Inhuman Educations

Jean-François Lyotard, Pedagogy, Thought


In the first monograph on Lyotard and education, the author approaches Lyotard’s thought as pedagogical in itself. The result is a novel, soft, and accessible study of Lyotard organized around two inhuman educations: that of “the system” and that of “the human.” The former enforces an interminable process of development, dialogue and exchange, while the latter finds its force in the mute, secret, opaque, and inarticulable.

Threading together a range of Lyotard’s work through four pedagogical processes—reading, writing, voicing, and listening—the author insists on the distinct educational logics that can uphold or interrupt different ways of being-together in the world, touching on a range of topics from literacy and aesthetics to time and political-economy. While Inhuman Educations can serve as an introduction to Lyotard’s philosophy, it also constitutes a singular, provocative, and fresh take on his thought.

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Derek R. Ford, Ph.D., is assistant professor of education studies at DePauw University, whose latest books are Politics and Pedagogy in the “Post-Truth” Era (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019) and Education and the Production of Space (Routledge, 2017).

"Ford’s manuscript is a novel contribution to the field of educational thought and critical practice in that it moves the import of Lyotard’s work past The Postmodern Condition," while it also "offers an indispensable introduction to readers unfamiliar with Lyotard." Moreover, "Inhuman Educations" offers much to readers more familiar with Lyotard’s work and especially readers interested in resisting the inhuman system of education."
- Katie Crabtree, Institute of Childhood Education, Leeds Trinity University, University of Leeds in Postdigital Science and Education (2021)

Advance Praise

Inhuman Educations takes us through the difficulties, challenges, and excitement of thinking Lyotard in relation to pedagogy and the inhuman. As our guide, Derek R. Ford carefully leads the reader through different practices—reading, writing, voicing, and listening—in order to challenge today’s dominant pedagogical assumptions. In addition, this well composed volume does an important job in drawing educational philosophy and theory away from its focus on The Postmodern Condition to new questions prompted by infancy and the inhuman.”
Kiff Bamford, Reader in Contemporary Art, Leeds Beckett University

“Deftly but subtly connecting Lyotard’s postmodern peregrinations with his investments in revolutionary politics, Derek R. Ford’s erudite study brings to the fore pedagogical practices that—in errant and disparate ways—contest the grip that the extant system has on how we think, speak and act.”
Gabriel Rockhill, Professor of Philosophy, Villanova University

“In this mind-expanding book, Derek R. Ford engages with Lyotard to question and challenge the developmental model of modernity, the inhuman system bound up with progress, capitalism, and white supremacy. Education is the key theme here, but the wide-ranging discussions will also resonate for those interested in art, literature, music and politics, and beyond that, for anyone seeking to nurture their secret inner lives instead of continuing to build the system.”
Noni Brynjolson, Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Indianapolis
Teachers, students, and researchers interested in educational studies and continental philosophy, including cultural foundations of education, childhood studies, philosophy of education, cultural politics, sound studies, art and education, critical education, postmodernism, French thought, poststructuralism, aesthetic theory, art, radical politics, and epistemology.
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