Heidegger's question concerning technology?: origins of State (Descartes: Derrida)?)

Did some aspects of philosophy and politics cause you to better understand politics?

  • What did you like about this essay?

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • What did you hate about it?

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • will you do more research since you read it?

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters

Jeffrey Neuzil

Well-Known Member
Nov 30, 2007
Dedicated to Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger: Paths of Philosophy Gone—but not forgotten

That eternity may know that we have not allowed things to pass silently as in a dream—Richard Hooker.

The only problem with philosophy is that there was only one philosopher —F. Nietzsche

When Future generations write the History of our epoch[e], they will conclude that it was not the appalling clamour of the beyond good and evil that is condemnable, but the appalling silence of the Platonic Good—a civil servant.

Euclidean Origin and Technology: German Idealism and Political Philosophy,
Orwell's Bastard Legacy


The general thesis that I will put forward here will have as its main contention that modern political philosophy is grounded in technology, and that this grounding represents the highest achievement of Classical German Idealism. One could rightly ask why I have chosen to address a topic so, apparently, exhaustively treated in the literature: Can one find perfectly good books on, say, Hegel or Kant, or Nietzsche or Heiddegger?
The answer is obviously yes, but those books, in my opinion, (with the exception of the "toweringly" superior work by Beiser: See his fine study "Fate of Reason") tend to treat the period in question rather atomistically and disconectedly rather than trying to show the unity of the line of thought stretching from, say, Kant to Nietzsche and Heidegger. Moreover, it will be a central contention of this book that what has heretofore been seen as a rigid, even mutually exclusive, distinction between modern political philosophy and metaphysics or science and ancient political philosophy and metaphysics is illusory.
My reflections on this problem began when I was a student of philosophy and political science at Northern Illinois University and reading the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, in particular his "Critique of Pure Reason." The so called "first critique"—there were ultimately three of them—left is reader puzzled, perplexed and alienated, for his work created, it then seemed to me, an unbridgeable gulf between the world of perceived experience, what Kant called the "phenomenal" world and the world as it is in and of itself, what he called the "noumenal" world, or the thing-in-itself.
According to Kant, one could simply not know the world as it was in itself, and this, because our mind was so constituted that it could only construct, using what he called the "catagories" of the mind and "image" of the world, and this was forever destined to be just that an image: something like the images projected on the wall of Plato's cave in his philosophical masterwork, one of the greatest works of thought in the Occidental philosophical tradition, "The Republic."
Kant's successors were not satisfied with the state in which Kant's philosophy left them, for they lusted for massive certainty, and because of this, in one way or another, with greater success or lessor, they sought quite reasonably to overcome Kant's formulation of the problem. All of the attempts it seems were doomed to failure, and, moreover, had they succeeded they would have destroyed Kant's intention which was to make the world safe for reason and philosophy, not to mention religion, by showing that the bounds of reason require on a practical level if not also on a theoretical level that man be able to see his life as the free moral creation of his will.
Kant was, therefore, very concerned to show, using the tools of theoretical reason, that man cannot jump over the moon—there are certain absolute limits to what he can "know," and if those bounds are violated the result is "empty speculation," not well grounded philosophy. Having said this, Kant's successors did not heed his warning, and they therefore ventured into exactly the territory that he marked out of bounds. Since their efforts to overcome Kant have been so Promethean—nowhere more apparently so than in the case of Hegel and his less cautious progeny and epigoni—it seems that they at least deserve a hearing in the marketplace for the vision that they attempt to realize is surely of world-historical significance.
The central problem I want to address is how Kantian philosophy relates to the tradition stretching all the way back to antiquity, in particular to the philosophy of both Parmenides and Hera(>clit<)us, and how this tradition was taken up and transformed by the rationalist thinkers in modernity, starting with Spinoza and Descartes and finally reaching its highest development in Kant, Leibnitz, Salmon Maimon, and, ultimately, in Nietzsche and Heidegger. Moreover, I would like to treat a "problem" that has heretofore in my view received only scant attention (possibly for political reasons), namely what is the relationship of classical German Idealism to Technology. Most residents of modernity today realize that they are all caught up, as it were, in a "web" of technology, but few of us, for very good, if obscure, reasons rise to the level of making thematic the question of how and in what way has this come to be so—and what is the trajectory of our society given this fact: In other words what effect, short term and long, will this have on our delicate, gossamer, social fabric? Heidegger and Nietzsche faced up to this question and even in a certain sense forced it upon us; their doing so was not accidental; it rather intended to make us see how nihilistic and destructive of society technology is and how, so long as we turn to it for solutions, that predicament would only worsen.
However it is inadaquate to suggest that Heidegger and Nietzsche viewed technology in the same way, although they may have in the end: Yet there is at least an apparent difference in their respective positions; if my own analysis is sound, then Nietzsche is much more sympathetic towards technology, for he sees it as a way of allowing for, indeed founding, the realization of the will-to-power as eternal return, a concept not unrelated, if my analysis is correct to Heidegger's concept of "repetition." Yet, while Nietzsche embraces technology and, I feel certain, sees it as essential to the production of the "higher men" and the "superman,"—realized through eugenics in a tradition starting with Plato stretching to Maimonides and culminating in early Heidegger—Martin Heidegger seeks to confront technology and its domination of Western man through a re-oriented neo-National Socialist movement of the future.
It is clear that technology, according to Heidegger, is both the highest expression of modern philosophy, which comes to sight for the first time in the thought of Nietzsche, but it is there called "metaphysics," so one is invited—indeed forced to ask:—what is the relationship between metaphysics and technology? Furthermore it is not altogether clear what the distinction is between Nietzsche's metaphysical or technological thinking and that of Heidegger, and I am sure, at this stage of my work, I do not know what that is: But it is clearly the core of the thought of both thinkers, and it seems to me, to make a provisional suggestion that they ultimately want to do something very different with respect to it.
A deeper analysis of this problem would attempt to show how an intimate realtionship exists between Leibnitz's monadological philosophy and the calculus he co-invented, and how these two concepts viewed at a deeper level gave birth to the modern philosophical analysis of many worlds analysis or modal logic (a science of which W. V. O Quine infamously quipped, "Modal logic was born in sin") and how, at a deeper level, this is related to the "Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics produced in the 1950s by Hugh Everett; further it would attempt to show how using these critical tools one could attack, if not solve, the problem of approaching asymptotically the knowledge of Kant's "ding an sich" or the "thing-in-itself."
Moreover, it would be the ambition of the work—not realizable, of course—to suggest how viewing Hugh Everett's work in this light provides the basis for better understanding the meaning of the timeless "form" in which Parmenides—and Plato after him—viewed the world in antiquity.
Provisionally, I suggest that, just as Karl Marx sought to appropriate technology in order to overcome the problem of alienation for man writ large, Nietzsche and Heiddegger, would similarly appropriate the power technology confers on man for quite different purposes—no less liberating in the end. This is quite a long story, and I doubt it will ever be told, because it is not well understood—even and especially by me: But that should not inhibit us from trying to at least give an outline (in chalk) of a way of looking at the problem, which we must come face-to-face with if we are to understand much of significance about the modern world. Better and more competent minds may someday be able to tell this story: for now it must remain enveloped in a dark cloud of "unknowing."

That eternity may know that we have allowed things to pass silently as in a dream—Richard Hooker.

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods—they Kill us for their sport—King Lear