Heidegger, M.: "The Question Concerning Technology"

Heidegger, M. (2003). The Question Concerning Technology. In R. Scharff & V. Dusek (Eds.), Philosophy of technology (pp. 252-264). Malden  MA: Blackwell Publishing.


Wikipedia entry

Stresses will be questioning technology (252). 

Technology â‰  essence of tech. (Platonic?)

Tech often defined as "technology is a means to an end" and "techology is a human activity" (252). Ends and process. A "contrivance" (252). < refers to these definitions as "the instrumental and anthropological definition of technology" (252).

Human urge to 'master' technology (253). But what if "no mere means"? (253). Argues these definitions do not get at technology's essence.

"Whatever has an effect as its consequence is called a cause. But not only that by means of which something is effected is a cause. The end that determines the kind of means to be used may also be considered a cause. Wherever ends are pursued and means are employed, wherever instrumentality reigns, there reigns causality" (253)

Lists philosophy's four causes:

  • causa materialis: the "stuff" from which stuff is made
  • causa formalis: the form in which it is made
  • causa finalis: the end (if making a chalice, the sacrificial chalice which dictates form and matter)
  • causa officiens: which brings about the actual finished effect (e.g., silversmiths) (253)

Questions even the nature and the limits of these causes. Argues that the ways, "all belonging at once to each other, of being responsible for something else" (253). Telos--mistranslated as "aim" or "purpose." "The telos is responsible for what as matter and as aspect are together co-responsible for the sacrificial vessal" (254). Begins with concept of "ways of owing" (254)-- sense of co-responsibility or indebtedness. 

Secondary comes to concept of "occasion"-- inducing forward. Uses terms poiÄ“sis (like an intellectual bringing forth) and physis (physical bringing forth). Comes to be seen as revealing (alÄ“theia) which is translated to veritas, or "truth"-- interpreted as "correctness of representation" (255). 

Revealing (alÄ“theia) has everything to do with technology. Tech is not a mere means, but a realm of revealing, or truth. Reminds that technÄ“, the root for technology, is both for activities/skills of craftsman and arts of mind/fine arts. technÄ“ linked to epistÄ“mÄ“-- terms of knowing. "They mean to be entirely at home in something, to understand and be expert in it" (255). Again, technÄ“ not all in making/manipulation, not in means, but in the revelation (not in manufacturing). 

Technology is where revealing/unconcealment happens. Technology is where truth (alÄ“theia) happens.

Begins to discuss the "modern" perception of technology, role of modern physics. Argues that it is a revealing but not a bringing forth in sense of poiÄ“sis; it is a challenging of nature (the wind, the land, etc.). Not talking traditional agriculture or windmills (a "natural") act, but in mining, science of agriculture, etc. A "setting-upon" of nature, "toward driving on to the maximum yield at the minimum expense" (256). Unconcealment of such 'resources' becomes a standing-reserve; no longer an object. (is this a type of potentiality?). 

Takes interesting tack, uses example of modern forester is ordered by wood industry, "made subordinate to the orderability of cellulose, which is for its part is challenged forth by the need for paper, which is then delivered to newspapers and magazines..." (then continues with public opinion as to what is printed) (257). It is beyond "mere handiwork of man" (257). 

"Modern technology, as a revealing that orders, is thus no mere human doing" (257).

Introduces term Ge-stell, meaning enframing. Often refers to an apparatus (e.g., book rack) or skeleton. It is the idea of it/ the essence, but not the thing. Enframing is "the way of revealing that holds sway in the essence of modern technology and that is itself nothing technological" (258). 

Argues that man is "challenged forth into revealing" (258). 

Charges that modern physics is based on a manipulation of nature to measure nature, not a questioning of nature. 

Argues modern tech keeps itself concealed. 

"If odern physics must resign itself ever increasingly to the fact that its realm of representation remains inscrutable and incapable of being visualized, this recognition is not dictated by any committee of researchers. It is challenged forth by the rule of enframing, which demands that nature be orderable as standing-reserve" (259). 

Seems that causality shrinks into reporting.

"Because the essence of modern technology lies in enframing, modern technology must employ exact physical science. Through its so doing the deceptive appearance arises that modern technology is applied physical science" (259).

Returns to original question: what is our relationship to essence of technology?

Where does the revealing happen? Not beyond human doing, not in man, not through man. 

"Enframing, as a challenging-forth into ordering, sends into a way of revealing. Enframing is an ordaining of destining, as is every way of revealing. Bringing-forth, poiÄ“sis, is also a destining in this sense" (260).

Gets into a statement that kind of feels like a predistination (destining of technology) in play with freedom/free will (through reflection and consciousness). "Destining is never a fate that compels" (260).

Parlance of the age that technology is "fate."

"But when we consider the essence of technology we experience enframing as a destining of revealing. In this way we are already sojourning within the free space of destining, a destining that in no way confines us to a stultified compulsion to push on blindly with technology or, what comes to the same, to rebel helplessly against it and curse it as the work of the devil. Quite to the contrary, when we once open ourselves expressly to the essence of technology, we find ourselves unexpectedly taken into a freeing claim: (260).

Man is 'endangered by destining': doesn't get that enframing is a claim. "thus the challenging-enframing not only conceals a former way of revealing (bringing-forth) but also conceals revealing itself and with it that wherein unconcealment, i.e., truth, propriates" (261). 

Technology isn't dangerous, but mysterious. It's the essence, as a "destining of revealing," that's dangerous (261). (guessing that the unquestioning is what makes it dangerous)

But it can be saving. 

Enframing is the essence, but not as genus/ essentia (whatness). "Only what is granted endures. What endures primarily out of the earliest beginning is what grants" (262). 

If we perceive tech as an instrument, we focus on mastering, which blinds us to essence of technolgy. "When, however, we ask how the instrumental unfolds essentially as a kind of causality, the we experience this essential unfolding as the destining of revealing. . . . When we consider, finally, that the essential unfolding of the essence of technology propriates in the granting that needs and uses man so that he may share in revealing then the following becomes clear" (263): essence of technology is ambiguous-- ordering blocks revealing, endangering relation to truth; however, "enframing propriates for its part in the granting that lets man endure--as yet inexperienced, but perhaps more experienced in the future--that he may be the one who is needed and used for the safekeeping of the essence of truth" (263) (the rising of the saving power). 

"The essential unfolding of technology threatens revealing, threatens it with the possibility that all revealing will be consumed in ordering and that everything will present itself only in the unconcealment of standing-reserve" (263).

Basically, it seems that the answer is in art (?). Must reflect and confront in a place akin to yet fundamentally different from technology. 

"For questioning is the piety of thought" (264).