MARTIN HEIDEGGER on science and technology
Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) was perhaps the most divisive philosopher of the twentieth century. Many hold him to be the most original and important thinker of his era. Others spurn him as an obscurantist and a charlatan, while still others see his reprehensible affiliation with the Nazis as a reason to ignore or reject his thinking altogether. But Heidegger’s undoubted influence on contemporary philosophy and his unique insight into the place of technology in modern life make him a thinker worthy of careful study.
Heidegger is notoriously difficult philosopher to read. Heidegger states that “the essence of technology is by no means anything technological,” he means that technology’s driving force is not located in machines themselves, nor even in the various human activities that are associated with modern modes of production. In his example of the automobile, the parts the make up the machine as well as the labor of the factory workers all belong to technology, but are not its essence. The “frame of mind” that views the world—its reserves of metal ore, its chemical structures, its human population—as raw materials for the production of automobiles approaches more closely what Heidegger means by the essence of technology. Heidegger’s argument, however, is more far-reaching. He claims that enframing stems from the human drive for a “precise” and “scientific” knowledge of the world.
Heidegger now sets out to place technology within the history of the modern sciences. He makes the remarkable suggestion that in at least one sense modern technology comes before the development of modern physics and actually shapes that development. This claim will make sense to us if we remember that for Heidegger the essence of technology is that orientation to the world he calls “enframing.” Insofar as the human drive for a precise, controllable knowledge of the natural world paves the way for modern physics, we can say that “enframing,” and thus the essence of modern technology, precedes and determines the development of modern science. Understood as such, science for Heidegger was an essential manifestation of the modern age.
The essence of technology can be captured in its definition. In his treatise, The Question Concerning Technology, Martin Heidegger explains two widely embraced definitions of technology: The instrumental and anthropological. Instrumental Definition: Technology is a means to an end Technology is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end. 2. Anthropological Definition: Technology is a human activity Technology can also be defined as a human activity because to achieve an end and to produce and use a means to an end is, by itself, a human activity.
These two approaches, which Heidegger calls, respectively, the “instrumental” and “anthropological” definitions, are indeed “correct”, but do not go deep enough; as he says, they are not yet “true.” Unquestionably, Heidegger points out, technological objects are means for ends, and are built and operated by human beings, but the essence of technology is something else entirely. Just as the essence of a tree is not itself a tree, Heidegger points out, so the essence of technology is not anything technological. “Technology is not equivalent to the essence of technology. When we are seeking the essence of “tree,” we have to become aware that which pervades every tree, as tree, is not itself a tree that can be encountered among all the other trees”.
We have a 3 claims on the analysis of Technology of Martin Heidegger’s in the Question Concerning of Technology. Technology is “not an instrument”, it is a way of understanding the world; Technology is “not a human activity”, but develops beyond human control; and Technology is “the highest danger”, risking us to only see the world through technological thinking.
According to Heidegger, there is something wrong with the modern technological culture we live in today. In our ‘age of technology’ reality can only be present as a raw material (as a ‘standing reserve’). This state of affairs has not been brought about by humans; the technological way of revealing was not chosen by humans. Rather, our understanding of the world – our understanding of ‘being’, of what it means ‘to be’ – develops through the ages. In our time ‘being’ has the character of a technological ‘framework’, from which humans approach the world in a controlling and dominating way.
This technological understanding of ‘being’, according to Heidegger, is to be seen as the ultimate danger. First of all, there is the danger that humans will also interpret themselves as raw materials. Note that we are already speaking about “human resources”! But most importantly, the technological will to power leaves no escape. If we want to move towards a new interpretation of being, this would itself be a technological intervention: we would manipulate our manipulation, exerting power over our way of exerting power. And this would only reconfirm the technological interpretation of being. Every attempt to climb out of technology throws us back in. The only way out for Heidegger is “the will not to will”. We need to open up the possibility of relying on technologies while not becoming enslaved to them and seeing them as manifestations of an understanding of being.
Heidegger points out that there are ultimate responsibility on how we deal on the technology today, he argue our lack of understanding on the essence and the metaphysical way of technology is even more harmful. Heidegger is not an anti - science, he’s not anti – technology. Rather he wants to fight against the actual technological modes of being that it encapsulate the west. In a weird way he believes that this technological way of being would actually kill itself in the end. The Question Concerning Technology ultimately is a critique of a modern ways of being and an inquiry into the metaphysical nature of technology. Again it is important to know that Heidegger is not anti – technology rather he is against the sheer attitude around technology, the hyper obsession of resources and the hyper obsession with productivity that comes with an attitude. Heidegger points out that technology is not technological. Technology is a mode of being and a mode of revealing.
Heidegger’s analysis of technology in the Question Concerning Technology consist of three main claims. Choose one and explain it. Thank you!
Pamela Ella B. Magdaraog BEED 2A