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The Essence of Technology Thinking about essence and technology With an introduction to the work of Martin Heidegger.

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3 The Essence of Technology Thinking about essence and technology With an introduction to the work of Martin Heidegger


5 The question concerning technology “It is a question raised on all sides and always with a sense of urgency. On it hinges nothing less than the survival of the species man and the planet earth”

6 “The essence of technology is nothing technological" Heidegger in The Question Concerning Technology, 1954

7 Today 1.Where in the Western tradition? 2.Essence 3.Technology 4.Consequences of this thought –Technology –Education

8 The Western Tradition of Philosophy Greek  Christian  Bifurcation Greeks: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle Christian: Augustine to Aquinas Bifurcation –Analytic (British) –Continental

9 Inwood begins his book “He was (with the possible exception of Wittgenstein) the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. He was (with the possible exception of Hegel) the greatest charlatan ever to claim the title of 'philosopher', a master of hollow verbiage masquerading as profundity. He was an irredeemable German redneck, and, for a time, a gullible and self-important Nazi. He was a pungent, if inevitably covert, critic of Nazism, a discerning analyst of the ills of our age and our best hope of a cure for them.”

10 Sein und Zeit



13 Early life - 1889 South – West Germany Poor Catholic beginnings Jesuit novice to Freiburg University 1915 conscripted to the postal and meteorological services 1919 breach with the “system of Catholicism”




17 Establishment 1918 assistant to Husserl Teacher – Aristotle, St Paul, St Augustine, phenomenology Marberg – Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Leibniz. 1927 Being and Time Weimar Republic 1918 – 1933 National Socialist German Workers party


19 Dwelling





24 Space, dwelling, Newton A way of looking at things. Dwelling as an example. The Adelaide teacher. Very similar to the argument about technology.

25 Freiburg University Rectorial address 1934 resignation Positives – no anti-Semitism, Being the goal of Nazi Party, Gestapo surveillance, Statement: empire building stems not from “dictators” but from “the metaphysical essence of modernity” Negatives – Catholics, retraction




29 Phone joke

30 Essence Aristotle raised the question of ‘essence’ as a part of his discussion of ‘substance’ Second book on Logic One defines things, not words. The definition of tiger does not tell us the meaning of the word ‘tiger’; it tells us what it is to be a tiger, what a tiger is said to be in respect of itself. Thus, the definition of tiger states the essence — the “what it is to be” of a tiger, what is predicated of the tiger per se.

31 “Technology is not equivalent to the essence of technology. When we are seeking the essence of ‘tree’, we have to become aware that what pervades every tree, as tree, is not itself a tree that can be encountered among all the other trees”.

32 Essence: the whatness of a thing – the whatness of technology What is the essence of technology? –A means to an end AND –A human activity (This is the instrumental, anthropological definition)

33 But, what is the instrumental itself? Within what do means and ends belong?

34 The path to answer 1.Aristotle – cause – 4 notions A.Causa materialis – the material B.Causa formalis – the shape C.Causa finalis – the end D.Causa efficiens – the push 2.But, we act as if they “fell from heaven” - What grounds them?

35 In his words The 4 ways belong together Example: the sacrificial silver chalice, lying before us, lying ready We are asking about the primal meaning of this The presenceing of something as coming fourth into the present The bring forth by the craftsman is the same as the bringing forth in a bud Brings out of concealment into un-concealment

36 To bring out of concealment A way of revealing the totality of beings Prior to, and by no means a consequence of, the Scientific Revolution The essence of technology is …

37 An important contrast What is different between ancient and modern technology? Ancient technology - lets things emerge / be Modern technology - forces things to be - it is “violent”

38 Examples The old bridge / the hydroelectric dam The peasant farmer / mechanised food industry The modern airline industry So what is wrong with progress?

39 What produces the modern view? And, what are its consequences? We come to see everything as “resource”, “standing reserve”, being there for our use … Metaphysics

40 Examples Adolescents Marriage partners Save and retire Curriculum Credentialing Polytechnics Distance learning on the internet Management theory


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