The Enframing of Technology

Last week’s blog post we took a deeper look at “The Question Concerning Technology” by Heidegger, and we briefly touched upon this concept of “enframing” that Heidegger mentions so much. If you forgot, here is the link to that blog entry: http://benjisburner.com/charles-jessup-phil-231h/picking-up-where-we-left-off/ – go ahead, give it another read even if you did last week. I’ll wait, I have nothing but time.

Get it? Got it? Good, alright let us get into it and get some vocabulary straight for today’s purposes.

Last week we talked about how enframing was this challenge, this “destining”, and also how technology can also be a way of thinking rather than being just mere instruments we can hold. Heidegger also talks about a “standing reserve”, a way of looking at things through a technological lens. To make it easier, you can think of seeing things as a “standing reserve” is like seeing things as nothing more than parts and pieces ready to be assembled or disassembled. Or, in the words of the man himself, “The word expresses here something more, and some­ thing more essential, than mere “stock.” The name “standing­ reserve” assumes the rank of an inclusive rubric. It designates nothing less than the way in which everything presences that is wrought upon by the challenging revealing. Whatever stands by in the sense of standing-reserve no longer stands over against us as object.” (Heidegger 17).

With these definitions in mind, we can now discuss the issue at hand. The enframing of technology, the destining of technology, leads us to see as everything other than ourselves as mere-standing reserve. We see materials, plants, animals, even other humans as nothing more than resources ready to be rearranged, arranged, and disposed of. Under this technological lens, everything other than ourselves loses identity and other purpose. In doing such, we believe we only ever truly encounter ourselves, as we are “lords of the earth”, or in Heidegger’s words, “Meanwhile man, pre­ cisely as the one so threatened, exalts himself to the posture of lord of the earth.” (Heidegger 27). It is the final delusion, that makes it seem no matter where he looks man will only and always encounter himself (Heidegger 27.)

However, it is not that simple. You really thought it would be that easy? Not even close there bud. We said before that enframing is a sort of a challenge, and how this technological way of thinking sets everything other than ourselves as mere standing-reserve, furthering our complex of assuming we are indeed lords of the earth. This illusion gives rise to the delusion that we only ever encounter ourselves. However, because of this “lord of the earth” complex we have, Heidegger states that we deny the claim of the enframing. We do not answer the challenge, the destining, and fail to see ourselves as spoken to. As a result, humanity “fails in every way to hear in what respect he ek-sists, from out of his essence, in the realm of an exhortation or address, and thus can never encounter only himself.” (Heidegger 27).

It is dangerous business, as the enframing brought by technology does not just put in danger how man sees the world, but how man sees himself. This however, is not the worst of it. According to Heidegger this banishes man to a revealing that is ordering, and while this ordering holds power, no other form of revealing is possible (Heidegger 27).

I will not tell you how to think. I merely put into more readable English the ideas of Martin Heidegger. What you do with it is on you. But alas, all good things must come to an end. So here is where we stop. Stay safe, and I will see you next week.

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