For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Being and Time

by Heidegger, Martin (1962)

Key Passage

The work to be produced, as the "towards-which" of such things as the hammer, the plane, and the needle, likewise has the kind of Being that belongs to equipment. The shoe which is to be produced is for wearing(footgear) [Schuhzeug] ; the clock is manufactured for telling the time. The work which we chiefly encounter in our concernful dealings-the work that is to be found when one is "at work" on something [ das in Arbeit befindliche]-has a usability which belongs to it essentially ; in this usability it lets us encounter already the "towards-which" for which it is usable. A work that someone has ordered [das bestellte Werk] is onlyby reason of its use and the assignment-context of entities which is discovered in using it.But the work to be produced is not merely usable for something. The production itself is a using of something for something. In the work there is also a reference or assignment to 'materials' : the work is dependent on[angewiesen auf] leather, thread, needles, and the like. Leather, moreover is produced from hides. These are taken from animals, which someone else has raised. Animals also occur within the world without having beenraised at all ; and, in a way, these entities still produce themselves even when they have been raised. So in the environment certain entities become accessible which are always ready-to-hand, but which, in themselves, donot need to be produced. Hammer, tongs, and needle, refer in themselves to steel, iron, metal, mineral, wood, in that they consist of these. In equipment that is used, 'Nature' is discovered along with it by that use-the'Nature' we find in natural products. Here, however, "Nature" is not to be understood as that which is just present-at-hand, nor as the power of Nature. The wood is a forest of timber, the mountain a quarry of rock ; the river is water-power, the wind is wind'in the sails'. As the 'environment' is discovered, the 'Nature' thus discovered is encountered too. If its kind of Being as ready-to-hand is disregarded, this 'Nature' itself can be discovered and defined simply in its pure presence-at-hand. (p.99)


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


Being and Time [1927], Heidegger Citations



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