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The Question Concerning Technology With thanks to Professor B. Babich, Fordham University Martin Heidegger.

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Presentation on theme: "The Question Concerning Technology With thanks to Professor B. Babich, Fordham University Martin Heidegger."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Question Concerning Technology With thanks to Professor B. Babich, Fordham University Martin Heidegger

2 Questioning For the sake of preparing a free relationship A free relationship is one that opens our existence, our Da-Sein to the essence of technology


4 Technology is not the same as, not equivalent to the essence of technology the essence of technology is by no means anything technological But, and here Heidegger invokes Rousseau, indirectly to be sure: Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology This constraint is true whether we passionately affirm or deny it ((311))

5 But we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral According to traditional philosophy, we can ask the question of essence by asking what something is. Technology is a means to an end – Instrumental definition a human activity -- Anthropological definition Both definitions are correct but the correct is not the same as the true… (312)

6 Controlling Technology We seek to master technology I.e., as Heidegger says, we seek to get technology spiritually in hand. … The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control. This is problematic in the event (and Heidegger will defend this point) that technology might be something other than a mere means We need a free relation to technology And we can seek the true by way of the correct.

7 The Four Causes (313-4) causa materialis --- hyle -- the material causa formalis --- eidos – the form or shape Causa finalis-- telos – that for which it is for causa efficiens* not quite translatable, this would be the logos, but Heidegger seeks to explore this in terms of the working circumspection of the worker

8 causa efficiens ( ) For us today this is the exclusive meaning of causality Aristotles exploration of the fourfold nature of causality is thus alien to us Heidegger explores this in terms of language (our English word is indebted to the latin) German: Ursache, Latin, causa, Greek aition

9 The Craftsman – Silversmith here (315) The German überlegen (which Heidegger interprets to mean something like bring about by reflecting)--- renders the Greek λογος for Heidegger and corresponds to in Latin letters now, apo- phainesthai, to bring forth into appearance This can best be illustrated with reference to Heideggers discussion of the tool in his first and most important work, Being and Time

10 Tools, of a kind

11 Hammering Holding a hammer properly enables one to use the hammer to accomplish what one has to do with the hammer. But this is other than bending the hammer to one's own will. The hammer will do best what one will if one conforms one's use to the intrinsic design of the hammer, heft, shape, etc. (conformity with respect to the appropriate grip, the angle and arc of the swinging stroke, even the kind of nail employed, surely the position of the same). In the case of hammering, there is always a great bit of freedom -- one can use the side of the hammer's head or the shaft for hammering; if it is a claw hammer and one is a performance artist, say, one can use the sharp edge of the claw. But even here the condition of the range of use is 'decided' or constrained by the tool and the task even in the last unlikely because (not albeit) unwieldy case. This is what Heidegger in Being and Time referred to as equipmental totality (SZ 68). With more sophisticated machines, anything mechanically driven for example, especially all things electronic, the range of play is increasingly reduced. B. Babich in British Journal of Phenomenology. 30/1 (January 1999): 106


13 The Four Causes: Didactic Illustration

14 Verschuldetsein That to which something else is indebted (316) This is Heideggers key reflection on techne as bringing forth in and through an other, en alloi, and as distinguished from physis, understood as bursting into bloom, unfolding from itself (37) 1

15 Revealing Every bringing forth is grounded in revealing Thus Heidegger here makes clear (p. 317) that technology is no mere means but a mode or revealing, that is, of bringing forth into unconcealment – aletheia (318-9) In this sense, techne is something poietic And as Heidegger emphasizes techne is also a kind of knowing or episteme

16 The essence of modern technology Not a bringing forth (in the sense of poiesis) Too impatient/violent/urgent we might note here that this violence applies as much to the information-age as to the machine-age Instead it is what Heidegger calls a challenging forth into revealing (320)

17 Setting Upon The setting upon characteristic of modern technology challenges forth the energy of nature as an expediting in two ways Unlocks and exposes (Physics sets nature up (321)) And the economic: maximum yield, minimum expense demands stockpiling The result Heidegger calls Bestand (332): standing reserve which is far more than simply reserves that one happens to have on hand…[Vorrat]

18 Examples of such setting upon Hydroelectric plant (and environs)

19 Strip mining

20 Two windmill typs Even the wind can be set upon…. Great birds of prey, 1000s and 1000s of them, who cannot see the churning vanes accumulate around the circumference of such wind-farms … (USA Today 25/1/2004)

21 Süleymans Bridge at Mostar, first built in 1566

22 Mostar Bridge, 1993

23 Rebuilt as a tourist attraction


25 Heideggers reference point

26 Gestell - Enframing Gathered by the challenging that sets upon the human being in order to reveal the real as standing reserve in accord with appearances Heidegger coins the term Ge-Stell (324) on the model (a rather elusive one on the first reading) of Gebirge (the chaining of mountain ranges) and Gemut (what disposes one in ones disposition) The Ge-stell is a putting into a framework or configuration as standing reserve of everything that is summoned forth (325)

27 Setting Upon The challenging claim which gathers man thither to order the self-revealing (this would be nature) in the mode or guise of so much standing reserve This should not be equated with the array of technological apparatus in our world (329: It is the way in which the acutal reveals itself as standing reserve.) This becomes the way on which we are embarked: our destiny (329)

28 Ackerbau Zitat – Example from Agriculture Ein Landstrich wird gestellt… An area is en- framed

29 The context for the Ackerbau quote: Ein Landstrich wird gestellt, auf Kohle nämlich und Erze, die in ihm anstehen. Das Anstehen von Gestein ist vermutlich schon im Gesichtskreis eines solchen Stellens vorgestellt und auch nur aus ihm vorstellbar. Das anstehende und als solches schon auf ein Sichstellen abgeschätzte Gestein wird herausgefordert und demzufolge herausgefördert.

30 Das Anstehen von Gestein ist vermutlich schon im Gesichtskreis eines solchen Stellens vorgestellt und auch nur aus ihm vorstellbar.

31 Das anstehende und als solches schon auf ein Sichstellen abgeschätzte Gestein wird herausgefordert und demzufolge herausgefördert.

32 Durch ein solches Bestellen wird das Land zu einem Kohlenrevier, der Boden zu einer Erlagererstätte – Note Heideggers later marginal comment: Der Boden, Land – heimatlose des Bestandes!

33 Note the comparison between atomic energy and agricultural industry: Bestellen ist schon andere Art als jenes wodurch vormals der Bauer seinen Acker bestellte. Das bäuerliche Tun fordert den Ackerboden nicht heraus; es giebt vielmehr die Saat den Wachstumskräften anheim; es hütet sie in ihr Gedeihen. Inzwischen ist jedoch auch die Feldbestellung in das gleiche Be-stellen ubergegangen, das die Luft und auf Stickstoff, den Boden auf Kohle und Erze stellt, das Erz auf Uran, das Uran auf Atomenergie, diese auf bestellbare Zerstörung Cultivating is now a different kind of thing than what the farmer used to do with his field. The famers activity did not challenge his field; he entrusted his seeds much more to the power of growing. They were protected in their development for good or worse. In the meantime, the fields have come to be cultivated in the same manner as is nitrogen is destructively extracted from air, as coal and ore are from the earth, as uranium from ore, as atomic energy from uranium.


35 Im Wesen das selbe wie … Ackerbau ist jetzt motorisierte Ernährungsindustrie, im Wesen das Selbe wie die Fabrikation von Leichen in Gaskammern und Vernichtungslagern, das Selbe wie die Blockade und Aushungerung von Ländern, das selbe wie die Fabrikation von Wasserstoffbomben. Agriculture is now a motorized feeding-industry, essentially the same as the fabrication of corpses in gas chambers and the death camps, the same as the blockade and starvation of countries, the same as the making of hydrogen bombs.

36 Heideggers claim is that such a manufacture of corpses is in essence the sameas strip mining, factory farming, etc.

37 But where danger is, grows The saving power also. Friedrich Hölderlin (333) One must raise a further question, beyond questioning after technology to raise the question of what Heidegger, who thinks the danger [Gefahr] together with the notion of Ge-Stell, might mean by speaking of Hölderlins saving power [das Rettende].

38 See The Origin of the Work of Art– here he continues: Because the essence of technology is nothing technological, essential reflection upon technology and decisive confrontation with it must happen in a realm that is, one the one hand, akin to the essence of technology and, on the other, fundamentally different from it. Such a realm is art. But only if reflection upon art, for its part, does not shut its eyes to the constellation of truth, concerning which we are questioning… For questioning is the piety of thought. ( )

39 The essence of technology is nothing technological Heidegger

40 Heideggers grave, St. Martins Church Graveyard, Messkirch

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