Excerpt from Der Spiegel Interview with Martin Heidegger (1966)

SPIEGEL: You apparently see, so you have expressed it, a world movement that either brings about or has already brought about the absolute technological state?
HEIDEGGER: Yes! But it is precisely the technological state that least corresponds to the world and society determined by the essence of technology. The technological state would be the most obsequious and blind servant in the face of the power of technology.
SPIEGEL: Fine. But now the question of course poses itself: Can the individual still influence this network of inevitabilities at all, or can philosophy influence it, or can they both influence it together in that philosophy leads one individual or several individuals to a certain action?
HEIDEGGER: Those questions bring us back to the beginning of our conversation. If I may answer quickly and perhaps somewhat vehemently, but from long reflection: Philosophy will not be able to bring about a direct change of the present state of the world. This is true not only of philosophy but of all merely human meditations and endeavors. Only a god can still save us. I think the only possibility of salvation left to us is to prepare readiness, through thinking and poetry, for the appearance of the god or for the absence of the god during the decline; so that we do not, simply put, die meaningless deaths, but that when we decline, we decline in the face of the absent god.
SPIEGEL: Is there a connection between your thinking and the emergence of this god? Is there, as you see it, a causal connection? Do you think we can get this god to come by thinking?
HEIDEGGER: We cannot get him to come by thinking. At best we can prepare the readiness of expectation.
SPIEGEL: But can we help?
HEIDEGGER: The preparation of readiness could be the first step. The world cannot be what and how it is through human beings, but neither can it be so without human beings. In my opinion that is connected to the fact that what I call “Being,” using a traditional, ambiguous, and now worn-out word, needs human beings. Being is not Being without humans being needed for its revelation, protection, and structuring. I see the essence of technology in what I call the con-struct. This name, on first hearing easily misunderstood, points, if it is properly considered, back into the innermost history of metaphysics, which still determines our existence [Dasein] today. The workings of the con-struct mean: Human beings are caught [gestellt], claimed, and challenged by a power that is revealed in the essence of technology. The experience that humans are structured [gestellt] by some-thing that they are not themselves and that they cannot control themselves is precisely the experience that may show them the possibility of the insight that humans are needed by Being. The possibility of experience, of being needed, and of being prepared for these new possibilities is concealed in what makes up what is most modern technology’s own. Thinking can do nothing more than to help humans to this insight, and philosophy is at an end.

One thought on “Excerpt from Der Spiegel Interview with Martin Heidegger (1966)

  1. Pingback: Something or Nothing? Fundamental questions that shape how we live | Politics, Statesmanship, Philosophy

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