24 AUGUST | 10:15–11:45

The Way of the Unexpected – The Poetics of Being and Non-Being in Early Greek Philosophy

Hans Ruin

From its inception, the foremost challenge for human philosophical thinking is how to handle change. How can we conceptualize the fact that nothing seems to remain stable and that the world is constantly displaying new features? These questions can lead, on the hand, to the positing of an absolutely stable origin, beyond the reach of all transformations. This is the position of the Presocratic philosopher and poet Parmenides, who also rejects non-being. The other alternative is to affirm transformation as the element of thinking and language itself. Such a philosophy is developed by Heraclitus, around 500 BC. In my talk, I will describe how this leads him to create a new form of writing and representation of thought that can take upon itself the work of nothingness, in a poetics of being and non-being. 

Photo of Hans Ruin
Photo: Cato Lein

Hans Ruin is professor of philosophy at Södertörn University in Stockholm. He is an expert on the philosophy of Heidegger and Nietzsche and has co-edited the collected works of Nietzsche that was recently completed in ten volumes in Swedish (Symposium Förlag). He has also translated and commented on the fragments by Heraclitus in a book that was recently re-issued in a new and revised edition (Faethon Förlag). Among his recent books is also Being with the dead. Burial, ancestral politics, and the roots of historical consciousness (Stanford UP). 

This AGORA talk is open for all free of charge and does not require advance registration.