The Question Concerning Technology

This impotence of the sciences is not grounded in the fact that their entrapping securing never comes to an end; it is grounded rather in the fact that in principle the objectness in which at any given time nature, man, history, language, exhibit themselves always itself remains only one kind of presencing, in which indeed that which presences can appear, but never absolutely must appear.

That which is not to be gotten around, as characterized above, holds sway in the essence of every science. Is this, then, the inconspicuous state of affairs that we should like to bring into view? Yes and no. Yes, inasmuch as that which is not to be gotten around belongs to the state of affairs referred to ; no, insofar as what is not to be gotten around, as mentioned above, of itself alone still does not constitute that state of affairs. This is already evident in the fact that what is not to be gotten around still itself occasions a further essential question.

That which is not to be gotten around holds sway in the essence of science. Accordingly, it would have to be expected that science itself could find present within itself that which is not to be gotten around, and could define it as such. But it is precisely this that does not come about, and indeed because anything like it is essentially impossible. What is the basis for our knowing this? If the sciences themselves should at any time be able to find at hand within themselves what is not to be gotten around of which we are speaking, they would have before all else to be in a position to conceive and represent their own essence. But they are never in a position to do this.

Physics as physics can make no assertions about physics. All the assertions of physics speak after the manner of physics. Physics itself is not a possible object of a physical experiment. The same holds for philology. As the theory of language and literature, philology is never a possible object of philological observation. This is equally the case for every science.

Nevertheless, an objection could arise. Historiography, as a science, has a history as do all the rest of the sciences. Thus the science of history is able to observe itself in the sense of applying its own method and thematic procedure to itself.