For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Being and Time

by Heidegger, Martin (1962)

Key Passage

When we are using a tool circumspectively, we can say, for instance, that the hammer is too heavy or too light. Even the proposition that the hammer is heavy can give expression to a concernful deliberation, andsignify that the hammer is not an easy one-in other words, that it takes force to handle it, or that it will be hard to manipulate. But this proposition can also mean that the entity before us, which we already knowcircumspectively as a hammer, has a weight-that is to say, it has the 'property' of heaviness : it exerts a pressure on what lies beneath it, and it falls if this is removed. When this kind of talk is so understood, it is nolonger spoken within the horizon of awaiting and retaining an equipmental totality and its involvement-relationships. What is said has been drawn from looking at what is suitable for an entity with 'mass'. We have now sighted something that is suitable for the hammer, not as a tool, but as a corporeal Thing subject to the law of gravity. To talk circumspectively of 'too heavy' or 'too light' no longer has any 'meaning' ; that is to say, the entity in itself, as we now encounter it, gives us nothing with relation to which it could be 'found' too heavy or too light. Why is it that what we are talking about-the heavy hammer-shows itself differently when our way of talking is thus modified? Not because we are keeping our distance from manipulation, nor because we are justlooking away [absehen] from the equipmental character of this entity, but rather because we are looking at [ansehen] the ready-to-hand thing which we encounter, and looking at it 'in a new way' as something present-at- hand. The understanding of Being by which our concernful dealings with entities within-the-world have been guided has changed over. (p.412)


Heidegger, Skills, Meaning, Twentieth Century, Dasein, Being, Phenomenology


Being and Time [1927], Heidegger Citations



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