For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Jünger’s Concept of the Gestalt of the Worker as the Consummation of Modernity"

by Blok, Vincent (2015)


From 1934–1935 on, Heidegger does not see this positive relation with Junger's concept of work anymore. Heidegger also calls the epoch of the worker "the epoch of the consummation of modernity". Heidegger concentrates on this identification of the subject of The Worker and the way this subject is being discussed in Junger's book. In a note, Heidegger writes: "Junger's descriptions achieve only this: indicating being by showing beings, without questioning this being". But because Junger is absorbed by his responsiveness to the work-character of beings in the whole as worker, he only indicates this essence of the work-world while the question of being itself remains forgotten and concealed. Heidegger calls this new beginning of philosophical reflection a decision. Heidegger speaks about the "great indecisiveness and undecidability of this whole fundamental metaphysical position".

Key Passage

Jünger’s  absorption  by  the  work-world  is  however  not  primarily  his  mistake  or  fault.  According  to  Heidegger,  it  belongs  to  the  inner  logic  of  machination that it conceals itself all the more as it unfolds itself.  19  We can understand  this  self-concealment  of  machination  if  we  remember  Heideg-ger’s analysis of the movement of work in  Being and Time (see Section 6.1); all works are characterized by a double movement of their withdrawal as equipment  in  favor  of  their  presence  as  work.  In  1934–1935,  Heidegger  conceptualizes this double movement in terms of the concealment of machi-nation as the essence of the work-world in favor of its presence as work for the worker. The dominion of machination and lived experience thus reigns in  such  a  way  that  it  demarcates  the  way  in  which  the  world  appears    aswork ( machination) for our human responsiveness as worker ( lived experi-ence ) ,  without ever being accessible for work itself.  20  Heidegger’s criticism of  Jünger’s  concept  of  work  can  therefore  be  understood  as  self-criticism  regarding  his  own  use  of  the  term  in  the  early  1930s.  Our  being-at-work  has  an  origin—the  meaning  or  truth  of  being—which  is  itself  inaccessible  for work and therefore remains forgotten.  21  This forgetfulness, and in this sense the “nihil” of the horizon of being—the meaning of being—within the work-world  of  machination  and  lived  experience,  is  what  Heidegger  calls  the forgottenness of being as the  essence  of Nihilism. (p.80)


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


On Jünger, On Heidegger

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