is. The whole complex of these contrivances is technology. Technology itself is a contrivance, or, in Latin, an instrumentum.3
The current conception of technology, according to which it is a means and a human activity, can therefore be called the instrumental and anthropological definition of technology.
Who would ever deny that it is correct? It is in obvious conformity with what we are envisioning when we talk about technology. The instrumental definition of technology is indeed so uncannily correct that it even holds for modern technology, of which, in other respects, we maintain with some justification that it is, in contrast to the older handwork technology, something completely different and therefore new. Even the power plant with its turbines and generators is a man-made means to an end established by man. Even the jet aircraft and the high-frequency apparatus are means to ends. A radar station is of course less simple than a weather vane. To be sure, the construction of a high-frequency apparatus requires the interlocking of various processes of technical-industrial production. And certainly a sawmill in a secluded valley of the Black Forest is a primitive means compared with the hydroelectric plant in the Rhine River.
But this much remains correct : modern technology too is a means to an end. That is why the instrumental conception of technology conditions every attempt to bring man into the right relation to technology. Everything depends on our manipulating technology in the proper manner as a means. We will, as we say, "get" technology "spiritually in hand." We will master it. The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.
But suppose now that technology were no mere means, how would it stand with the will to master it? Yet we said, did we
3. Instrumentum signifies that which functions to heap or build up or to arrange. Heidegger here equates it with the noun Einrichtung, translated "contrivance," which can also mean arrangement, adjustment, furnishing, or equipment. In accordance with his dictum that the true must be sought by way of the correct, Heidegger here anticipates with his identification of technology as an instrumentum and an Einrichtung his later "true" characterization of technology in terms of setting-in-place, ordering, Enframing, and standing-reserve.