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

Also in the beginning of the 1930s, Heidegger saw the mission of thought in the destruction of philosophy, i.e., “ the end of metaphysics out of a more originary question regarding the ‘meaning’ (truth) of being.” 34  But when he discusses the concept of work at the beginning of the 1930s, the worker is no longer the one who is absorbed by the ready-to-hand world of work. Contrary to  Being and Time, the worker is precisely the one who is transitory toward a way of human existence that is concerned about the meaning of being. In  The German Stu-dent as Worker from 1932, he argues for instance that the German student has to be understood out of a “complete transformation” of the German reality. He is no longer an academic civilian, but “becomes a worker.”  (p.69)


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


On Jünger, On Heidegger

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