For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Poetry, Language, Thought

by Heidegger, Martin (1971)


Poetry, Language, Thought collects Martin Heidegger's pivotal writings on art, its role in human life and culture, and its relationship to thinking and truth. Essential reading for students and anyone interested in the great philosophers, this book opens up appreciation of Heidegger beyond the study of philosophy to the reaches of poetry and our fundamental relationship to the world. Featuring "The Origin of the Work of Art," a milestone in Heidegger's canon, this enduring volume provides potent, accessible entry to one of the most brilliant thinkers of modern times.

Key Passage

[Extract from: What are Poets for?]-The whole objective inventory in terms  of  which  the  world  appears is given over to, commended to, and  thus  subjected to the command of self-assertive production. Willing  has in it the character of  command;  for purposeful  self-assertion  is a mode in which the attitude of the producing, and the  objective  character of the world,  concentrate  into  an  unconditional  and  therefore  complete  unity. In  this  self-concentration, the command character of the will announces itself. And  through  it  in the course  of  modern  metaphysics,  the  long-concealed  nature of the long-since existing will as the  Being of beings comes to make its appearance. Correspondingly, human willing too can  be  in  the  mode  of  self-assertion  only  by forcing  everything  under its dominion from the start, even before it can survey it. To such a willing, everything, beforehand  and thus  subsequently,  turns  irresistibly into  material  for self-assertive production. The earth and its atmosphere become raw material.  Man becomes  human material, which is disposed of with  a view to  proposed  goals.  The  unconditioned  establishment  of the unconditional  self-assertion  by which the world is purpose-fully made over according to the frame of mind of man's command is  a process  that  emerges from  the  hidden  nature  of  technology.  Only in modern times does this nature begin to unfold  as a destiny of the truth of all beings as a whole; until now, its scattered appearances and attempts had remained incorporated within the embracing structure of the realm of culture and civilization. Modern science and the total state, as necessary consequences of the nature of technology, are also its attendants. The same holds true of the means and forms that are set up for the organization of public  opinion  and  of  men's  everyday  ideas. Not  only  are  living  things technically objectivated in stock-breeding  and exploitation; the attack of atomic physics on the phenomena of living matter as such is in frill swing. At bottom,  the essence of life is supposed to yield  itself to  technical  production.  The  fact  that we  today,  in  all seriousness,  discern  in  the  results  and  the  viewpoint  of  atomic  physics  possibilities  of  demonstrating  human  freedom  and  of  establishing  a new  value  theory,  is a  sign  of the  predominance  of  technological  ideas  whose  development   has  long  since  been  removed  beyond  the  realm  of the  individual's  personal  views  and  opinions. The inherent  natural  power  of  technology  shows  itself  further  in the attempts that are being made, in adjacent  areas so to speak, to master technology with the help of traditional values; but in  these  efforts  technological  means  are  already  being  employed  that  are not  mere  external  forms.  For  generally  the  utilization  of  machinery  and the  manufacture  of machines  is not yet  technology  itself—it   is  only  an  instrument  concordant  with  technology,  whereby  the  nature  of  technology  is  established  in  the  objective  character  of  its  raw  materials.  Even  this,  that  man  becomes  the  subject  and the world the object,  is a consequence of technology's nature establishing itself, and not the other way around. (p.109)


Poetry, Heidegger, Art, Aesthetics, Culture, Artwork, Artist, Poetry, Twentieth Century


What Are Poets For? [1946], Poetry, Language, Thought, Heidegger Citations

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