The theories of some of the so-called pre-Socratic philosophers were viewed by leading avant-garde artists and thinkers as fundamental constituents of (what Yatromanolakis has called) the configuration of their own ontological past—constituents that for them were associated with an archaic, “dark” epoch. Written by an international group of eminent scholars, Archaic Ontological Past is the first book to investigate the multifaceted impact of the pre-Socratics on avant-garde thought and art of the second quarter of the twentieth century. It probes the ways in which pre-Socratic, especially Herakleitan, thinking—as a rule mediated through, or viewed in association with, the works of later philosophers and writers such as Berkeley, de Sade, Hegel, Engels, and Nietzsche—contributed to Georges Bataille’s, André Breton’s, Salvador Dalí’s, and André Masson’s highly complex cultural politics and aesthetics. This book focuses on significant chapters of this as yet unwritten history of the pre-Socratic elements of the European avant-garde’s ontological past. Archaic Ontological Past: Pre-Socratic Philosophy and European Avant-Garde Art and Thought navigates a new territory in the history of the avant-garde, in the history of art, and in European intellectual history.