THE AGE OF THE WORLD PICTURE


the university is that it is an establishment which still, in a unique way, on account of its administratively self-contained form, makes possible and visible both the fragmentation of the sciences into the specialities and the peculiar unity of constant activity. Because it is in constant activity that the essential forces of modern science become immediately and unambiguously effective, it is only self-directed research activities which, proceeding from themselves, can prefigure and establish an inner unity with other appropriate research activities.

The real system of science consists in the coherence of procedure and stance with respect to the objectification of beings, in conformity, at any given time, with planning. The advantage this system is required to promote is no contrived and rigid unification of the contents of the object domains. Rather, it is the greatest possible free, though regulated, flexibility in the changing around and initiation of research with respect to whatever are the principle tasks of the moment. The more exclusively a science becomes focused on the complete carrying out and mastery of its process of working, the more these activities are — without illusion — shifted into research institutes and professional schools for research, then the more irresistibly do the sciences achieve the completion of their modern essence. The more unconditionally, however, science and research take seriously the modern shape of their essence, the more unequivocally and immediately are they themselves able to stand ready to serve the common good; and the more unreservedly, too, will they have to withdraw into the public anonymity of all socially useful work.

Modern science simultaneously founds and differentiates itself in the projection of particular object domains. These projections are developed by the appropriate methodologies which are made secure by means of rigor. Method establishes itself at any given time in constant activity. Projection and rigor, method and constant activity, each demanding the other, make up the essence of modern science, make it into research.

We are reflecting on the essence of modern science in order to discover its metaphysical ground. What understanding of beings and what concept of truth is it that underlies the transformation of science into research?

Knowledge as research calls beings to account with regard to the way in which, and the extent to which, they can be placed at the disposal of representation. Research has beings at its disposal when it can, through calculation, either predict their future or retrodict their past. In the prediction of nature and retrodiction of history, nature and history are set in place in the same way. They become objects of explanatory representation. Such


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Off the Beaten Track (GA 5) by Martin Heidegger