A Triadic Conversation [16–18]

SCIENTIST: So you think that technology is a kind of language, in which nature is interpreted?

GUIDE: And you think that language is a kind of “expression.”

SCHOLAR: And I think that we are now well on the way to straying from our topic. [17]

SCIENTIST: I have already been asking myself for some time now where our conversation might be heading. We began by recalling our first conversation about cognition, and then we discussed thinking as the “active” component in cognition. In the meantime, we have ended up in the question of the essence of technology.

SCHOLAR: But is not the answer to this question at once a characterization of thinking? For in light of this characterization, the thinking of physics and technology, which sets forth nature as object, shows itself as a human attack on nature.

SCIENTIST: But surely you don’t mean that nature is violated in physics? Nature and nature alone, in the manner that it shows itself to us, has the last word in physics. One of the overwhelming experiences of natural scientists is that nature often answers differently than might have been expected in the questions posed to it by the scientist. And this demonstrates that the human does not sit in judgment of nature, but rather directs himself according to it.

GUIDE: All the same we should reflect more often on whether nature in its objectiveness does not conceal itself more than it shows itself.

SCIENTIST: How are we supposed to assess this? After all, we know nature solely in the manner in which it shows itself to us. If this is the case, how are we ever supposed to check on what it is concealing from us? How can we even presume that nature conceals something from us at all?

SCHOLAR: That sounds convincing to me.

GUIDE:Perhaps, however, there lies precisely in that which nature gives of itself to be known, when human objectification affects it, a mysterious defense against the attack of technology. The discoveries of technology have unleashed [18] powers of nature that are already discharging themselves in a process of annihilation that encompasses the earth.

SCIENTIST: You are probably thinking that culture is now being widely destroyed by technologically steered nature.

SCHOLAR: It seems to me that the destruction affects rather the monuments of past cultures and not culture itself, from which and within which technology for its part arose.

GUIDE: But you might attend to the fact that I spoke of annihilation and not just of destruction. This was done deliberately.

Country Path Conversations

Ἀγχιβασίη: A Triadic Conversation on a Country Path between a Scientist, a Scholar, and a Guide

Country Path Conversations (GA 77) by Martin Heidegger

GA 77 p. 17