Synthesis Forum 2

After Monday's class, each member of Team 2 will comment and reflect on any ideas raised, or neglected, in the question, keyword, response and discussion process during the preceding week.

Kian's Synthesis

Our in-class discussion about Heidegger’s “The question concerning technology” really helped deepen my understanding in the concepts and meanings conveyed by the author. I really appreciate Heidegger’s use of Greek and German terms, and his coining of new terms, to ‘get at’ or point to abstract concepts. These concepts seemed to me obscure and incomprehensible at first, but now I have a clearer sense of their meanings and purpose.

From my understanding, Heidegger talks about two paradigms of alēthia (αλήθεια) or “revealing”; the first being Poïesis (ποίησις), which means “bringing-forth” and revealing something that is concealed in an organic sense, and the second being “challenging forth”, which means to unlock things that are in ‘standing reserve’ to be put to use. These two paradigms share a similar concept in that things are being “revealed”, but through a different ‘sense’. Modern technology is a particular way of revealing, and its mode of revealing is not through poiesis, but through “challenging” forth our planet’s resources. “Challenging” causes man into “ordering”, and man ‘orders’ standing reserve. Since technology uses “standing reserve” to achieve an end, it is a means to an end, and this idea emanates from the “instrumental” orientation of technology. Enframing, which is a collective mode or sense of how we understand the world to be, our orientation to the world, is connected to “challenging” because humans live in the mode of “challenging”, and collectively view and understand the world as something to be ordered and placed as “standing reserve” or to be used and exploited. Hence, Heidegger says Enframing is the essence of technology because Enframing is how modern technology reveals itself to us. In other words, through the “frame” of “challenging”, technology is defined and developed.

This essence of technology or its form of revealing to us could close off other possibilities of revealing. Hence we might lose sight of other possibilities of living or understanding the world, and live in the world only according to this technological Enframing. It is important to question whether this 'frame' or mode of living is good enough. We need to consider reorienting ourselves in a different 'frame' because this prevailing 'frame' could be destructive or might not be the best mode for humans to be living in. Heidegger says that we could have a more “artistic poetic” orientation to the world, that we could have modern technology reveal itself through Poïesis and instead of “challenging”. The poet “takes the world ‘as it is’, and as it reveals itself” and does not seek to make the world into a standing reserve. This orientation is the alternative dimension to Enframing.

It is true that humans, who currently are too entrenched in the prevailing framework, cannot easily easily change our current way of Enframing – of the mode of living and treating the world as standing reserve. One very important reason is because we simply are not enlightened about, or do not realize about the problems with the ‘system’ when we are so entrenched in the ‘system’. Another reason is because the system and the institutions that maintain it are resistant to change. Capitalism, anthropocentrism, and the notion that humans can or should dominate nature are what bind humans to this way of Enframing. In questioning the essence of technology, Heidegger’s speech serves a larger purpose – as a ‘wake-up call’ that aims not only to encourage the audience to question their current way of Enframing, but also to present to the audience an alternative paradigm of Enframing, a paradigm that could perhaps bring about a more harmonious relationship between humans, nature and technology.

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