when it could be supported by exact physical science. Reckoned chronologically, this is correct. Thought historically, it does not hit upon the truth.
The modern physical theory of nature prepares the way first not simply for technology but for the essence of modern technology. For already in physics the challenging gathering-together into ordering revealing holds sway. But in it that gathering does not yet come expressly to appearance. Modern physics is the herald of Enframing, a herald whose origin is still unknown. The essence of modern technology has for a long time been concealing itself, even where power machinery has been invented, where electrical technology is in full swing, and where atomic technology is well under way.
All coming to presence, not only modern technology, keeps itself everywhere concealed to the last.19 Nevertheless, it remains, with respect to its holding sway, that which precedes all : the earliest. The Greek thinkers already knew of this when they said: That which is earlier with regard to the arising that holds sway becomes manifest to us men only later. That which is primally early shows itself only ultimately to men.20 Therefore, in the realm of thinking, a painstaking effort to think through still more primally what was primally thought is not the absurd wish to revive what is past, but rather the sober readiness to be astounded before the coming of what is early.
Chronologically speaking, modern physical science begins in the seventeenth century. In contrast, machine-power technology develops only in the second half of the eighteenth century. But modern technology, which for chronological reckoning is the later, is, from the point of view of the essence holding sway within it, the historically earlier.
19. "Coming to presence" here translates the gerund Wesende, a verbal form that appears, in this volume, only in this essay. With the introduction into the discussion of "coming to presence" as an alternate translation of the noun Wesen (essence), subsequent to Heidegger's consideration of the meaning of essence below (pp. 30 ff.), occasionally the presence of das Wesende is regrettably but unavoidably obscured.
20. "That which is primally early" translates die anfängliche Frühe. For a discussion of that which "is to all present and absent beings . . . the earliest and most ancient at once"—i.e., Ereignen, das Ereignis—see "The Way to Language" in On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), p. 127.