Monday, August 4, 2008

Hypermodernity and the Rule of Technology - Part III

The hyperextended domain of technology: first into nature, then into human beingsIn opposition to the above definition of technology, one can argue that the Greeks really only use techne to refer to the techniques of the handicraftsman; that it cannot hold true to describe modern machine technology, or the technical autonomy of iPhones or nano-robots. (It is precisely this objection that causes us to pause and question “technology.”)The revealing that rules in modern technology is a challenging, which puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such.Does this not hold true for the old windmill as well? No: its sails do indeed turn in the wind; they are left entirely to the wind’s blowing. But the windmill does not unlock energy from the air currents in order to store it.In contrast, a tract of land is challenged in the hauling out of coal and ore. The earth now reveals itself as a “coal-mining district,” the soil as a “mineral deposit.”Long ago even the cultivation of a field has come under the grip of technology. Agriculture is now the mechanized food industry. Air is now “set upon” to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium, for example; uranium is set upon to yield atomic energy, which can be unleashed for purposes that can be either completely destructive, or peaceful.This tendency of technology to “set upon” nature challenges the energy of nature, expedites it. Such a challenging happens in that the energy concealed in nature is “unlocked” – then transformed – then stored up – then distributed and switched about.Everywhere everything is ordered to stand-by, to be immediately on hand, indeed to stand there JUST SO THAT IT MAY BE ON CALL FOR A FURTHER ORDERING.This is clearly undignified.


BTWThe essence of technology is by no means anything technological. Thus we shall never experience our relationship with the essence of technology so long as we merely conceive and push forward the technological, put up with it or in the case of haters, evade it.But this much remains correct: modern technology too is a means to an end. That is why the instrumental conception of technology conditions every attempt to bring man into the right relation to technology. Everything depends on our manipulating technology in the proper manner as a means. We will master it.The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.


"In the Enlightenment, universalization was viewed as unlimited growth and forward progress. Today, by contrast, universalization is expressed as a forward escape." JB -The Violence of the Global, in the journal Critical Theory


And so Holderlin asks: "What is the role of the poet, in a destitute time?"

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