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literature, which you could—or might be compelled to—see as part of this nihilism.

H: I would like to say that the literature I had in mind is not nihilistic in the sense that I have given to that word. (Cf. Nietzsche II, 335ff.)

S: Obviously, you see a world movement—and you have expressed as much —that either is bringing about the absolute technological state, or has done so already?

H: Yes! But the technological state corresponds precisely in the least degree to the world and society determined by the essence of technology. The technological state would be the most submissive and blind bailiff over against the power of technology.

S: Fine. Then the question arises, of course: Can the individual still even influence this web of inevitabilities? Or can philosophy influence it, or can both together influence it, with philosophy guiding the individual or several individuals to a specific action?

H: With these questions, you return to the beginning of our conversation. If I may answer briefly and perhaps somewhat gravely, but after long reflection: Philosophy will not be able to effect any immediate transformation of the present condition of the world. This is not only true of philosophy, but of all human reflection and striving. Only a god can still save us. 1 see the only possibility of salvation in the process of preparing a readiness, through thinking and poetizing, for the appearance of the god or for the absence of the god in the decline. We will not “croak,” to put it bluntly, but rather, if we go under, we will do so face-to-face with an absent god.

S: Is there a connection between your thinking and the emergence of this god? Is there, on your view, a causal relation here? Do you think that we can think god into presence?

[672] H: We cannot think him into presence; at most, we can prepare the readiness of awaiting.

S: But can we help?

H: The preparation of the readiness would be the first help. The world cannot be what and how it is through humans, but also not without humans. This is connected, in my opinion, with the fact that “Being”—what I have named with this longstanding, traditional, multifaceted, and now worn-out word— needs humans, that Being cannot be Being without needing humans for its revelation, preservation, and formation. 1 see the essence of technology in what I call the Ge-Stell. The name, which is at first easily misunderstood, when thought correctly points back into that innermost history of metaphysics that still determines our Dasein. The Ge-Stell holding-sway means: Humans are beset [gestellt], claimed, and challenged by a power that manifests itself in the essence of technology. It is precisely in humans’ experience of being forcibly beset [Gestelltseins]


Martin Heidegger - Heidegger Reader