For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Heidegger's Ontology of Work"

by Blok, Vincent (2015)


In this chapter, the author shows that Heidegger's ontology of work in the 1930s is already prefigured in Being and Time. With this, the question arises how this prefiguration of the "total" work-character in Being and Time is related to the ontology of work in the 1930s. As Heidegger characterizes human dealing with the world indeed as being-at-work in the work-world, but this inclusiveness of our being-in-the-world is not total. Heidegger's conceptualization of care in terms of work makes clear that Junger initially did not have a negative influence on Heidegger's thought at the beginning of the 1930s, as suggested by Michael Zimmermann, namely the stimulus to develop an alternative for the technological future forecasted by Junger. Heidegger's use of the concept of work in the period 1930–1934 is definitely positively inspired by Junger, although not necessarily completely the same as Junger's.

Key Passage

When  we  compare  Jünger’s  description  of  the  total  mobilization  in  the  First  World  War  with  Heidegger’s  description  of  the  work-world  in Being and Time, we encounter one similarity and one difference between the two. Jünger’s  description  of  the  total  mobilization,  in  which  man  and  things  appear as function or operative, is comparable with Heidegger’s description of the ready-to-hand world, which is extended to the whole of being. Also for Heidegger, the whole of nature appears as ready-at-hand equipment or work, which derives its meaning from its productivity (serviceability, usabil-ity): “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.’ ”  22 Contrary to Jünger’s description of the worker as a  functionary within the total mobilization, however, it is clear that for Heidegger, human existence is excluded from this work-character. Human work is indeed  included in the ready-to-hand work-world according to Heidegger and can in this sense be understood as worker, as we have seen in the previous section. Never, how-ever, is human existence itself conceivable as ready-to-hand or as a function-ary in the sense of Jünger .  Why not? “What belongs to the being of  Dasein is not being within the world but being-in-the-world. Intra worldliness cannot even devolve upon the  Dasein.” (p.67)


Heidegger, Ontology, Pragmatism, Relationality, Being, Junger, Zimmermann


On Jünger, On Heidegger

Links to Reference



How to contribute.