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Some poets are for Heidegger better guides on the quest for truth than professional philosophers. The two decisive languages, Heidegger thinks, are Greek and German; Greek because our philosophical heritage derives its terms from it often in distorted form , and German, because its words can often be traced to an origin undistorted by philosophical reflection or by Latin interpretations of the Greek.

If there is such a standpoint, should it not be ignored or at least modified because it overlooks or trivializes the most significant matters of choice, in this case the ability to detect and deal with grave injustice?

While Heidegger purports to attend to concrete, ordinary experience, he does not consider seriously justice and injustice as fundamental aspects of this experience. First , the essence of technology is not something we make; it is a mode of being, or of revealing. This means that technological things have their own novel kind of presence, endurance, and connections among parts and wholes. They have their own way of presenting themselves and the world in which they operate. The essence of technology is, for Heidegger, not the best or most characteristic instance of technology, nor is it a nebulous generality, a form or idea.

The second point is that technology even holds sway over beings that we do not normally think of as technological, such as gods and history. Third , the essence of technology as Heidegger discusses it is primarily a matter of modern and industrial technology. He is less concerned with the ancient and old tools and techniques that antedate modernity; the essence of technology is revealed in factories and industrial processes, not in hammers and plows.

And fourth , for Heidegger, technology is not simply the practical application of natural science. Instead, modern natural science can understand nature in the characteristically scientific manner only because nature has already, in advance, come to light as a set of calculable, orderable forces — that is to say, technologically.

For example, we challenge land to yield coal, treating the land as nothing but a coal reserve. The passive voice in this account indicates that these acts occur not primarily by our own doing; we belong to the activity. Technological conscriptions of things occur in a sense prior to our actual technical use of them, because things must be and be seen as already available resources in order for them to be used in this fashion. Technology also replaces the familiar connection of parts to wholes; everything is just an exchangeable piece.

We can replace one piece of standing reserve with another. I myself am entirely in each gesture of the hand, every single time. Human beings too are now exchangeable pieces.

Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies

But the essence of technology does not just affect things and people. Everything encountered technologically is exploited for some technical use. For instance, the people who cross the Rhine by walking over a simple bridge might also seem to be using the bridge to challenge the river, making it a piece in an endless chain of use.


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But Heidegger argues that the bridge in fact allows the river to be itself, to stand within its own flow and form. By contrast, a hydroelectric plant and its dams and structures transform the river into just one more element in an energy-producing sequence. Modern machines are therefore not merely more developed, or self-propelled, versions of old tools such as water or spinning wheels. Even if the essence of technology does not originate in the rise of mechanization, can we at least show how it follows from the way we apprehend nature?

It was technological thinking that first understood nature in such a way that nature could be challenged to unlock its forces and energy. The challenge preceded the unlocking; the essence of technology is thus prior to natural science. Given this view of technology, it follows that any scientific account obscures the essential being of many things, including their nearness.

An example from the second lecture illustrates what Heidegger means.

Scientifically speaking, the distance between a house and the tree in front of it can be measured neutrally: it is thirty feet. But in our everyday lives, that distance is not as neutral, not as abstract.

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By becoming indifferent to things as they concern us, by representing both the distance and the object as simple but useful mathematical entities or philosophical ideas, we lose our truest experience of nearness and distance. I t is becoming clear by now that in order to understand the essence of technology we must also understand things non-technologically; we must enter the realm where things can show themselves to us truthfully in a manner not limited to the technological.

But technology is such a domineering force that it all but eliminates our ability to experience this realm. The possibility of understanding the interrelated, meaningful, practical involvements with our surroundings that Heidegger describes is almost obliterated. The third Bremen lecture lays out just how severe the problem is.

Technology reigns, and we therefore forget being altogether and our own essential freedom — we no longer even realize the world we have lost. Ways of experiencing distance and time other than through the ever more precise neutral measuring with rulers and clocks become lost to us; they no longer seem to be types of knowing at all but are at most vague poetic representations.

Yet, Heidegger argues, recognizing this danger allows us to glimpse and then respond to what is forgotten. Proper thinking and speaking, on the other hand, allow us to be ourselves and to reveal being. Language is the inceptual dimension within which the human essence is first capable of corresponding to being. Truth, then, becomes not only conformity but the verification of this conformity, sc. Since only that. Hence the Being of beings becomes that by which they are subjects subject-ivity or objects object-ivity : their only presence is found not in their own non-concealment but in the order or re presentation by a subject.

With Descartes, then, the transcendence which characterizes all metaphysics becomes not a passage unto something specifically non-human, whether an Idea or God, but rather unto a subjectum which in one way or another is related to human nature itself. However this may be, the subject for Descartes is an individual human ego, but Leibniz extends the notion so that it could apply to every being. For every monad is endowed with the power of present-ation, se. Kant's transcendental philosophy was an attempt to discern the conditions necessary to render possible the present-ing of objects to the subject.

But the culmination of subject-ism hence of all metaphysics arrives with Hegel, for it was he who explored the absolute character of the certitude in which Descartes' quest for the fundamentum inconcussum terminated, sc. Culminated in Hegel, subject-ist metaphysics reached its ultimate consummation in Nietzschean nihilism. On the one hand, Nietzsche saw that the old supra-sensible meta-physical values had lost their meaning for nineteenth century Europe, and, to the extent that he took God to be the symbol of these values, God was certainly dead.

On the other hand, his own effort at revaluation remained itself a metaphysics, for the Will-unto-Power, posing as it did new values truth and art , was eminently a subject-ism. The only change was in the way in which the presentative subject was conceived : now it was Universal Will. Nietzsche failed, then, to overcome metaphysical nihilism.

In fact, he added to its momentum, for to the extent that his super-man responds to the exigencies of Being con-.

Heidegger and the Essence of Man

This he achieves principally through scientific progress. The mesure of Nietzsche's failure was his inability to escape the subject-object polarity. This could be done only by a type of thinking that could transcend subject-ism, meditate the essence of metaphysics by going beyond it to think that which metaphysics invariably forgets : the sense of Being itself.

What is said here of metaphysics may be said for the science of logic as well, for this formulates the rules of present-ative thought. Like metaphysics, logic, too, is chained to the conception of truth- as-conformity. In similar fashion, Heidegger interprets the traditional conception of humanism. Interpreting the essence of man as a rational animal, all traditional humanisms, he claims, either spring from metaphysics or found one. Foundational thought, then, is of such a nature that it can overcome metaphysics, technicity, logic, humanism.

It must be a process that is non-subjective better pre-subjective , therefore non-present- ative pre-presentative.

By the same token, it is non-logical pre- logical , and as long as we remain in the perspectives of logic and metaphysics, we will be able to think of Being only as Non-being Nichts. As opposed to the tendency to dominate the objects of thought, the attitude of foundational thinking will be simply to let beings be, hence render them free unto themselves.

More positively, foundational thinking tries to meditate Being as the process of truth, sc. What is the fundamental structure of this thought?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It is brought-to-pass by the nature of man conceived as ek-sistence, sc. Since the There comes-to-pass in a being, sc.

Heidegger end the Problem of Thought To understand thought, then, we must first see more precisely the relationship between Being and its There. It is, in fact, a correlation. For on the one hand, Being maintains a primacy over its There, throwing it out and dominating it at all times, revealing and concealing itself through its There, according to the necessity proper to itself.

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Yet on the other hand, it needs its There in order to be itself, sc. To think Being will be to think the truth of Being in which There-being is ek-sistent. Being discloses itself to and in its There, but since it is Being that holds the primacy, Being is conceived as sending itself unto its There. In any case, one thing is certain : intrinsic to the mittence of Being is a certain negativity, by reason of which Being withdraws even as it bestows itself, conceals itself even in revealment.

The reason is that even though Being reveals itself in revealing beings, it can never be seized for itself and by itself since it is not a being , therefore it conceals itself in the very beings to which it gives rise.