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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: July 2009

2 - Understanding Ontotheology as the Basis for Heidegger's Critique of Technology

Summary

INTRODUCTION: FROM ONTOTHEOLOGY TO TECHNOLOGY

In Chapter 1, in our reconstructions of Heidegger's understanding of metaphysics as ontotheology (§1) and of ontotheology as the substructural scaffolding of historical intelligibility (§2), it became clear that Heidegger holds Nietzsche's “unthought” metaphysics responsible for our nihilistic “technological” understanding of the being of entities and its devastating historical consequences. Two crucial details of Heidegger's reading merit particular emphasis in this regard: First, that Nietzsche understands the being of entities ontotheologically, as eternally recurring will-to-power (that is, in short, as sheer “will-to-will”), forces coming together and breaking apart with no end other than the self-augmentation by which these underlying forces perpetuate themselves. Second, that it is precisely this ontologically reductive understanding of the being of entities that encourages us late moderns implicitly to understand, and so generally to treat, all the entities with which we deal, ourselves included, as intrinsically meaningless Bestand, mere “resources” standing by to be optimized, ordered, and enhanced with maximal efficiency. We will return to explore these details of Heidegger's view shortly, but it should be clear from this outline that Heidegger's critique of our contemporary age of “enframing” follows directly from his particular understanding of metaphysics as ontotheology. Amazingly, this basic hermeneutic connection has never adequately been recognized and taken into account, although Heidegger's “critique of technology” is one of the most widely discussed aspects of his later thought.

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