Between Τέχνη and Technology: The Ambiguous Place of Equipment in Being and Time

Hubert L. Dreyfus

I. Introduction

Heidegger's occasional retrospective remarks on Being and Time are mostly limited to pointing out the way Being and Time is already on the way to overcoming metaphysics by reawakening concern with Being1, or to acknowledging Being and Time's transcendental neglect of the history of Being.2 But one looks in vain through Heidegger's occasional references to his most celebrated work for an indication of how we are to fit Being and Time into the history of Being which later Heidegger elaborated. To what extent is Being and Time itself metaphysical? To what extent is it nihilistic? As a step toward answering these difficult questions, one might well begin by asking a more manageable question: To what extent is the account of the being of equipment in Being and Time a critique of the ontology of technology and to what extent is it a contribution to the development of a technological understanding of Being?

In his reflections on Nietzsche, Heidegger singles out the subject/object distinction as the philosophical development which makes possible modern technology:

In this revolutionary objectifying of everything that is, the earth, that which first of all must be put at the disposal of representing and setting forth, moves into the midst of human positing and analyzing. The earth itself can show itself only as the object of assault, an assault that, in human willing, establishes itself as unconditional objectification. Nature appears everywhere — because willed from out of the essence of Being — as the object of technology.3

Insofar, then, as the analysis of Dasein as Being-in-the-world offers a phenomenological critique of the subject/object relation, Being and Time would seem to stand in direct opposition to the technological understanding of Being.

Likewise, the central theme of Division I of Being and Time, that ready-to-hand equipment is ontologically more fundamental than present-at-hand objects, in that present-at-hand objects can be made intelligible as privative (i.e., decontextualized) modes of equipment, whereas equipmental relations can never be built up by adding value predicates to present-at-hand objects, is directly opposed to the implicit ontology of objective thought. Calculating, logistic intelligibility is criticized by showing its dependence upon the non-formalizable everyday intelligibility of the primordial way human beings encounter entities within the world.4

The phenomenological description of our primordial way of encountering entities purports to light up a way of being which has not changed since the beginning of our history. In his lectures from the period of Being and Time, Heidegger does not hesitate to read this everyday understanding of beings as equipment back into the meaning of οὐσία.

That which first of all constantly lies-before in the closest circle of human activity and accordingly is constantly disposable is the whole of all things of use with which we constantly have to do, the whole of all those existent things which are themselves meant to be used on one another, the implement that is employed and constantly used products of nature: house and yard, forest and field, sun, light and heat. What is thus tangibly present for dealing with is reckoned by everyday experience as that which is, a being, in the primary sense ... [T]he pre-philosophical proper meaning of οὐσία ... Accordingly a being is synonymous with an at-hand disposable.5

It is precisely the loss of the everyday understanding of the priority of things of use, reflected in Descartes' subject/object metaphysics, which provides the conditions for the rise of modem science:

We first arrive at science as research when and only when truth has been transformed into the certainty of representation.
What it is to be is for the first time defined as the objectiveness of representing, and truth is first defined as the certainty of representing, in the metaphysics of Descartes. (QCT, 127)

Being and Time, then, sets out to rescue beings from objectivity and representation by returning to a pre-philosophical, a-historical understanding of equipment.

So it might have seemed in 1927, but Heidegger's later understanding of the history of Western Thought reveals that things may not be so simple. Indeed, there are hints scattered throughout Heidegger's later works that in opposing the subject/object ontology by an appeal to the primacy of equipment, Being and Time was itself a formulation of the penultimate stage of technology.

As early as The Origin of the Work of Art — the only sustained treatment of equipmentality after Being and Time — Heidegger notes "the possibility ... that differences relating to the history of Being may also be present in the way equipment is."6 This immediately casts suspicion on the a-historical transcendental priority given to equipment in Being and Time. And, indeed, at this same point in the text Heidegger cautions against "making thing and work prematurely into subspecies of equipment." (PLT, 32)

Heidegger, however, never works out a history of the being of equipment, so we will have to construct it from hints. The most important of these hints are Heidegger's discussion of the Greek notion of τέχνη at the beginning of our history and his remark in "Science and Reflection" that, in the technological understanding of the being, subject and object no longer stand in a relation of representation but are both absorbed into a total systematic ordering. ("Both subject and object are sucked up as standing-reserve.") (QCT, 173). It follows that opposing the Cartesian subject/object distinction in terms of an account of Dasein as a user of equipment becomes an ambiguous form of opposition, for it is no longer clear whether such an analysis offers a critique of technology in the form of a transcendental account of the pre-technological everyday understanding of equipment, or whether, under the guise of a transcendental account of everyday activity, such an analysis reflects a transition in the history of the way equipment is which prepares the way for technology. In other words, it is not clear whether Being and Time opposes technology or promotes it.

The answer to this question can only be found in a detailed analysis of the phenomenology of equipment and worldhood offered in Being and Time. As we turn to Being and Time our Vorgriff be the hypothesis that the analysis of equipment in Being and Time is neither pre-technological nor fully technological, but rather, that Being and Time plays a transitional role in the history of the being of equipment. That, far from resisting the modern tendency to transform everything into standing-reserve, the understanding of the being of the ready-to-hand in Being and Time leaves equipment available for the assault of technology, the way the Cartesian understanding of the being of the present-at-hand made nature available for the assault of scientific research. Thus, early Heidegger might be said to have a privileged place in the transition from τέχνη to technology, which corresponds to Descartes' privileged place in the transition from theorea to modern science.

II. Sketch of a History of the Being of Equipment

The way equipment is no doubt goes through as many stages as there are epochs in the history of Being. For our purposes, however, it will suffice to distinguish three stages. Sociologically we might equate these three periods with craftsmanship, industrialization and cybernetic control, which find expression, respectively, in the Greek notion of τέχνη, pragmatism, and systems theory as the basis of global planning.

Distinguishing three stages in the history of the being of equipment enables us to avoid two simple interpretations of the place of equipment in Being and Time which at first seem attractive. One reading notes the similarity between Heidegger's remark in Being and Time that "the wood is a forest of timber; the mountain a quarry of rock, the river is water-power ... " (BT, 100), and his later observations that in the clearing opened up by technology "the river is a ... water-power supplier ... " (QCT, 16) and "nature becomes a gigantic gasoline station ..."7 This interpretation concludes that the identification of Nature in Being and Time as "an entity within-the-world which is proximally ready-to-hand" (BT, 128) shows that the understanding of equipment in Being and Time is already fully technological. The opposite interpretation, on the other hand, sees no step-wise history of the being of equipment but only a total opposition between the pre-technological and the technological. Since, according to Heidegger, ". . . calculated being makes beings into what can be mastered by modern, mathematically structured technology, which is something essentially different from every other hitherto known use of tools,"8 and since Being and Time explicitly denies the possibility of a "mathematical functionalization" (BT, 122) of the ready-to-hand, this interpretation concludes that Being and Time presents an account of man's perennial tool using stance which is radically opposed to the technological understanding of equipment.

The very possibility of these two simplistic readings suggests that Being and Time offers an understanding of the being of equipment which hovers ambiguously between that of craftsmanship and technology and so tempts readers to identify Being and Time with one or the other, while at the same time resisting either assimilation. We will now attempt to bring the intermediate position of Being and Time into focus by comparing what later Heidegger says about the Greek and the technological understanding of use, equipment, and nature, with the account of these phenomena in Being and Time. Only then will we be in a position to move from these ontic considerations to an ontological account of the difference between the world of the craftsman, worldhood in Being and Time, and the way of revealing of technology.

The essential characteristic of equipment at any period is that it is used, but usefulness itself turns out to have a history. In What is Called Thinking? Heidegger attempts to recover Parmenides' understanding of χρή by discussing the early Greek understanding of "the useful."

"To use" means, first, to let a thing be what it is and how it is. To let it be this way requires that the used thing be cared for in its essential nature — we do so by responding to the demands which the used thing makes manifest in the given instance.9
"Using" does not mean the mere utilizing, using up, exploiting. Utilization is only the degenerate and debauched form of use. When we handle a thing, for example, our hand must fit itself to the thing. Use implies fitting response. (WCT, 187)

The degenerate form of use — exploiting — clearly corresponds to the technological attitude in which equipment is only insofar as it is at our disposal — otherwise it is to be ignored or disposed of. To describe this "debauched" form Heidegger paraphrases Rilke on the Ersatz:

[O]bjects are produced to be used up. The more quickly they are used up, the greater becomes the necessity to replace them even more quickly and more readily . . . What is constant in things produced as objects merely for consumption is: the substitute — Ersatz. (PLT, 130) {2001 edition, 127}

Equipment in Being and Time is not assimilable to either of these extremes. It is characterized by disposability: "Equipment . . . is manipulable in the broadest sense and at our disposal" (BT, 98). A hammer, for example, is defined in Being and Time in terms of its function — how it is utilized — its in-order-to. On this view it makes no sense to speak of equipment's essential nature, and, in spite of the manual implications of Zuhandenheit, in all the discussions of hammering there is no mention of hands. There is, in fact, no place for a "fitting response." Yet the hammer is not something standing by to be used-up and disposed of like a styrofoam cup, a ball-point pen, or the latest type of fever thermometer. Rather, there is still talk of taking care of equipment - not the way the craftsman takes care of his personal tools, but the way the foreman takes care of industrial equipment. Thus, when manipulation ceases, care "can take on a more precise kind of circumspection, such as 'inspecting', checking up on what has been attained, or looking over the 'operations'" (BT, 409). This seems to suggest a three stage progression, or better a degeneration in the history of equipment from use, to utility as fulfilling a function, to using-up as exploitation.

The above decline from craftsmanship to industrial production to technology can be seen even more clearly if we turn from the equipment the craftsman uses to the equipment he produces. The craftsman, Heidegger tells us, must be understood as responding to his materials:

[A] true cabinetmaker ... makes himself answer and respond above all to the different kinds of wood and to the shapes slumbering within wood — to wood as it enters into man's dwelling with all the hidden riches of its nature. In fact, this relatedness to wood is what maintains the whole craft.
Without that relatedness, the craft will never be anything but empty busywork, any occupation with it will be determined exclusively by business concerns. (WCT, 21, 22)

Indeed, without concern for the nature of its materials, craftsmanship turns into industrial production:

[W]hat maintains and sustains even this handicraft is not the mere manipulation of tools, but the relatedness to wood. But where in the manipulations of the industrial worker is there any relatedness to such things as the shapes slumbering within wood? (WCT, 23)

In Being and Time we find no place for the resistance and the reliability of equipment — only its on-going functioning or its breakdown. There is no mention of "the hidden riches of nature;' In the language of the later Heidegger, Being and Time has no place for the withdrawal and resistance of the Earth. As Heidegger remarks in discussing Van Gogh's painting of the peasant's shoes, as if he were repudiating the simple pragmatism of Being and Time:

The equipmental quality of the equipment consists indeed in its usefulness. But this usefulness itself rests in the abundance of an essential being of the equipment. We call it reliability. By virtue of this reliability the peasant woman is made privy to the silent call of the earth ...
The usefulness of equipment is . . . the essential consequence of reliability. (PLT, 34, 35)

If equipmentality is equated merely with usefulness as utility without resistance or reliability, the stage is set for technology. Everything becomes available for cost/benefit analysis.

[T]he setting-upon that challenges forth the energies of nature is an expediting ... [E]xpediting is always itself directed from the beginning toward furthering something else, i.e., toward driving on to the maximum yield at the minimum expense. (QCT, 15)

Having no nature of its own industrialized equipment is ready to be absorbed into the constant restructuring which is the final form of technological organization — beyond objectification, and even beyond the fixed functions of the ready-to-hand.

Everywhere everything is ordered to stand by, to be immediately at hand, indeed to stand there just so that it may be on call for a further ordering. Whatever is ordered about in this way has its own standing. We call it the standing-reserve [Bestand] . .. Whatever stands by in the sense of standing-reserve no longer stands over against us as object. (WCT, 17)

Heidegger's notion of Bestand enables us to distinguish three ways that nature can be understood. For the first thinkers, according to Heidegger, nature was self-contained.

For the Greeks, φύσις is the first and the essential name for beings themselves and as a whole. For them the being is what flourishes on its own, in no way compelled, what rises and comes forward, and what goes back into itself and passes away.10

In Being and Time nature is encountered as a source of raw material.

In the environment certain entities become accessible which are always ready-to-hand, but which, in themselves, do not need to be produced. Hammer, tongs, and needle, refer in themselves to steel, iron, metal, mineral, wood, in that they consist of these. In equipment that is used, 'Nature' is discovered along with it by that use ... (BT, 100)

In advanced technology, nature is attacked and transformed to insure that it will always be available for use and further development.

[A] tract of land is challenged into the putting out of coal and ore. The earth now reveals itself as a coal mining district, the soil as a mineral deposit. (QCT, 14)
"Challenging forth into revealing ... concerns nature, above all, as the chief storehouse of the standing energy reserve." (QCT, 21)

With respect to the being of nature, then, Being and Time shows itself to be again transitional. When Being and Time describes the river as waterpower, there is no suggestion that this power is a gift, but neither is there talk of a hydroelectric power-station which dams up the river in order to convert it into a pure energy reservoir. But to understand fully the significance of Being and Time's transitional position we must ask: Does Being and Time contend that the river is, among other things, a source of energy, or does it hold that the use of the river as water-power is the primordial way the river is encountered?

Here Being and Time reveals its profound ambiguity. At first it seems that approaching nature in terms of its utility — what one might call the pragmatism of Being and Time — is only one ontic way of encountering it. Indeed, according to a puzzling passage early in Being and Time, there are at least three ways of encountering nature. Nature can be encountered as ready-to-hand, present-at-hand, or as the Nature which "stirs and strives":

As the 'environment' is discovered, the 'Nature' thus discovered is encountered too. If its kind of Being as ready-to-hand is disregarded, this 'Nature' itself can be discovered and defined simply in its pure presence-at-hand. But when this happens, the Nature which 'stirs and strives', which assails us and enthralls us as landscape, remains hidden. (BT, 100)

Yet, the rest of Being and Time concentrates on showing that nature as presentat- hand must be a privative mode of the ready-to-hand: "The entity which Descartes is trying to grasp ontologically and in principle with his 'extensio', is rather such as to become discoverable first of all by going through an entity within-the-world which is proximally ready-to-hand — Nature" (BT, 128). The nature that stirs and strives is never mentioned again.

These hesitations and contradictions regarding the place of nature, must finally be settled on the level of ontology. Thus Heidegger's pragmatic view of Nature only becomes clear in the discussion of reality at the end of Division I:

The 'Nature' by which we are 'surrounded' is, of course, an entity within-the-world; but the kind of Being which it shows belongs neither to the ready-to-hand nor to what is present-at-hand as 'Things of Nature: No matter how this Being of 'Nature' may be Interpreted, all the modes of Being of entities within-the-world are founded ontologically upon the worldhood of the world, and accordingly upon the phenomenon of Being-in-the-world. (BT, 254)

Nature is neither present-at-hand nor ready-to-hand, yet the being of nature must be understood as founded upon worldhood. To understand worldhood, however, Heidegger tells us, we must begin with an account of equipment. Now the primary point which distinguishes equipment from "mere things" is its thoroughgoing interrelatedness:

To the being of any equipment there always belongs a totality of equipment, in which it can be this equipment that it is. (BT, 97)

What it is to be a hammer is just to be related in appropriate ways to nails, carpenters, furniture, houses, families, and so on. In other words, what an item of equipment is is entirely dependent on how it is incorporated into a total equipment context. Thus:

As the Being of something ready-to-hand, an involvement is itself discovered only on the basis of the prior discovery of a totality of involvements. So in any involvement that has been discovered (that is, in anything ready-to-hand which we encounter), what we have called the "worldly character" of the ready-to-hand has been discovered beforehand. (BT, 118)

At this point, in a move whose full implications only become apparent later, Heidegger passes from speaking of a referential totality to talking of the referential totality.

The "for-the-sake-of-which" signifies an "in-order-to"; this in turn, a "towards-this"; the latter, an "in-which" of letting something be involved; and that in turn, the "with-which" of an involvement. These relationships are bound up with one another as a primordial totality ... The relational totality of this signifying we call "significance". This is what makes up the structure of the world. (BT, 120)

Thus, in spite of Heidegger's acknowledgement that nature is not ready-to-hand, it follows that all beings including those of nature are founded ontologically upon the structure of the equipmental totality, and, indeed: "Readiness-to-hand is the way in which entities as they are 'in themselves' are defined ontologico-categorially" (BT, 101).

Heidegger clearly wished to resist this conclusion. In a torturous footnote discussing Nature in The Essence of Reasons, he protests that "a study of the ontological structure of 'environmental' being (insofar as it is discovered as tool)" is a "preliminary characterization of the phenomenon of world." Such an account, Heidegger assures us, only "prepares the way for the transcendental problem of world."11 Yet in Being and Time, Division II, Chapter 4, when the temporal schema is introduced in its transcendental role as "the existential-temporal condition for the possibility of the world" (BT, 416), the "present" dimension of the horizontal schema is still the in-order-to and Heidegger repeats on this transcendental level the claim of Division I that "significance-relationships ... determine the structure of the world" (BT, 417). Thus, even on the transcendental level, the world is equated with the referential totality, and all entities, including Nature, can only be encountered as they show up in the equipmental world.

In spite of Heidegger's published disclaimers, the dangerous consequences of the ontological priority given to Dasein's practical activity are everywhere evident in Being and Time. Even language is ontologically grounded in the totality of equipment:

[I]n significance. . . there lies the ontological condition which makes it possible for Dasein, as something which understands and interprets, to disclose such things as 'significations'; upon these, in turn, is founded the Being of words and of language. (BT, 121)

Here the pragmatic implications are so unacceptable that, rather than try to retroactively reinterpret Being and Time, Heidegger is obliged to repudiate the priority of the equipmental context. In his own copy of Being and Time he wrote at this point: "Unwahr. Sprache ist nicht aufgestockt, sondern ist ursprüngliche Wesen der Wahrheit als Da."12

The full technological tendency implied in the ontological priority granted to the structure of the referential totality as the structure of the world only becomes apparent, however, when we investigate in slow motion Heidegger's sleight of hand with the notion of totality. As we have seen, when introducing the notion of equipment, Heidegger tells us that a condition of the possibility of equipment is that it functions within a relatively autonomous local context (the workshop, the room, etc.) In Being and Time Heidegger calls these contexts "regions."

Something like a region must first be discovered if there is to be any possibility of allotting or coming across places for a totality of equipment that is circumspectively at one's disposal. (BT, 136)

But, to complete the ontological project of Being and Time, Heidegger must show "how the aroundness of the environment, the specific spatiality of entities encountered within the environment, is founded upon the worldhood of the world" (BT, 135). He thus expands the local context to a single overarching totality. He recognizes that this tendency to totalize is a specifically modem phenomenon whose full meaning he realizes has not yet been revealed:

In Dasein there lies an essential tendency towards closeness. All the ways in which we speed things up, as we are more or less compelled to do today, push us on towards the conquest of remoteness. With the 'radio', for example, Dasein has so expanded its everyday environment that it has accomplished a de-severance of the 'world' - a de-severance which, in its meaning for Dasein, cannot yet be visualized. (BT, 140)13

It is as if in Being and Time Dasein is already uprooted from the dwelling in nearness which is illustrated by Heidegger in his description of "the bridge which gathers the earth as landscape around the stream" (PLT, 152). {2001, 150} Indeed, the totality of equipment more closely resembles "the highway bridge ... tied into the network of long-distance traffic ..." (PLT, 152), for equipment in Being and Time is finally taken to be dependent on one total network in which it is a node. This is a complete reversal of the ancient understanding evoked by Heidegger, in which the thing is not a slot in a global totality, but rather that which organizes a local region around itself.

[T]he bridge does not first come to a location to stand in it; rather, a location comes into existence only by virtue of the bridge. . . Accordingly, spaces receive their being from locations and not from "space." (PLT, 154) {2001, 152}

The failure to realize "the origin of space in the properties peculiar to site"l4, plus the ontologizing of the pragmatic structure of temporality, enables Heidegger in Being and Time to treat spatiality as a mode of temporality — a form of metaphysical violence he later retracts. ("The attempt in Being and Time, section 70, to derive human spatiality from temporality is untenable" (OTB, 23).)

The idea that in the technological world equipment more and more comes to fit together in one single totality is already a step from the relatively autonomous and autochthonous workshop of the craftsman towards the uprooted interconnectedness of industrial mass production. Its final achievement would be a world system under the feedback control of cybernetics. Heidegger makes a similar point in The Question Concerning Technology, when he criticizes Hegel's definition of the machine as an autonomous tool and contrasts the autonomous tools of the craftsman with the total ordering characteristic of the technological machine.

When applied to the tools of the craftsman, [Hegel's] characterization is correct. Characterized in this way, however, the machine is not thought at all from out of the essence of technology within which it belongs. Seen in terms of the standing-reserve, the machine is completely unautonomous, for it has its standing only from the ordering of the orderable. (QCT, 17)

In The Question Concerning Technology the total system of ordering in which all beings are caught up, stored, and endlessly switched around is called the Gestell. This technological kind of revealing or clearing is contrasted with the worlding of the world of the craftsman. In fact, according to later Heidegger the technological totality is no world at all.

[I]n the ordering of the standing-reserve, the truth of Being remains denied as world. (QCT, 48)

Heidegger's identification of the "phenomenon of world" (with its structure, worldhood) with a single referential totality in Being and Time can thus be seen as a transitional stage. By highlighting the interrelationship between all items of equipment and by defining equipment by its position in this referential totality, Being and Time denies localness, thus removing the last barrier to global totalization, and preparing the way for the "total mobilization of all beings" which, according to later Heidegger, makes up the essence of technology.15

III. Conclusion

Seen in the light of the relation of nature and technology revealed by later Heidegger, Being and Time appears in the history of the being of equipment not just as a transition but as the decisive step towards technology. (A step later Heidegger tries, unconvincingly, to read back into Nietzsche.) As later Heidegger sees it, at the beginning of our history τέχνη was subordinated to nature or φύσις:

If man tries to win a foothold and establish himself among the beings (φύσις) to which he is exposed, if he proceeds to master beings in this way or that way, then his advance against beings is borne and guided by a knowledge of them. Such knowledge is called τέχνη ... (NI, 81)
[T]he bringing-forth of artworks as well as utensils is an irruption by the man who knows and who goes forward in the midst of φύσις and upon its basis. (NI, 82)

In Being and Time, however, the relation between φύσις and τέχνη is transposed: Nature can be encountered only as it fits, or fails to fit, into the referential totality. This is a crucial reversal of the Greek understanding, for the "going-forward" of τέχνη "thought in Greek fashion, is no kind of attack; it lets what is already coming to presence arrive" (NI, 82).16 In Being and Time there is no outright attack but no openness to arrival either. But it is precisely this lack of receptivity to "the nature that stirs and strives" which leaves open, indeed, encourages, the kind of attack and reordering of nature which encounters natural objects as Bestand.

This can be seen even more clearly if we look at the role assigned to care by the early Greeks, Being and Time, and technology. According to later Heidegger we must "conceive of the innermost essence of τέχνη . . . as . . . care" (NI, 164). For the Greeks "such carefulness is more than practiced diligence; it is the mastery of a composed resolute openness to beings ... (NI, 164). This sounds at first exactly like the characterization of Sorge in Being and Time. But Heidegger hastens to add: "The unite of μελέτη and τέχνη ... characterizes the basic posture of the forward-reaching disclosure of Dasein, which seeks to ground beings on their own terms" (NI, 165). This qualification shows again that in Being and Time the relationship between Dasein and beings is reversed. Beings are discovered in terms of Dasein's concerns. The care structure is definitive of Dasein, the being whose being is an issue for it, and beings are disclosed in terms of Dasein's possibilities. The interconnection between significance, the totality of involvements, worldhood, and Dasein's possibilities as conditions for encountering beings is laid out in Division II.

Any discovering of a totality of involvements goes back to a "for-the-sake-of-which"; and on the understanding of such a "for-the-sake-of-which" is based in turn the understanding of significance as the disclosedness of the current world. In seeking shelter, sustenance, livelihood, we do so "for-the-sake-of' constant possibilities of Dasein which are very close to it; upon these the entity for which its own Being is an issue, has already projected itself. (BT, 344)

To be sure, Dasein is not a subject and the for-the-sake-of-which is not a goal. But this only shows that as far as the referential totality is concerned, Heidegger is already beyond the willful understanding of care as individual self-assertion which gradually becomes explicit in the development of objectivity from Descartes to Nietzsche, and finds expression in early industrialization. For Rilke, Heidegger tells us, modern

'caring" has the character of purposeful self-assertion by the ways and means of unconditional production. (PLT, 120) {2001, 117, 118}

Such willful self-assertion still resists impersonal, global technology. The account of worldhood in Being and Time, however, removes every vestige of resistance — that of φύσις, as well as that of will and subjectivity — to the technological tendency to treat all beings (even man) as resources. Nothing stands in the way of the final possibility that for Dasein the only issue left becomes ordering for the sake of order itself. This is the understanding of Being definitive of technological nihilism, an understanding prepared but not consummated by the account of equipment in Being and Time.


1 See Martin Heidegger, "Letter on Humanism;' Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell (New York: Harper & Row, 1977.

2 Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche II (Pfullingen: Gunther Neske, 1961), where Heidegger speaks of the questions of Being and Time as "hermeneutisch-transcendentale Fragen noch nicht seinsgeschichtlich gedacht," p. 45.

3 Martin Heidegger, "The World of Nietzsche: 'God is Dead'," in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. William Lovitt (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), p. 100. Hereafter, cited in text as QCT.

4 For an elaboration and application of Heidegger's argument, see Hubert Dreyfus, What Computers Can't Do (New York: Harper & Row, 1979).

5 Martin Heidegger, Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie, Gesamtausgabe, Band 24 (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1975), pp. 152, 153. Heidegger would, however, be reluctant to read our everyday understanding of equipment back into prehistory. As he notes in Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 113: "Perhaps even readiness-to-hand and equipment have nothing to contribute as ontological clues in interpreting the primitive world ..." Being and Time cited hereafter in text as BT.

6 Martin Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art;' in Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), p. 32. Hereafter, PLT.

Links to PLT pages are to the 2001 edition. Where the page numbers differ the 2001 page numbers are in curly braces.

7 Martin Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking, trans. by John Anderson and E. Hans Freund (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), p. 50.

8 Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Ralph Manheim (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1969), p. 162.

9 Martin Heidegger, What is Called Thinking?, trans. Fred D. Wieck and J. Glenn Gray (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), p. 191. Hereafter, cited in text as WCT.

10 Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche, Vol. I (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), p. 81. (Hereafter cited in text as NI)

11 Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Reasons, trans. Terrence Malick (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969), p. 81.

12 Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Niemeyer Verlag, 1977), p. 442.

13 From the point of view of the account of Falling in Being and Time, it might seem that this tendency to bring everything close is the result of curiosity (BT, p. 216), and so would be overcome by authentic resoluteness as described in Division II. Indeed, we are told in Division II that resolute Dasein is plunged into its own concrete, local situation. ("Resoluteness brings the Being of the 'there' into the existence of its Situation." BT, p. 347) But it is also clear in Division II that this characteristic of resolute Dasein does not change the fact that the only clearing for encountering entities conceivable within the framework of Being and Time remains the public referential totality laid out by the Anyone. ("The Anyone itself articulates the referential context of significance;' BT, p. 167.) In Division II, Heidegger states explicitly: "As phenomena which are examples of Being among, we have chosen the using, manipulation, and producing of the ready-to-hand ... In this kind of concern Dasein's authentic existence too maintains itself, even when for such existence this concern is 'a matter of indifference'." BT, p. 403)

14 Martin Heidegger, On Time and Being, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), p. 23. Hereafter, cited in text as OTB.

15 Martin Heidegger, The Question of Being, trans. Jean T. Wilde and William Kluback (New Haven: College & University Press, 1958).

16 That this is, indeed, a reversal of the traditional ontological view inherited from the Greeks, is clear in Heidegger's lectures from the Summer Semester of 1925, Prolegomena zur Geshichte des Zeitsbegriffs, ed. Petra Jaeger, Gesamtausgabe, Band 20 (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1979), pp. 270-271: "One will perhaps say that precisely this Vorhandene—the environing Nature—is the most real, the authentic reality of the world ... Without this most real—viz., nature, earth, ground—everything earthly cannot be, perhaps not even Dasein itself. The workworld bears references to beings in themselves, a fact which, in the end, makes clear that it—the workworld, the world of concern - is absolutely not the primary being ... This consequence, it appears, is unavoidable. But what then does it mean: the world of nature is in the sense of the analysis of most real? ... The environing references in which nature is primarily present in a worldly way signifies just the opposite: that the reality of nature is to be understood only as Worldhood. The ontical dependence relations of worldly beings among themselves do not coincide with the fundamental ontological relationships. Tentatively, this is to say that even the being present -at-hand of nature as environment. . . first and foremost is revealed and there according to its meaning, from and in the world of concern."

Hubert L. Dreyfus - Between Technē and Technology: The Ambiguous Place of Equipment in Being and Time
Original in Heidegger Circle Proceedings 1982.