Science and Reflection

To strive after something means : to work one's way toward something, to pursue it, to entrap it in order to secure it. Accordingly, theory as observation [Betrachtung] would be an entrapping and securing refining of the real. But this characterization of science would obviously have to run counter to science's essence. For after alt science as theory is surely "theoretical." It spurns any refining of the real. It stakes everything on grasping the real purely. It does not encroach upon the real in order to change it. Pure science, we proclaim, is "disinterested."

And yet modern science as theory in the sense of an observing that strives after is a refining of the real that does encroach uncannily upon it. Precisely through this refining it corresponds to a fundamental characteristic of the real itself. The real is what presences as self-exhibiting.20 But what presences shows itself in the modern age in such a way as to bring its presencing to a stand in objectness. Science corresponds to this holding-sway of presencing in terms of objects, inasmuch as it for its part, as theory, challenges forth the real specifically through aiming its objectness.21 Science sets upon the real.22 It orders it into place to the end that at any given time the real will exhibit itself as an interacting network,23 i.e., in surveyable series of related causes.

20. das sich herausstellende Anwesende.

21. "Challenges forth" translates herausfordern (literally, demands out hither). The structural parallel between the verbs herausfordern and herausstellen bespeaks the correspondence between the refining of the real wrought by science as an executing and the real's "working" of itself.

22. "Sets upon" translates stellen. On the meaning of this verb, QT 15 n. 14. The use of herausstellen to characterize the manner in which the real exhibits and sets itself forth in the modern age has already been noted (p. 161, n. 10) . A variety of stellen verbs follow here in this discussion of the conduct of modern science as theory : nachstellen (to entrap), sicherstellen (to make secure), bestellen (to order or command), feststellen (to fix or establish), vorstellen (to represent), umstellen (to encompass), erstellen (to set forth), beistellen (to place in association with).

23. "Interacting network" translates Ge-wirk. In isolating the prefix ge- in the ordinary noun Gewirk (web, texture, weaving), Heidegger would have us hear, in accordance with his foregoing discussion, the more fundamental meaning of a gathering of that which works and is worked. Cf. the discussion of ge-, QT 19.

Martin Heidegger (GA 7) The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays