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Continental Philosophy

Martin Heidegger

What was Martin Heidegger’s question concerning technology?

Heidegger’s question was the same question that hangs over us at this time: will technology destroy the world as we know it? But Heidegger’s understanding of technology was unlike environmentalist thought that distinguished the artificial from what is natural. As part of what it means to say that “the world worlds,” Heidegger believed that technology was a process arising from Being, insofar as human beings are the custodians of Being in their own being, albeit without a full understanding of what is involved in their relationship to Being.

Technology, according to Heidegger, was an “enframing” force and process that emerges from Dasein’s relationship to being: all beings are marshalled and regimented to present themselves as uniform types of objects; human activities and the beauties of nature are also enframed and presented back to Dasein as items for use or consumption. In Heidegger’s terms, a particularly plaintive example of such processing is the redirection and artificialization of the River Rhine as a tourist attraction.

As part of his analysis of the historical force of technology that has arisen from a distinctively human understanding of Being, Heidegger insists that technology is not an effect of science, but the reverse. Science and scientific research are no more than the results of more general technological forces.



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