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Science and Reflection

However, the way in which in the most recent phase of atomic physics even the object vanishes also, and the way in which, above all, the subject-object relation as pure relation thus takes precedence over the object and the subject, to become secured as standing-reserve, cannot be more precisely discussed in this place.

(Objectness changes into the constancy of the standing-reserve, a constancy determined from out of Enframing. [See "The Question Concerning Technology."] The subject-object relation thus reaches, for the first time, its pure "relational," i.e., ordering, character in which both the subject and the object are sucked up as standing-reserves. That does not mean that the subject-object relation vanishes, but rather the opposite : it now attains to its most extreme dominance, which is predetermined from out of Enframing. It becomes a standing-reserve to be commanded and set in order.)27

We are now considering the inconspicuous state of affairs that lies in the holding-sway of objectness.

Theory identifies the real—in the case of physics, inanimate nature—and fixes it into one object-area. However, nature is always presencing of itself. Objectification, for its part, is directed toward nature as thus presencing. Even where, as in modern atomic physics, theory—for essential reasons—necessarily becomes the opposite of direct viewing, its aim is to make atoms exhibit themselves for sensory perception, even if this self-exhibiting of elementary particles happens only very indirectly and in a way that technically involves a multiplicity of intermediaries. (Compare the Wilson cloud chamber, the Geiger counter, the free balloon flights to confirm and identify mesons.) Theory never outstrips nature—nature that is already presencing—and in this sense theory never makes its way around nature. Physics may well represent the most general and pervasive lawfulness of nature in terms of the identity of matter and energy; and what is represented by physics is indeed nature itself, but undeniably it is only nature as the object-area, whose objectness is first defined and determined through the refining that is characteristic of physics and is expressly set forth in that refining.


27. For this paragraph Heidegger uses brackets. The reference to QT is his.