For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The question concerning technology

by Heidegger, Martin (1977)

Abstract

The Question Concerning Technology (German: Die Frage nach der Technik) is a work by Martin Heidegger, in which the author discusses the essence of technology. Heidegger originally published the text in 1954, in Vorträge und Aufsätze. Heidegger initially developed the themes in the text in the lecture "The Framework" ("Das Gestell"), first presented on December 1, 1949, in Bremen. "The Framework" was presented as the second of four lectures, collectively called "Insight into what is." The other lectures were titled "The Thing" ("Das Ding"), "The Danger" ("Die Gefahr"), and "The Turning" ("Die Kehre")

Key Passage

What is modern technology? It too is a  revealing. Only when we allow our attention to rest on  this fundamental characteristic does that which is new in modern technology show itself to us. And  yet  the revealing that holds  sway throughout modern technology does not unfold into a bringing-forth in the sense of poiesis. The revealing that rules in modern technology is a  chal­lenging [Herausfordern], which puts to nature the unreasonable demand  that it  supply energy that can be extracted and stored as such. But does this not hold true for the old windmill as well? No. Its sails do indeed turn in the wind; they are left entirely to the wind's blowing. But the windmill does not unlock energy from the air currents in  order to  store it. In contrast, a tract of land is challenged into the putting out of coal and ore. The earth now reveals itself as a  coal mining dis­trict, the soil as  a  mineral deposit. The field that the peasant formerly cultivated and set in order [bestellte] appears differently than it did when to  set in  order still meant to  take care  of and to maintain. The work of  the peasant  does not challenge the soil of the field. In  the sowing of the grain it places the seed in the keeping of the forces of growth and watches over its increase. But meanwhile even the cultivation of the field has come under the grip of  another  kind of  setting-in-order, which sets upon [stellt] nature. It  sets  upon it  in  the sense of  challenging it. Agriculture is now the mechanized food industry. Air is now set upon to  yield nitrogen, the earth to  yield ore, ore to yield uranium, for example; uranium is  set upon to yield  atomic energy, which can be released either for destruction or for peace­ful use. (p.14)

Keywords

Heidegger, Technology

Themes

The Question Concerning Technology [1949], Heidegger Citations

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