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

We can conclude that Heidegger, at the beginning of the 1930s, seemed to  be  quite  revolutionary  in  heralding  the  other  beginning  of  philosophy.  Inspired by Jünger, he developed a destructed concept of work and will to characterize  his  own  way  of  philosophical  thinking,  and  was    willing  the  overcoming  of  the  metaphysics  of  the  will  to  power.   30   But  from  the  con-frontation  with  Jünger,  Heidegger  learned  that  every  “overcoming  of  the  metaphysics of the will to power” is doomed, as long as it is characterized by work and will.  31  Working and willing is absorbed in the circular course from  the  work-character  of  the  world  to  the  work-character  of  the  way  human being is dealing with it, the circular course which indicates the end of metaphysics. To put it differently, Heidegger learned from Jünger that the overcoming of the metaphysics of the will to power is the  circumambula-tion within metaphysics and not the  transition to another beginning of phi-losophical thinking, as long as it is characterized by will and work. As soon as Heidegger realized again, as in  Being and Time, that our being-at-workis absorbed by the work-character of the world, he realized again that there is no way from our working responsiveness to the work-world to our care for the meaning of being, and that we have to release ourselves from work, will and technicity in order to enhance our ability to reflect on the meaning of being. When he realized this, he began to advocate the release from the willful way of thinking. In his later work, Heidegger speaks about the will-ing of the nonwilling, about a  gelassen or non-willing way of philosophical thinking—because  the  will  itself  is  the  main  barrier  for  the  experience  of  “Being.”  32   In  light  of  the  findings  of  the  previous  section,  we  can  under-stand  this  free  relation  as  the    de-formalization  of  the  distinction  between  the  work-character  of  beings  in  the  whole  and  the  question  regarding  the  meaning of being.The experience of “Being” demands our bidding farewell to the concept of work and will, and demands a radically different other beginning of phi-losophical reflection ( Besinnung ) .  “Why a beginning at all? . . . Because only the greatest occurrence, the innermost knowing, can still save us from being lost in the bustle of mere events and machinations. What must take place is  enopening  being  for  us  and  putting  us  back  into  this  [Being]  and  thus  bringing us to ourselves and before the work and the sacrifice.” (p.81)


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


On Jünger, On Heidegger

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