stellen as the root of technological activity as such and names the collection of these settings or posings “positionality” (Ge-stell).17 In this lineage, then, the solitary dominance of vorstellen for the epoch of modern science gives way to a proliferation of settings and positionings at the end of metaphysics in the age of technology. Signal among this constellation around stellen are: bestellen (to order, to requisition), zustellen (to deliver), nachstellen (to pursue), herstellen (to produce), darstellen (to present), feststellen (to fix in place), and verstellen (to disguise).

Heidegger’s usage of the term “positionality” is, of course, unique. As he says in “The Question Concerning Technology,” his 1953 report to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, a text that is something of a revised, redacted, and recontextualized extract from the Bremen lectures of four years prior, “we hazard to use this word [“positionality”] in a completely unusual sense” (GA 7: 20/QCT 19, tm). As for the customary use of the term, “according to its usual meaning, the word ‘Gestell’ means a device, for example, a bookcase” (GA 7: 20/QCT 20, tm). But Heidegger will not think positionality in these terms. The lecture “Positionality,” where the name was first announced, explains, “the word now no longer names an individual object of the sort like a bookcase [Büchergestells] or a water well” (GA 79: 32/31). A marginal note to the text here continues, “still sharper contrast with installation [Montage], rod and piston assemblies [Gestänge und Geschiebe]; skeleton [Gerippe]” (GA 79: 32 n. j/31 n. 10). In the 1956 appendix to “The Origin of the Work of Art,” Heidegger explains that the term positionality is thought from out of an historical connection with the Ancient Greeks, and explicitly “not from bookcase [Büchergestell] or installation [Montage]” (GA 5: 72/54). The conclusion to the third lecture of Insight Into That Which Is, “The Danger,” is definitive on the point: “The word positionality names the essence of technology. Technology does not essence in the manner of a requisitioning and pursuing [Bestellens und Nachstellens] due to the technological process of building and using an apparatus, something that still appears to us as a ‘framework’ [Gestelle] in the sense of scaffolding and equipment” (GA 79: 65/61).

Positionality is thus explicitly distinguished from all manner of framing (or “enframing” as the term has previously been translated). We cannot think positionality as some kind of framework or scaffolding thrown over the world. To do so is to persist in the belief that this incursion of the technological would be something that came to us from the outside, that it would remain somehow extrinsic to all that is and would only ever approach this from without, covering over all that is and obscuring it, but leaving our existence ultimately untouched. It is to believe, for example, that nature would still exist outside of technology, even if only as the source from which it draws its materials (an idea that Heidegger

17 See GA 79: 32/3031, 65/61; GA 7: 20/QCT 19; GA 15: 388/FS 74, among others. The word is built like Gemut or Gebirge. Cf. the notes entitled “The Essence of Technology,” where one reads “Positionality [Gestell] (like baying [Gebell], a barking [bellen] concentrated in itself)” (GA 76: 365).

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