The Question
Concerning Technology

In what follows we shall be questioning concerning technology. Questioning builds a way. We would be advised, therefore, above all to pay heed to the way, and not to fix our attention on isolated sentences and topics. The way is a way of thinking. All ways of thinking, more or less perceptibly, lead through language in a manner that is extraordinary. We shall be questioning concerning technology, and in so doing we should like to prepare a free relationship to it. The relationship will be free if it opens our human existence to the essence of technology.1 When we can respond to this essence, we shall be able to experience the technological within its own bounds.

1. "Essence" is the traditional translation of the German noun Wesen. One of Heidegger's principal aims in this essay is to seek the true meaning of essence through or by way of the "correct" meaning. He will later show that Wesen does not simply mean what something is, but that it means, further, the way in which something pursues its course, the way in which it remains through time as what it is. Heidegger writes elsewhere that the noun Wesen does not mean quidditas originally, but rather "enduring as presence" (das Währen als Gegenwart). (See An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Ralph Manheim [New York : Doubleday, 1961], p. 59.) Wesen as a noun derives from the verb wesen, which is seldom used as such in modern German. The verb survives primarily in inflected forms o f the verb sein (to be) and in such words as the adjective anwesend (present). The old verbal forms from which wesen stems meant to tarry or dwell. Heidegger repeatedly identifies wesen as "the same as währen [to last or endure] ." (See p. 30 below and SR 161.) As a verb, wesen will usually be translated here with "to come to presence," a rendering wherein the meaning "endure" should be strongly heard. Occasionally it will be translated "to essence," and its gerund will be rendered with "essencing." The noun Wesen will regularly be translated "essence" until Heidegger's explanatory discussion is reached. Thereafter, in this and the succeeding essays, it will often be translated with "coming to presence." In relation to all these renderings, the reader should bear in mind a point that is of fundamental importance to Heidegger, namely, that the root of wesen, with its meaning "to dwell," provides one integral component in the meaning of the verb sein (to be). (Cf. An Introduction to Metaphysics, p. 59.)