Heidegger Essay

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Heidegger, Technology and Postmodernity GREGORY BRUCE SMITH* University of Michigan This article presents an overview of Martin Hiedegger’s philosophical thinking in regard to technology. Heidegger is a key twentieth century thinker whose work can be compared and contrasted to the more well known thinkers and their insights in regard to modernity. Using Heidegger as a springboard, and locating him in the historical context of modernistic thinkers (which include Machiavelli, De- scartes, Bacon, Newton, Hobbes) this article provides a definition of modernity that coheres to historical and present day conceptions; and treats Heidegger’s critique of modernity, technology, and metaphysics as a key to understanding conceptions of postmodem political and social life. Modernity began as an idea. We can trace its origin, although perhaps only with imprecision. It was the idea of Machiavelli, Descartes, Bacon, Newton, Hobbes and a host of others. The unprecedented transformations of the modem age are an indication that ideas have consequences. Ancient traditions were left behind in favor of a world that we projected for ourselves as the product of conscious human choice. Freedom, emancipation, liberation and self-determination became the watch-words of the age. The thinkers who helped launch modernity shared a revulsion at being the pawns of a tradition that was the product of accident rather than choice. They wished to cast from their backs the weight of mores which humanity had carried throughout history like beasts of burden-camels, to use Nietzsche’s metaphor.’ To use Machiavelli’s metaphor, modems wished to “conquer Fortuna.” From the beginning the most profound longing of modernity has been to fashion a world that is the product of human choice. The French Revolution is the quintessential modem act. Ancient traditions,

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