Sea and fog.

Department of Asian Studies

Does Nothingness exist? A Cross-Continental Dialogue

Does Nothingness exist?

A Cross-Continental Dialogue
International conference hosted by the Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, the International Society of Chinese Philosophy (ISCP), and the European Association of Chinese Philosophy (EACP) on May 17-19, 2024

Does Nothingness exist?

A Cross-Continental Dialogue

Conference hosted by the Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, on May 17-19, 2024

Almost nothing exists when it comes to dialogues between scholars and philosophers, trained in Western and Asian philosophies respectively. But this significant nothing, which speaks for itself, could be transformed into a meaningful something, which becomes a beacon of existence in the distinctive milieu of Ljubljana. Right, in Ljubljana, a place that defies easy categorization as a city or a town, residing somewhere in between. Hence, it stands as an ideal setting to delve into the realms of the in-between, at the crossroads of Asian and European thought, where nothingness and existence converge and diverge.

Our dialogues, controversies, and discussions are framed by a paraphrase of Hans Küng's famous question, "Does God exist?". This rephrased inquiry spawns several sub-questions. If we ponder "Does Nothingness exist?" we are compelled to explore "If not, what is the reason?" and "If so, how and why?". Is nothing actually the contrary of being or is it, in fact, its sine qua non? What is the connection between nothingness and existence, and how do they correspond to the concepts of absence and presence? Can we presuppose that nothing is not a presence that we can directly encounter but an absence that we must acknowledge?

Given that these modes of thought have deep-seated origins in both Western and Asian philosophy, the concept of nothingness presents a valuable opportunity to foster dialogue between these traditions. Therefore, this symposium endeavors to combine voices from the East and West, nurturing an awareness of each other's existence, affirming that the Other holds a significance far beyond mere nothingness. Our discussions of the concept of nothingness will extend beyond the absence of inherent meaning in life; we will also explore its role as the fundamental ontology of our existence.

Furthermore, we will engage in a radical questioning of the concept of "ultimate truth" in relation to our fleeting existence, including a critical examination of the fundamental nature of change in our impermanent world. In doing so, we contemplate nothingness as a potential source of both the self and the world. As we grapple with the age-old question of how to traverse the path from nothingness to being, it becomes evident that we are inevitably drawn back to the question of existence itself. Additionally, we delve into the intricate relationship between nothingness, freedom, and imagination, while also probing the confines that inhibit this state of liberation. And in the midst of our philosophical musings, we might ask ourselves and each other a tantalizing question: can nothingness define itself through an "in-the-world existence," simultaneously shaping and negating the very world it inhabits?

In this symposium, we aim to explore the bottomless depths of nothingness. We want to uncover fresh intuitions within the fuzzy realms of the in-between, reshaping our perspectives on the enigma of existence itself. However, regardless of the outcome, our dialogues will transcend borders and challenge conventions, serving as a reminder that in the quest for understanding, nothing is as it seems.


Poster of the conference.

The conference program is here.


  • Hotel:
    Eurostars uHotel, Miklošičeva cesta 3 Ljubljana
    1000 Slovenia
  • Conference: 
    Main building of the University of Ljubljana, Kongresni trg 12, 1000 Ljubljana, Assembly Hall (Zbornična dvorana) 
    All events will take place in this main building. 
    Keynote speeches and plenary panels (Panel 1, 2, and 3): Assembly Hall (Zbornična dvorana) 
    Double panels: Panels 4, 6, and 8: Assembly Hall (Zbornična dvorana) Panels 5, 7, and 9: Hall of Rectors (Dvorana rektorjev)
  • Lunches:
    Lunch for all participants will be served daily at the Han Chinese Restaurant, located directly opposite the conference venue at Kongresni Trg 3, Ljubljana, just across the square.
  • Dinner on Saturday, May 18:
    Restaurant Špajza, Gornji trg 28, Ljubljana 

All venues are easily accessible on foot. 
The hotel is a mere eight-minute walk from the conference venue. 

Google maps - pot od hotela do Univerze

Participants have the option to gather at the hotel entrance at 15:10 on the first day to walk to the conference site, accompanied by student volunteers.

Daily group walks to the restaurants are also arranged.

On Sunday evening, we will walk together from Restaurant Han to the theater hall at Cankarjev dom, located at Prešernova cesta 10, Ljubljana. 

Google maps - pot od Univerze do Cankarjevega doma

This theater performance, starting at 8:00 PM, is thematically linked to the conference topics and is a highlight of our accompanying cultural program.

Zemljevid ljubljane, z lokacijami (hotel, restavracija, Cankarjev dom, Univerza v LJubljani, Filozofska fakulteta))

Link to google maps.

Assembly hall

 Assembly hall

Hall of the Rectors

 Hall of the Rectors



Main Building of the University of Ljubljana

Main Building of the University of Ljubljana

Jana S. Rošker (chief academic organizer)
Téa Sernelj
Marko Ogrizek
Severin Lorenčič
Jasna Bavec

The trip to Piran will include the following locations:

Postojna cave
The frescoes in the Holy Trinity Church in Hrastovlje

A Tale of Everything in Nothing –

Once again, the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Ljubljana proudly presents a dynamic cultural program to enhance this year's academic conference, titled “Does Nothingness Exist? An Inter-Continental Dialogue”. This event goes beyond the conventional academic framework, embracing a fusion of theory and art that has become a cherished tradition within our department.

This year’s spectacle, titled “Frog in the well -A Tale of Everything in Nothing” is thematically linked to the conference topics and is a highlight of our accompanying cultural program.

The performance blends theater, music, and dance, all enriched by the timeless wisdom of Zhuangzi, a classical Chinese Daoist philosopher. We revisit his tale of the frog limited to the view from its well—until a sea turtle offers a glimpse of a broader horizon. Inspired, the frog ventures worldwide, tackling contemporary wonders and problems, pleasures and sufferings, only to return home with a new perspective: What once was a mere well appears as a gateway to an infinite abyss of nothingness.

This metaphor invites us to break free from our narrow viewpoints and embrace broader perspectives—though accepting this invitation is entirely optional, and formal attire is not required.

Join us as we plunge into deep self-awareness and ascend into the vast, intricate webs of our globalized existence. Together, we'll explore the paradox of an interconnected universe, navigating the tumult of human life as we confront the void, uncovering the subtle, often somber beauties of nothingness.

Duša Počkaj theater hall ( in the cultural and congress center Cankarjev dom, (, Prešernova cesta 10 in Ljubljana. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024, at 8:00 PM

Director and choreographer: Ryuzo Fukuhara
Script and production: Jana S. Rošker
Frog: Marko Ogrizek
Turtle: Téa Sernelj
Mr. Greedmore and Guerilla contact: Luka Culiberg
Dictator: Ryuzo Fukuhara
Intellectual dissident and Reader: Tajda Kolenc
Child and Heart: Noami Zaviršek Bercht
Omnipresent voice (AI) and Mind: Vida Krevs
Soldier and Common subject: Anja Bradić
Dancers: Tajda Kolenc, Patumtip Nuanmalang, Marija Mitevska
Music: The Eternal Problems Trio 

  • Piano: Dejan Berden
  • Saxophone, clarinet: Marjan Farič
  • Vocal: Jana S. Rošker


One Meatball (Music by Hy Zaret, lyrics by Lou Singer)
Money Makes the World go Around (from Cabaret, Music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb)
Where Did All the Flowers Go (Music and original lyrics by Pete Seeger. The German lyrics were adapted by Max Colpet)
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free (Music by Billy Taylor, lyrics by Dick Dallas)
You’re Innocent When You Dream (Music and lyrics by Tom Waits)
Going Home (instrumental version); (Music by Antonín Dvořák, adapted from the Largo movement of his Symphony No. 9)
The Axis of the World (Music by Billy Strayhorn, lyrics by Jana S. Rošker)

Graphic design: Jure Preglau

Photos: Sunčan Stone

The Eurostars Hotel, located at Miklošičeva cesta 3, Ljubljana, where all participants will be accommodated, is within walking distance (3 minutes) of Ljubljana's train and bus stations.

Here are different transportation options from Ljubljana Airport to your hotel:

There are different possibilities (shuttle bus, taxi, public bus, etc) to get from the Ljubljana airport to the hotel. You can explore them here

1. Shuttle Bus:
   - 4 different providers (see the following link) who offer  flexible timings and can drop you off directly at your hotel. You can book tickets in advance online for better rates.

2. Taxi: 
   - Location: Taxi stand outside the arrivals area
   - Cost: Approximately €40 to the city center. Prices can vary depending on the taxi company and time of day.
   - Travel Time: About 20-30 minutes to the city center, depending on traffic.

3. Public Bus: (see the following link
   - Main provider: Ljubljana Public Transport - LPP
   - Route Number: 28
   - Schedule: Buses run hourly from the airport to the city center.
   - Cost: Around €4.10 per person.
   - Travel Time: Approximately 45 minutes to the central bus station.

4. Car Rental: (see the following link )
   - Providers: Several options including Avis, Europcar, and Hertz.
   - Location: Desks at the airport arrivals hall.
   - Details: This might be a cost-effective option if you plan to explore other areas of Slovenia.

5. Private Transfer: (see the following link)
   - Details: Can be booked online through various services like Viator or directly through hotel concierge services.
   - Advantages: Direct and private travel to your hotel with a fixed rate.

Please choose the option that best suits your schedule, budget, and comfort preferences.

Event registration will take place on Friday, May 17, between 15:30 and 16:00, at the Main Building of the University of Ljubljana, located at Kongresni trg 12, directly outside the Assembly Hall (Zbornična dvorana).

Those participants who wish to be accompanied to the conference venue should gather in front of the hotel at 15:10, where guides will be available to escort them. Participants preferring to travel independently can proceed to the venue at their convenience.

Selected papers from the conference will be featured in a special issue of the journal Asian Studies, published by the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Ljubljana's Faculty of Arts and edited by Jana S. Rošker. If you wish to have your conference paper considered for this issue, please submit it via the journal's website ( before November 15, 2024.

Philosophical Journey to the Sister Conference in Bratislava

On May 21st, approximately half of the invited scholars from the conference on Nothingness will travel by rented bus to Bratislava, Slovakia's capital, for a sister conference. This event will delve into Heidegger and East Asian philosophies, particularly focusing on Daoism. For more details, visit this link.

Given the thematic linkage, the two conferences are seen as complementary, enhancing our collective philosophical inquiry. In this regard, the Bratislava conference serves as an extension or the second part of the Ljubljana conference.

The Bratislava gathering will also feature discussions on networking and potential future collaborations between Slovenian and Slovak academic partners. Slovenian participants will include members and international partners from the Program Group Asian Languages and Cultures, and the research project New Theoretical Approaches to Comparative Transcultural Philosophy and the Method of Sublation, both hosted at the Department of Asian Studies, University of Ljubljana. They will engage with counterparts from the Institute of Philosophy at the Slovak Academy of Sciences. To facilitate this collaboration, the conference organizers have arranged bus transportation to Bratislava under the research program P6-0243 Asian Languages and Cultures.


Logotipi organizacij