What would be the relevance of Martin Heidegger's notion of the Question Concerning Technology to
Oswald Jünger's idea of Technology?
I take it you mean Ernst Jünger not Oswald. Jünger had published a treatise in 1932
entitled The Worker. This was a follow on from his 1930 publication Total Mobilization. These were
typically politically correct works in a Germany veering toward Nazism. Heidegger, not a philosopher
renowned for his political smartness, read Jünger against the background of his massive and
historic interpretation of Nietzsche. Jünger was a man of his time, while Heidegger was (in a
phrase of Nietzsche) an untimely philosopher. Heidegger's explanations tend to be more brilliant than
that which he is explaining. This is true of Nietzsche and is even truer of Jünger, who has no
legacy as a thinker that I am aware of, except by courtesy of Heidegger. Heidegger was only on a par
with great thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Leibniz, Kant and Hegel.
Heidegger's idea of technology issues from his Seinsfrage(question of Being). 'Being' here is a
question of being-as-such and as a whole. Not this or that being but the being of beings, their
'is-ness'. The question of technology is a question of the 'destiny of Being'. For Heidegger, the rise of
technology (whence the question) means that man as a collective entity is behaving in a mimetic
fashion. Man is imitating Being itself. What is essential to Being-as-such and as a whole is its quality
of pervasiveness and overpoweringness. Everything partakes of Being. Not just every entity but every
idea 'is'. Everything imaginable is in some way or other. Being overpowers beings. Technology is a
mimesis of this, for it is man's attempt to overpower all beings. Technology is the name under which
this usurpation of Being by beings is attempted. Heidegger's so-called 'pessimism' stems from the
understanding that this overpowering of the Being of beings by man can never succeed. It is a
deluded but grandiose attempt that must fall flat on its face in the end because man has not
understood the Seinsfrageto begin with; essentially, the question of himself. Such understanding is
the job of philosophy alone and above all. Unfortunately, technology as a will to power has cut itself
off from philosophy.
Heidegger speculates that because technology (reduced to the essence of what it really is) does not
will Being-as-such and as a whole, but wills to usurp Being with its own commanding power, it is
nihilistic. Not to will Being is to will nothing. Technology reveals the nihilism of modern man and
culture. Heidegger thought Jünger a kindred spirit with regard to this kind of thinking of Being
Heidegger is probably wrong (which philosopher isn't?) but those pages on the Rhine in his essay on
technology are fabulous. Trying to explain the meaning of Heidegger is like trying to explain the
meaning of a poem, the explanation always says much less than is shown by the original.
Matthew Del Nevo