Evening lecture
15 May 2024 · 6.30 pm

Boris Groys (New York University): The Lord of the Rings: Evald Ilyenkov and the Circularity of Cosmic Time

Venue: Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Eberhard-Lämmert-Saal, Eingang Meierottostr. 8, 10719 Berlin
Contact: Zaal Andronikashvili, Matthias Schwartz (beide ZfL), Isabel Jacobs (University of London), Martin Küpper (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)

There were many philosophers during the 19th and 20th centuries who, under the influence of Hegel, suffered from post-historical depression. The circle of history was proclaimed to be closed, further historical activity and creativity impossible. From Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche to Kojève and Sartre, one reacted to this closure by accepting or protesting it. The most promising way to overcome the historical impasse seemed to be a repetition of the historical cycle. One relied on cosmic forces that were expected to produce an “eternal return of the same.”

Now, in this well-known philosophical context, Ilyenkov takes a unique, truly radical position. Not relying on cosmic forces, he proposes to put them under human control to artificially produce a chain of potentially infinite repetitions of the historical circle. Here, humans become initiators of the end of this world, and thus, the creators of the next world—substituting the old God. One can say that Ilyenkov’s Cosmology marks the pinnacle of the anthropocentrism of 20th-century Russian and Soviet philosophy.

The evening lecture is part of the conference Images of the Ideal. Evald Ilyenkov at 100.


Fig. above: Lucas Jennis: Ouroboros (detail), engraving published on an alchemical emblem-book entitled De Lapide Philisophico (1625), source: Wikimedia Commons.