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The Question Concerning Technology

it mean the general concept of such resources. The machines and apparatus are no more cases and kinds of enframing than are the man at the switchboard and the engineer in the drafting room. Each of these in its own way indeed belongs as stockpart, available resource, or executor, within enframing; but enframing is never the essence of technology in the sense of a genus. Enframing is a way of revealing that is a destining, namely, the way that challenges forth. The revealing that brings forth (ποίησις) is also a way that has the character of destining. But these ways are not kinds that, arrayed beside one another, fall under the concept of revealing. Revealing is that destining which, ever suddenly and inexplicably to all thinking, apportions itself into the revealing that brings forth and the revealing that challenges, and which allots itself to man. The revealing that challenges has its origin as a destining in bringing- forth. But at the same time enframing, in a way characteristic of a destining, blocks ποίησις.

Thus enframing, as a destining of revealing, is indeed the essence of technology, but never in the sense of genus and essentia. If we pay heed to this, something astounding strikes us: it is technology itself that makes the demand on us to think in another way what is usually understood by "essence." But in what way?

If we speak of the "essence of a house" and the "essence of a state" we do not mean a generic type; rather we mean the ways in which house and state hold sway, administer themselves, develop, and decay—the way they "essentially unfold" [wesen]. Johann Peter Hebel in a poem, "Ghost on Kanderer Street," for which Goethe had a special fondness, uses the old word die Weserei. It means the city hall, inasmuch as there the life of the community gathers and village existence is constantly in play, i.e., essentially unfolds. It is from the verb wesen that the noun is derived. Wesen understood as a verb is the same as währen [to last or endure], not only in terms of meaning, but also in terms of the phonetic formation of the word. Socrates and Plato already think the essence of something as what it is that unfolds essentially, in the sense of what endures. But they think what endures is what remains permanently (ἀεί ὄν).


Martin Heidegger (GA 7) The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking - Basic Writings (1993)