The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics • 53

In respect to science, which concerns us especially here in the university, the situation of the last few decades, a situation which remains unchanged today despite some cleansing, is easy to see. Although two seemingly different conceptions of science are now seemingly struggling against each other—science as technical and practical professional knowledge and science as a cultural value in itself—nevertheless both are moving along the same decadent path of a misinterpretation and disempowering of the spirit. They are distinct only in that the technical and practical conception of science as specialized science may still lay [37|51] claim to the merit of open and clear consistency within today’s situation, whereas the reactionary interpretation of science as a cultural value, which is now again appearing, tries to hide the powerlessness of the spirit through an unconscious mendacity. The confusion of spiritlessness can even go so far that the practical, technical explanation of science confesses itself at the same time to be science as cultural value, so that both understand each other very well in the same dearth of spirit. One may wish to call the arrangement of the amalgam of the specialized sciences for purposes of teaching and research a university, but this is now just a name, and no longer an originally unifying spiritual power that imposes duties. What I said here in my inaugural address in 1929 about the German university still applies today: “The regions of science lie far asunder. Their ways of handling their subject matters are fundamentally different. This disintegrated multiplicity of disciplines is still meaningfully maintained35 today only through the technical organization of universities and faculties and through the practical aims of the disciplines. Yet the rootedness of the sciences in their essential ground has atrophied” (What Is Metaphysics? 1929, p. 8).36

35. Heidegger misquotes himself slightly. The original gehalten appears here as erhalten, with little change in meaning.

36. “Was ist Metaphysik?,” in Wegmarken (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1978), 104. Cf. “What is Metaphysics?” in Pathmarks, 82–83.

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