The True Essence of Modern Technology in
Standing-Reserve According to Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was a German philosopher that argues in “The Question Concerning Technology," the essence of technology; especially that modern technology is essentially dangerous. He believes that modern technology forces us to misunderstand the world around us, including ourselves. As a result, modern technology takes away essential purposes such as freedom. This freedom revolves around man’s self-knowledge and truth. Specifically, I will introduce and discuss Heidegger’s argument of modern technology “standing-reserve”. By this, technology is ready to be controlled by humans. In the mean ...view middle of the document...
However, Heidegger says that this is dangerous to us, as humans, because we become controlled to standing-reserve but do not have some utility as the airplane has in transportation. He then adds into his argument that nature and things become ordered as standing reserve as we do, without a real utility. This ultimately prevents our self-knowledge because we are reduced to standing- reserve and diminishes the truth because we do not know other objects in their essential, true nature.
In regards to modern technology forcing nature as a standing-reserve, Heidegger uses the hydroelectric plant and the Rhine River as an example for this. Heidegger states:
The hydroelectric plant is set into the current of the Rhine. It sets the Rhine to supplying its hydraulic pressure, which then sets the turbines turning… even the Rhine itself appears as something at our command. The hydroelectric plant is not built into the Rhine River as was the old wooden bridge that joined bank with bank for hundreds of years. Rather the river is dammed up into the power plant. What the river is now, namely, a water power supplier… (p. 105)
In this, Heidegger is exhibiting how the dam is changing the means or essential purpose of the river. Instead of its natural purpose, it is now used as a “water-power supplier”. In this way, technology is transforming the natural world into a means of benefit and ignoring the essential job of the physical and natural world. Also, Heidegger is comparing the prior technology of the past hundreds of years to our modern technology and its destruction of nature. He references the wooden bridge that served as the purpose to walk from bank to bank. It is important and better in this case according to Heidegger, because nothing in nature...