Scientific “Fact-Fictions”

  • Elinor Shaffer
Part of the Artificial Intelligence and Society book series (HCS)


The death of many important ideas has been proclaimed in our century — the death of God, Man, the Self, the Imagination, and the Author. More recently, a new proclamation has been issued: Jean-François Lyotard has come to fell the “grand narratives.” According to Lyotard, a French philosopher and social thinker, postmodernism is to be defined as “incredulity towards metanarratives.”1 In Lyotard’s influential book, The Post-Modern Condition (1979), the death knell of grand narratives was still largely confined to the grand narratives of the Enlightenment already called in question by Horkheimer and Adorno in The Dialectic of Enlightenment (1942), narratives of reason, progress, and the liberty of humankind.


Science Fiction Arid Desert Cultural Critic Practical Philosophy Grand Narrative 
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    Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: a report on knowledge [1979], trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Manchester University Press, 1984), p. xxiv.Google Scholar
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    Jean-François Lyotard, L’Inhumain: Causeries sur le temps (Editions Galile, 1988), The Inhuman. Reflections on Time, translated by Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1991 ), p. 62.Google Scholar
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    Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time ( London and New York: Bantam Press, 1988 ), p. 83.Google Scholar
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    J.G. Ballard, ‘News from the Sun’, in Myths of the Near Future [1982] (London: Vintage, 1994 ), p. 107.Google Scholar
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    E. S. Shaffer, “The Sphinx and the Muses: the third culture,” Editor’s introduction to Comparative Criticism, vol. 13, “Literature and Science” (Cambridge University Press, 1991), xiv-xxvii.Google Scholar
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    Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor [1977] (London: Routledge, 1986 ), p. 267.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1995

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  • Elinor Shaffer

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