For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Marx and Heidegger on the Technological Domination of Nature"

by Zimmerman, Michael (1979)


A confrontation between the thought of Martin Heidegger and that of Karl Marx is very effective in illuminating important aspects of their fundamentally different interpretations of man and history. In this essay, I want to use the question about the technological domination of humanity and Nature to provide the focus for such an informative, clarifying confrontation.

Key Passage

at a certain level, Marx and Heidegger seem to say similar things about the proper functioning of the human being. For Marx, the individual fulfills himself in making, doing, and creating a world for himself. For Heidegger, the individual becomes authentic by letting things be what they can be. For Marx, creative activity is restricted primarily to commodity (alienated) production in the capitalist society, but in the communist world all production would eventually involve the self-fulfillment of the worker's human need to express himself. For Heidegger, "letting beings be" is no simple-minded staring, but could include the activity of the authentic thinker, artist, builder, artisan, farmer, and even the technician — all of whom are part of the cycle of bringing the concealed to unconcealment. Both Heidegger and Marx agree that contemporary industrial culture (rooted in capitalism for Marx, in subjectivism/ humanism for Heidegger) restricts authentic individual life, for commodity production is interested only in growth and expansion of production as such, not in the fulfillment of genuine human possibilities. (p.107)


Heidegger, Marx, Nature, Technology, Destruction, Domination


Technology, On Heidegger, Marx

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