Fire in Three Images, from Heraclitus to the Anthropocene


  • Carlos Segovia Saint Louis University


Anthropocene, Being, Cosmos, Hybris, Innigkeit, Physis


This paper aims at reassessing three of fire’s most thought-provoking metaphors throughout the history of Western thought, from Heraclitus to the present. It shows that fire functions as conceptual figure for the analysis of human situatedness. Each image is extracted from a series of texts, referred to a conceptual issue, and explored in relation to a contemporary discussion. The first is Kosmos; the issue, physis and time; the texts, Heraclitus’s and Parmenides’s fragments; the discussion turns around Bachelard’s, Deleuze’s, and Severino’s interpretations of the present. The second is Hybris; the issue is the replacement of physis by technology; the texts, Aeschylus’s Prometheus and Heraclitus’s fragments; the discussion turns around modern misrepresentations of Prometheus. The third is Innigkeit; the issue is that of the re-tuning in to physis; the texts are Empedocles’s and Heraclitus fragments, Hölderlin’s Empedocles and Essays, and Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art; the discussion turns around Hegel’s sources and legacy, with a reference to works of Malabou and Negarestani reread in light of Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition. The paper concludes with a brief reflection on hybris and the Anthropocene.


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How to Cite

Segovia, C. (2021). Fire in Three Images, from Heraclitus to the Anthropocene. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 17(3), 501–521. Retrieved from