Heidegger’s Deconstruction of technology
The consumption and use of modern mass media establishes a significant relationship between humanity and technology. Basically, it is the ontological essence of information or mediated messages, which anticipates the inherent problems that lie in the relationship of humanity with technology. It was famous German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who in his famous essay “The Questions Concerning Technology” (1977) accentuated the inherent problems in the relationship between humanity and the essence and nature of technology. The central theme of the essay was concerning human subordination to technology. For Martin Heidegger, humanity has submitted itself to technology by becoming merely the passive consumer of ideologies and products mediated by the creators of technology and media. Hence, it is the message and medium of messages and the creator and created, which establishes the complex relationship between humanity and technology.
In his famous essay “The Questions Concerning Technology” Martin Heidegger states that in order to grasp the essence of technology, a free link with it must be established first. According to Martin Heidegger, the actual meaning of the term ‘technology’ refers to the mode of revealing, which is composed of two parts: ‘technie’ and ‘poiesis’. Whereas, the term technie refers to the work of craft man and poiesis refers to the process of taking it forth. Hence, in Heidegger’s view, humanity does not understand the true meaning of technology due to a lack of knowledge about its essence and nature. Moreover, it is the distorted patterns of the relationship between humanity and technology, which allows the capitalists to exploits the masses. As Heidegger said, modern technology is means to an end, which has forced humanity to become the servants of technology. In this respect, to explain the complex nature of the relationship between humanity and technology, Martin Heidegger uses two important concepts.
First, the concept of enframing, which Heidegger employs to describe the relationship between nature and man. Basically, the process of enframing allows man to structure nature and shape human relationships through mediated messages to increase financial wealth. For Heidegger, since the emergence of technology, humanity was compelled to serve the capitalistic purpose by employing the exact physical science. To elaborate on the concept of enframing, Heidegger cites the example of peasant and coal mining. For Heidegger, the peasant, who works on the land and takes care of it does not force it to produce that is why there is a harmonious relationship between peasant and the land.
However, in the case of Coal mining by using mechanized tools, the man destroys the land to produce the maximum yield. Hence, for Heidegger, in coal mining, a man coerces and challenges the forces of nature to produce the maximum financial wealth, which establishes the distorted relationship between man and nature due to technological enframing. Second, the concept of the standing reserve, which refers to the resources that are stockpiled for use and consumption. Hence, from the standpoint of technology, every production is a standing reserve, what Heidegger says, “Everything is ordered to stand by, to be immediately at hand”. To elaborate the concept of the standing reserve, Heidegger cites the example of a dam built on the river Rhine, which is a standing reserve for hydroelectricity but at the time, it is a peril to surrounding areas and the river itself.
In contrast, Heidegger’s views on technology are skeptic based on which he raises the question concerning the relationship of humanity with technology. In this regard, for Heidegger, humanity can liberate themselves from the slavery of technology by understanding the essence and nature of technology. Finally, it is by only establishing a relationship with the true meaning of technology, humanity can evade from being a servant of machines.