primarily, "view of life." The fact that, nonetheless, "world view" has asserted itself as the name for the position of man in the midst of beings proves how decisively the world becomes picture as soon as man makes his life as subject the primary center of reference. This means: the being counts as in being only to the degree and extent that it is taken into, and referred back to, this life, i.e., is lived out [er-lebt], and becomes life-experience [Er-lebnis]. As every humanism had to remain something unsuited to Greece, so a "medieval world view" was an impossibility; and a "Catholic world view" is an absurdity. Just as, for modern man, the more unbounded the way in which he takes charge of the shaping of his essence, everything must, by both necessity and right, become "experience," just as certainly, the Greeks at the Olympic festivals could never have had "experiences."

The fundamental event of modernity is the conquest of the world as picture. From now on the word "picture" means: the collective image of representing production [das Gebild des vorstellenden Herstellens]. Within this, man fights for the position in which he can be that being who gives to every being the measure and draws up the guidelines. Because this position secures, organizes, and articulates itself as world view, the decisive unfolding of the modern relationship to beings becomes a confrontation of world views; not, indeed, any old set of world views, but only those which have already taken hold of man's most fundamental stance with the utmost decisiveness. For the sake of this battle of world views, and according to its meaning, humanity sets in motion, with respect to everything, the unlimited process of calculation, planning, and breeding. Science as research is the indispensable form taken by this self-establishment in the world; it is one of the pathways along which, with a speed unrecognized by those who are involved, modernity races towards the fulfillment of its essence. With this battle of world views modernity first enters the decisive period of its history, and probably the one most capable of enduring (Appendix 11).

A sign of this event is the appearance everywhere, and in the most varied forms and disguises, of the gigantic. At the same time, the huge announces itself in the direction of the ever smaller. We have only to think of the numbers of atomic physics. The gigantic presses forward in a form which seems to make it disappear: in destruction of great distances by the airplane, in the representations of foreign and remote worlds in their everydayness produced at will by the flick of a switch. One thinks too superficially, however, if one takes the gigantic to be merely an endlessly extended emptiness of the purely quantitative. One thinks too briefly if one finds the gigantic,


Off the Beaten Track (GA 5) by Martin Heidegger