Note: The main work from which text was drawn is "The Question Concerning
Technology" by Martin Heidegger.
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher, who developed existential
phenomenology and has been widely regarded as the most original
20th-century philosopher. His works include complicated essays such as "An
introduction to Metaphysics" and "The Question Concerning Technology." In
his essay "The Question Concerning Technology," Heidegger attempts to
create several intricate arguments regarding technology and the
significance of information. One prominent theme in this essay is the idea
and meaning of info rmation.
Heidegger presents his thoughts by searching for the roots of the ideas
behind information. He includes many references to German, Greek and Latin
vocabulary to better explain his ideas. In order to fully understand the
meaning and significance of informa tion, one must be educated as to the
accurate definitions of some basic vocabulary regarding information. The
first word that is significant to the idea of information that Heidegger
explains to the reader is "episteme." Episteme in basic translation can be
defined as "knowledge." "(Episteme is a term). for knowing in the widest
sense. (it) means to be entirely at home with something, to understand and
be expert in it. Such knowing provides an opening up. As an opening it up
it is a revealing." This leads
to the next expression, "alethia." Alethia is used by Heidegger the same
way it was defined by the ancient Greeks; "revealing." This same word is
translated by the Romans to "veritas." Again, "veritas" in English is used
to mean "truth" which can be unde rstood as "correctness and
representation." It is in this change, due to translation of ideas, that
Heidegger notices some inconsistencies.
Information is an often misused term in Heidegger's opinion. As previously
noted, the translation from one language to another can often turn true
definitions of words askew, and this can cause serious problems with
larger concepts of technology and an id ea of "enframing" (gestell).
Gestell is a German word whose direct translation means "enframing." The
idea of enframing is also quite prevalent in this essay.
"We now name that challenging claim which gathers man thither to order the
self-revealing as standing-reserve: "ge-stell" (enframing). We dare to use
this word in a sense that has been thoroughly unfamiliar up to now.
According to ordinary usage, the word
Gestell (frame) means some kind of apparatus, e.g., a bookrack. Gestell
is also the name for a skeleton. And the employment of the word
Gestell(enframing) that is now required of us seems equally eerie, not to
speak of the arbitrariness with which words of a mature language are so
"Enframing means the gathering together of that setting-upon that sets man
upon man, i.e., challenges him to bring forth, to reveal the real, in the
mode of ordering, as standing reserve. Enframing means that way of
revealing that holds sway in the essenc e of modern technology and that it
is itself nothing technological." Heidegger is portraying the idea that
gestell is not a tangible object but more of a concept, a way of
classifying. Although it may seem possible to step away from this
"gestell" it is i mpossible. Regardless of outside influences there is
still the underlying revelation that occurs through gestell. In the idea
of gestell lies the idea of information. Information is indebted (aion) to
enframing (gestell), just as enframing is indebted (ai on) to revealing
(alethia). Alethia is then indebted (aion) to knowledge (episteme). These
cycles of indebtedness are recognized by Heidegger and are called the four
the causa materialis, the material, the matter out of which, for example,
a silver chalice is made.
the causa formalis, the form, the shape into which the material enters.
the causa finalis, the end, for example, the sacrificial rite to which the
chalice required is determined as to its form and matter
the causa efficiens, which brings about the effect that is the finished,
actual chalice, in this instance, the silversmith.
The significance of these four causes becomes more readily apparent when
the definition of indebtedness is further understood. The basic idea of
indebtedness and of being responsible is often misinterpreted. Again,
Heidegger introduces terminology that wi ll better describe what is meant
by indebtedness and responsibility. "Poiesis" literally means
"bringing-forth" and this is the definition that Heidegger intended when
describing the four causes. Heidegger recognizes that the "causa finalis "
is brought f orth by a combination of other causes and is incapable of
"repaying" the debt that is produced. It simply exists. "Bringing-forth
brings out of concealment into unconcealment. Bringing forth comes to pass
only insofar as something concealed comes into unc oncealment." Poiesis is
rooted in the word "alethia" (which was previously mentioned.)
This ever cyclical concept about information was one of the main features
of Heidegger's work in "The Question Concerning Technology." Each idea is
linked to another which joins other ideas to produce a web of thoughts and
ideas. The whole of any piece is
not as significant as the sum of the parts. Every part, whether it be as
simple as an idea on making a silver chalice or as complicated as the
essence of technology, is not viewed upon alone and this idea of many
parts being inseparable is noted by Marti n Heidegger. As to if he agrees
that this is a good thing, the answer would be no. He thinks that in order
to find the place of an object or notion, one must be completely separate
from it and view it from a completely unbiased viewpoint. This would be im
possible. Human falibility creates gestell (enframing) that links and
associates all ideas together.