Heideggers Conceptual Essences: Being And The Nothing, Humanism, And T

echnologyHeideggers Conceptual Essences:
Being and the Nothing, Humanism, and Technology
Being and the Nothing are the same.

The ancient philosopher Lao-tzu believed that the world
entertains no separations and that opposites do not actually
exist. His grounding for this seemingly preposterous proposition
lies in the fact that because alleged opposites depend on one
another and their definitions rely on their differences, they
cannot possibly exist without each other. Therefore, they are
not actually opposites. The simple and uncomplex natured
reasoning behind this outrageous statement is useful when trying
to understand and describe Martin Heideggers deeply leveled
philosophy of Being and the nothing. Lao-tzus uncomplicated
rationale used in stating that supposed opposites create each
other, so cannot be opposite, is not unlike Heideggers
description of the similarity between the opposites Being and the
nothing.
Unlike Lao-tzu, Heidegger does not claim that no opposites
exist. He does however say that two obviously opposite concepts
are the same, and in this way, the two philosophies are similar.
He believes that the separation of beings from Being creates the
nothing between them. Without the nothing, Being would cease to
be. If there were not the nothing, there could not be
anything, because this separation between beings and Being is
necessary.

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Heidegger even goes so far as to say that Being itself
actually becomes the nothing via its essential finity. This
statement implies a synonymity between the relation of life to
death and the relation of Being to nothingness. To Heidegger,
the only end is death. It is completely absolute, so it is a
gateway into the nothing. This proposition makes Being and the
nothing the two halves of the whole. Both of their roles are
equally important and necessary in the cycle of life and death.
Each individual life inevitably ends in death, but without this
death, Life would be allowed no progression: The nothing does
not merely serve as the counterconcept of beings; rather, it
originally belongs to their essential unfolding as such (104).
Likewise, death cannot occur without finite life.
In concordance with the statement that the nothing separates
beings from Being, the idea that death leads to the nothing
implies that death is just the loss of the theoretical sandwich’s
bread slices, leaving nothing for the rest of ever. The
existence of death, therefore, is much more important in the
whole because it magnifies the nothing into virtually
everything. The magnification of the nothing serves as an
equalizer between Being and nothing because Being is so robust
and obvious that it magnifies itself. In this case, the
opposites are completely reliant on each other, not only
conceptually but physically.
Heidegger gives new meaning to Lao-tzus philosophy that
opposites define each other when he tries to uncover the true
essence and meaning of Being, and he reveals another level of
intertwination between the nothing and Being. In order to define
Being, it is mandatory to step outside of it, into the nothing
because:
Everything we talk about, mean, and are
related to in such and such a way is in
Being. What and how we are ourselves are is
also in Being. Being is found in thatness
and whatness, reality, the being at hand of
things [Vorhandenheit], subsistence,
validity, existence [Dasein], and in the
there is [es gibt] (47).
Heidegger is very adamant on the importance of unbiased
judgments and definitions, and how could he possibly calculate
the exact meaning of Being while viewing it from a state of
Being? Thus it is necessary to step out into the nothing to
fully comprehend Being. For this reason, human beings are the
only beings capable of pondering the essence of existence and
nonexistence. Dasein are the only creatures capable because
they are held out into the nothing: Being and the nothing do
belong together . . . because Being itself is essentially finite
and reveals itself only in the transcendence of Dasein which is
held out into the nothing (108).


The highest determinations of the essence of man
in humanism still do not realize the proper dignity of man
(233).

When Heidegger rejects the title humanist, it is not
because he is anti-humanity or even pessimistic about the fate of
the human race. Rather, he rejects the category because he
rightly sees humanism as defined with man at the center, which
is a point of view he very strongly rejects. Perhaps in some
other era, Heidegger could fittingly be called a humanist;
however, he believes that the word humanism … has lost its
meaning (247). The modern connotation of humanism is not
suitable for Heidegger mainly because in relation to the cosmos,
other beings, and even life itself, Heidegger believes that man
is essentially out of control.

Instead of Heideggers philosophy revolving around mankind,
it is centered on the question of Being. Dasein is often the
main character of Heideggers elaboration, but not because he is
the center. Instead, it is because he is the mechanism through
which the nothing and hence the answer to Being can be
discovered:
If the answer to the question of Being thus
becomes the guiding directive for research,
then it is sufficiently given only if the
specific mode of being of previous
ontology–the vicissitudes of its questioning,
its findings, and its failures–becomes
visible as necessary to the very character of
Dasein (62-63).
Because of their trancendence and resulting link to Being and the
nothing, they are the best route to the answer of Being. Even
his focus on Dasein, however, leaves no trace of humanistic
qualities: he doesnt even keep the title human: The analysis
of Dasein thus understood is wholly oriented toward the guiding
task of working out the question of Being (60). When Heidegger
does speak of humanitys goodness, he does not incorporate the
entire species in his statements. Only a percentage of the race is
included in his vision of humanity. This is because he sees
humanity as a goal for mankind. If he were reffering to all of
humanity, wouldnt he just use the word mankind?
Heidegger believes that part of mans essence is the ability
to step out of his essence. This ability he calls ekstaticism,
and it means that there is no question as to whether or not man
is at the center. The answer is no because man is actually
outside of what humanity claims revolves around men. This
transcendence is often unrecognized to the point of causing man
not to understand or fully evaluate his environment, which just
reiterates that he is not in control:
Because man as the one who ek-sists comes to
stand in this relation that Being destines
for itself, in that he … takes it upon
himself, he at first fails to recognize the
nearest and attaches himself to the next
nearest. He even thinks that this is nearest
(235).

Paradoxically, this eksistence characteristic of Dasein, which
gives him the ability to transcend and reach a level of humanity
also can cause inhumane acts. In this way, the possibilities of
eksistence threaten its goals: the inhumanity that mankind is
capable of threaten the very concept of humanity.

If man were at the center, he would be granted control. His
control would be indicated by his initiation, recognition, and
decision. But he is not the beginning or the end, and neither
does he understand them. From the point of view of Heidegger,
control is something men obviously lack. Man is not even in
control of his own existence. He does not decide to be given
life. Being is given to man, but man does not command it; man
occurs essentially in such a way that he is the there … that
is, the clearing of Being (229). Man through thinking takes
over this gift, but does not own it. Man does not even own his
thoughts. Being does not revolve around man. Man is thrown
into his eksistence; Da-sein itself occurs essentially as
thrown (231). Man revolves around Being, and serves as one of
Beings expressions.

Humanity believes that because man is the center, it is his
place to rule over all other life forms on the planet. Heidegger
strongly refutes this notion. He recognizes the elementary
aspect to the logic applied in the claim that because men are
more intelligent than animals, they are better. First of all,
men are not mere animals. They exist differently because of
their ability to step out of their essence and into the nothing.
People and animals are different, so they are not comparable.
The elementary concept that man is an animal better than other
animals implies prejudice against less intellectual persons.

Technologys essence, relationship with man,
and future are at the hands of Being, not humanity.

Heidegger’s views of technology and its relation to ethics
are complicated and difficult, not unlike his views on nearly
everything else. He saw the journey of technology as an
inevitable process that began slowly but quickened via its
vicissitudes. He sees the process as a means to an end.
However, this means to an end is different from most means to
an end because its end is more means, so it inevitably
progresses faster and faster. In other words, the result of
technology is more and more technology in larger and larger
amounts. Also, he believed that its progression is out of our
control.
Technology is inarguably the result of thinking. Heidegger
claims that no thought is original in that the thinker does not
actually conjure it. Rather, the thought reveals itself to the
thinker, even if he is the first person to ever think of it. So,
human beings are not the creators of technology even if they
created it because the thinker only respond[s] to what
address[es] itself to him (323). In this way, technology
existed even before some prehistoric ape scraped some bugs out of
a piece of bark with a twig. This means that there must be some
other cause for technology besides man. Heidegger says,
thinking, propriated by Being, belongs to Being. At the same
time thinking is of Being insofar as thinking, belonging to
Being, listens to Being. As the belonging to Being that listens,
thinking is what it is according to its essential origin (220).
The combonation of these two quotes means that Being actually
created technology with thought as its messenger to humanity.
The handing over of the invention of technology to Being
intensely complicates things. Now finding technologys essence
becomes almost as difficult as finding Beings definition.

Of course, it was necessary for Heidegger to understand the
essence of technology. The importance is due to the fact that
man cannot gain control or understanding of technology without
knowing its essence and attaining a free relationship with it
(311). By free, he means free of bondage, subjectivity, and
slavery. One cannot objectively calculate the implications of
technology while bound to it by lifestyle, opinionated about it,
or reliant on it to the point of slavery. This freedom is
granted by looking at the big picture, way back before technology
in the modern sense existed, even with the apes. This allows one
to view technology with unbiased eyes. Then, the will to
mastery becomes all the more urgent the more tecchnology
threatens to slip from human control (313). The only control
humanity has over technology is in internal will that leads to
understanding of the essence and eventually to mastery.

Technology’s essence has two equal conceptual divisions
which are reliant on each other: (1) technology as instrumental
and as (2) a human activity. Its means that lead to more means
also have two characters: (1) that of revealing and (2) that of
self-creation. Thus, technology is an instrumental human
activity that self-creates its revealing with vicissitude. It cannot be
controlled unless the complexity of these concepts are understood.

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