How Did Hegel Interpret Heraclitus?

Back in early 2020, the first covid lockdown in Greece found me reading the fragments of the presocratic Greek philosophers in combination with essays on the philosophy of art and aesthetics. Very quickly my readings on Heraclitus overshadowed everything else. After reading multiple interpretations of his fragments, I began looking for his reception among modern thinkers. It was during this period that I wrote this article on Hegel’s reading of Heraclitus that is now featured in the current issue of Philosophy Now. The article is basically a presentation of the notes I kept while reading and I am really happy that I am able to share them through a magazine that I have always enjoyed reading myself!

3 thoughts on “How Did Hegel Interpret Heraclitus?

  1. Antoni, Oh, excellent piece, mind-stretching. You wrote: “Heraclitus advocates using changing empirical observations to come to an unchanging knowledge of reality” which made me think of the river analogy of the water always changing, refreshing, yet it is still by definition water.
    Also running through in the back of my mind was the duality of light and shadow, and positive and negative spaces—they are conceptual tools for the artist to recreate reality. They are also great examples of being and non-being. Heraclitus then is the earliest, or one of, abstract thinkers?
    Again, excellent piece, well written, well argued, and good scholarship.

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    1. Thanks Michael! I do believe that Heraclitus should be considered the starting point of philosophical abstraction. At least, Thales seemed to be more interested in understanding natural phenomena rather than abstract ideas like the soul. Also, yes, as you noted, all these dualities and their dialectical relations are just perfect for art theory. I wish we could learn what Heraclitus thought of visual art. Even though they are not aesthetic per se, there are some fragments where he talks about harmony and music (https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/rhiz-2015-0002/pdf).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Im delighted you discuss him. I find it wondrous that anyone could begin to think that way. As an 18-year-old i took a class on pre-Socratic thought. Not sure how much I retained, but the curiosity was there. And how important it is to put the pieces of history together, it tells us so much of our human evolution. Glad you are doing what you do.

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