Martin. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. 1954.
New York: Harper, 1986.
Heidegger questions the nature of technology, seeking a corrective to
instrumentalism or treatments of technology that focus merely on the technical
or the treat it as neutral or destined. He winds through a sequence of
analytical claims set up to distinguish an essence of technology: enframing.
Heidegger wants to resist both instrumentalism (means to an end) and
anthropological (human activity) perspectives on technology. Questioning, he
contends, will open "our human existence to the essence of technology" (311). To
explain causality in technology, Heidegger examines a silver chalice. He
presents four causal aspects that can be separated or categorized for any
produced thing: materialis (matter from which it is made), formalis
(shape), finalis (end), and efficiens (the effect). In the four
causes we find instrumentality (314). Efficiens or the occasion is the most
complex of the four because it connects with responsibility and also combines
both poiesis and physis (which lead toward enframing?).
Unless we question technology, "we remain unfree and chained to technology"
(311). This is why we should recognize technology as being about "bringing
forward" or revealing, or, that is, emphasize agency in shaping technology
through production and presenting (poiesis). Enframing, as the essence of
technology, introduces both danger (destining or destining of revealing) and
opportunity. Also, enframing endures or persists: this is something like a
perlocutionary effect of technology (if we could widen speech acts to something
like technological acts): made things have a long life inflected (even
determined by) production and presentation, provided we encounter them with an
understanding of the poetic (and rhetorical). Basically, with a call for
questioning technology, Heidegger affirms poetics (the creative power of
language). "Questions Concerning" might also be read as an argument for
humanized technology or critical perspectives on technology that call into check
its ubiquity or fervor about it being destined/predetermined. There is
also a subtext of agrarian nostalgia, longing for preindustrial days.
Terms: "telic finality" (314), "standing reserve" (322), enframing (324)
On how to read "Questions Concerning": "We would be advised, therefore, above
all to pay heed to the way, and not to fix our attention on
isolated sentences and topics" (311).
"Accordingly, the correct instrumental definition of technology still does
not show us technology’s essence" (313).
"The principle characteristic of being responsible is this starting something
on its way into arrival" (316): to occasion (as we approach enframing as
essence). The occasion ties in with poiesis and physis.
"The modes occasioning, the four causes, are at play, then, within bringing
"Technology is therefore no mere means. Technology is a way of revealing"
"The revealing that rules throughout modern technology has the character of a
setting-upon, in the sense of a challenging-forth" (321).
"Modern technology, as a revealing that orders, is thus no mere
human doing" (324)
"For idea names not only the nonsensuous aspect of what
is physically visible. Aspect (idea) names and also is that
which constitutes the essence in the audible, the tasteable, the tactile, in
everything that is in any way accessible" (325).
"The word stellen [to set] in the name Ge-stell [enframing]
does not only mean challenging. At the same time it should preserve the
suggestion of another Stellen from which it stems, namely that
producing and presenting [Her-und Dar-stellen], which in the
sense of poiesis, lets what presences come forth into unconcealment"
"The merely instrumental, merely anthropological definition of
technology is therefore in principle untenable" (326).
"[Enframing] is nothing technological, nothing on the order of a
"The essence of modern technology lies in enframing. Enframing belongs
within the destining of revealing. These sentences express something
different from the talk that we hear more frequently, to the effect that
technology is the fate of our age, where ‘fate’ means the inevitableness of an
unalterable course" (330).
"But enframing does not simply endanger man in his relationship to himself
and to everything that is. As a destining, it banishes man into the kind of
revealing that is an ordering" (332). Rings of Foucault in TOOT.
"Enframing is a way of revealing that is a destining, namely, the way
that challenges forth. The revealing that brings forth (poiesis) is also a way
that has the character of destining" (335).
"Thus enframing, as a destining of revealing, is indeed the essence of
technology, but never in the sense of genus and essentia"
"Everything, then, depends upon this: that we ponder this rising and that,
recollecting, we watch over it" (337).
"The essence of technology is in a lofty sense ambiguous"
"The closer we come to the danger, the more brightly do the ways into the
saving power begin to shine and the more questioning we become. For
questioning is the piety of thought" (341).