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

In the “advancement” and “insistence” of the German student as worker, Heidegger sees an indication that our  Dasein begins to shift toward another way  of  being,   43   i.e.,  to  a  way  of  being  of  the  people  that  exposes  itself  to  the meaning or truth of being. Work therefore no longer  prevents access to the meaning of being, but arises out of, and provides access to the experi-ence of being. The essence of work consists here in the care for being. And as Jünger saw the harbingers of the new worker type in the soldiers of the Great War, Heidegger saw the harbingers of  Dasein, which is characterized by the exposure to the meaning of being, in the German students: “This type of student doesn’t ‘study’ anymore, i.e., he does not  sit     somehow secure and ‘strive’ towards something from out of this sitting position. This new type of those who want to know are always on the way. This student becomes a  worker.”   44  At this moment, we find “at every university half a dozen” of these workers. “The new student advances however in the new order of the state’s existence and his national knowledge, and this in such a way that he from his side helps to shape this new order.” (p.71)


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


On Jünger, On Heidegger

Links to Reference



How to contribute.