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heidegger and marcuse

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Outline the key similarities and differences between Heidegger and Marcuse in relation to the impact of modern technology

        This essay will seek to delineate the key similarities and differences between Martin Heidegger and Herbert Marcuse in connection to the impact of technology. To begin Heidegger had a simple upbringing in the countryside this lead him according to Macquarrie to have a “critical and almost prophetic stance in the technological age”. (page 1 John Macquarrie)[1] Heidegger’s work focuses on the question of the meaning of Being, which directed him to see the essence of technology not actually being technical (Biemel pp134)[2] just as the essence of the tree “is not itself a tree, which can be found among the other trees.” (pp13 Heidegger)[3] Heidegger’s explanation of technology takes us further than other interpretations. He argues that modern science is in essence technological, which means what goes on in modern science corresponds to the truth of Being in the sense of Gestell.  As Gestell meant enframing, and framing in the dictionary describes as skeleton. (Biemel)[4]

        Herbert Marcuse on the other hand was a social critic; in 1932 he became a member of the institute for social research or the Frankfurt school. (Singer & Dunn)[5] and was mainly associated with the New Left and youth movements of the 1960s and 1970. Andrew Freenbury supports Marcuse’s view that the technology is socially determined, in his article (Marcuse or Habermas: Two critiques of technology)[6] Feenbury says that this is because the essence of technology is just like any other social institution, it is influenced by interest in public processes and as it to is subject to political critique. As a dialectical theory of rationality is based on the Frankfurt school. (Freeburg)[7] Freeburg goes onto say, that Marcuse’s theory of technology is based on an ontological understanding of being. (Freenburg)[8]

        The difference Heidegger has is that he saw television as “the peak of this abolition of every possibility of remoteness” (Heidegger)[9] he claims that in technology seeming “abolition of remoteness” we become distant from ourselves and things around us. (Wrathall & Malpas)[10] they go on to say technology is, as Heidegger acknowledges, a mode of disclosedness or revealing, its particular en-framing of things. Thus Heidegger writes of the essence of technology that it ”conceals that revealing which, in the sense of poiesis, lets what presences come forth into appearance….The coming to presence of technology threatens revealing, threatens it with the possibility that all revealing will be consumed by ordering and that everything will present itself only in the unconcealedness of standing-reserve.” (Heidegger)[11] technology threatens the possibility of such conjoining. It is apparent that spatiality plays an important role both in the Heideggerian critique of technology and in Heidegger’s account of that being in the world which we can also refer to as dwelling. This means space plays an important role, and has to do with the structure of disclosededness. An important difference to acknowledge is that Heidegger claimed technology can get out of hand and that we should turn away from it. According to Heidegger science and technology have helped perpetuate this distorted view of the world, into so many objects to be manipulated and consumed. (Singer & Dunn)[12] To add he used art especially readings of poetry to combat what he saw as the negative affects of modern western culture. As the process of artistic creation differs from that of manufactured work. Heidegger saw technology as reflecting human intentions whereas art reflects the ways in which human intones interact with the non human world. Thus artist can become Beings, as art was truth and therefore saw science as lacking truth. “What matters to this mindfulness throughout is not a description and elucidation of these sciences but rather the consolidation of the abandonment of being that sciences have enacted and which has been enacted in them-in short, of the lack of truth in all science.” (pp100)[13] and so Heidegger goes on to say we must be mindful of science. Beginning with our Being, we can then proceed to the questioning of technology. "Questioning builds a way… a way of thinking." Heidegger believes that we must have a free relationship with technology in order to explore it effectively. This relationship can be free only if it opens our Being to the essence of technology. Essence, for Heidegger, means more than just ‘what a thing is’, it means the way in which something pursues its course, "the way in which it remains through time as what it is." (QCT 3)[14]. "Everywhere will remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it. But we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral; for this conception of it, to which today we particularly like to do homage, makes us utterly blind to the essence of technology." (QCT 4)[15] Technology is a sort of revealing, who's essence is Enframing. "We now name that challenging claim which gathers man thither to order the self-revealing as standing-reserve: ‘Ge-stell’[Enframing]." (QCT 19) When translated from German, Gestell [frame], can mean skeleton as well as some kind of apparatus, like a bookshelf. Heidegger uses the term enframing as a challenging claim on man. Once things have been revealed to us we place them inside of a "frame" of understanding, much like a picture frame does to an image. Not only does the image now have a place inside the frame, but we can call it a picture because of the frame which it has around it. Yet it would still be an image without the frame. "But Enframing does not simply endanger man in his relationship to himself and to everything that is. As a destining, it banishes man into that kind of revealing which is an ordering. This ordering holds sway, it drives out every other possibility of revealing. Above all, Enframing conceals that revealing which, in the sense of poiesis [truth], lets what presences come forth into appearance." (QCT 27) he saw implications on modern technology. We should return to the simple way of living ‘the German way of life’ his wrong how do we get there.

In Marcuse’s influential book entitled One Dimensional Man (Marcuse)[16] Marcuse describes how capitalism creates social control, and calls it a “totally administered” society. He goes on to say the consumption of goods becomes the goal, and the actual need or satisfaction and ignored. Marcuse identified this as “pattern of one dimensional thought and behaviour in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives” this happens with the help of the mass media thought advertising, to sustain the cycle of production and consumption. Marcuse says technology is responsible for liberating us and thinks rationally. A difference of Heidegger is that he saw technology as a social process. Marcuse see’s obedience to the machine has become the only way for human beings to get along. “Invention is the mother of nersiserty” (social Marcuse)[17], not the other way round. We need things because were programmed to. Your wants have been manufactured; you are bound to the system which programmes our desires and wants. We have lost sense of natural rationality. That has been replaced with things we want. This can be truth as people can be obsessed with cars. Freedom is not lost rather we fall in line with capitalism. He says if we get rid of technology where do we go? Thus we should abandon notion of vocational training as it is about being trained to be part of the system. (edditors) instead we should operate outside the system. This technological mind set we must step away. Make observational, then use modern technology in order to recast, reargue technology. We should use technology to release us of the burden of labour, cars we had endless leisure time the state will pay for it. Marcuse does not say we should get rid of it; instead make use of it, as it will free us from our burdens of labour. Allow us to recover the rationality; we will be its master. That is the revolution taking the means you need to take machines out of private ownership, state ownership anti fashionist. Marcuse regards the epochal structure of technological rationality as changeable. (Freenburg)[18] in his book (One Dimensional Man 1964)[19] Marcuse writes that he believes the answer is in creating a new type of technology, one that would put us in harmony with nature. An example of this is early twentieth century avant-garde film? Such as Un Chin A as reason and imagination is mixed and integrates human beings with their environment. He focused his work on the Marxist theory of capitalist, so in Marcuse’s book (Some Social Implications of Modern Technology, pp419)[20] he talks of scientific discoveries and inventions being put to one side if they interrupt the profitable markets. An example of this is he scientist he discovered how wee could be in place of petrol. He also says “everything cooperates to turn human instincts, desires and thoughts into channels that feed the apparatus” (Marcuse)[21]

        Both Heidegger and Marcuse members of the Frankfurt school, which as based on social most thinking. There are some remarkable parallels between Heidegger’s teachings on technology and Marcuse’s. Like Heidegger he sees art as truth. “We are trapped and blinded by a mode of thought” (Heidegger)[22] coincides with Marcuse’s thoughts how modern men are blinded and signs don’t allow us to think for our self’s. Marcuse is champion technology for liberation, Marcuse talks of mind set, the way different people share common ways of doing thingsMarcuse shared ideas of rational and mind set. Marcus received his philosophical education from Heidegger, so not drought would share his views on the anti-technological emotions that Heidegger did (Bubner pp 170)[23] they both believe rationality is transformed, thus we conform to the system. This leads to fashionism. Wanting not needing makes humans’ think of themselves, this according to Heidegger leads to being. Technology is enslaving us. Believes that it is in art, an original unity of man nature. Both believe that it has been lost in the cause of history. Both agree we should not take nature for grated. Both provide critiques of technology. In his book (Some Social Implications of Modern Technology)[24] Marcuse gives an example of the construction of cars. He goes on to say that they do not allow freedom, rather road signs make us passive, as we subordinate ourselves to follow them. He says “perhaps for the better” he would agree with Heidegger that the machine age puts us into rhythm. He also says that we have lost are ability to travel as free auto mobiles this leads to fashionism. (Marcuse)[25] putting machine before nature “the average man hardly cares for any living being with the intensity and persistence he shows for his automobile”. (Marcuse 440)[26] he goes onto say that the machine becomes like a human being.

Marcuse in his book The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics (Marcuse)[27] describes art as reflecting reality and describes the process as putting realistic subject matter in artistic form as sublimation.

        Marcuse talks of an avant garde move well (Rutsky)[28], talks of “High tech is, in fact, often presented as a kind of avant-grage movement.” Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari & retrain. We can get out of the mind set Through retraining ourselves from technology Says we can reject the mind set and return to nature. The retain in relation to music key element. To add Rutsky describes technology as a mutation (Rutsky)[29] he says you can not have post modernity with out technology. Rutsky goes against Heidegger by saying commencement of technology has changed in an age of high technology. Rutsky said it’s a good thing in his article High Techne, he talks of computers and how you can create your own music or film (production) this brings as back to the Greek ideal of craftsmanship. Rutsky said it is not lost but described in modern times. Rusky says it’s already happing there has been a shift from modern to post modern technology. and calls it a high tech age, Laclau & Moufte

Work like music different political periods unified outside agencies, world works to a sense of timing, sometimes there’s an imbalance in harmony periods when physical manifestations e.g computers new medias ect as they were marketed develop something was not right (1970s/1980s) focault says its about words and language, and that we are moving into a machine world and in doing so we are also equally moving into a capitalist society. Focault supports Marcuse in that it is more about us wanting then needing. Radio four documentary suggests there’s a relationship between science, state and the royal family, and the way technology gets introduced to us. In the programme visions of the future (BB4) “By 2020 intelligence will be everywhere” evolutionally leap that will challenge the human condition. Computer mimic the way the human brain works. Building of Roberts Asimo, like Frankenstein, this raises the question will we lose our sense of being human. Technology is a creative thing, 1980s a design counts as a reconstruction, Rutsky has rediscovered what Heidegger thought has been missing. Technology has meaning, it is about representation. Rutsky says it’s a move away from preduction to reproduction. Foucault (Foucault the Linguistic turn) what things mean and represent technology is not about the means to the end. Rutsky says technology has brought about are liberation. (The satellite story)[30] documentary which explored the impact of modern technology, and which meant we could have live broadcasting, it also showed how we could watch other parts of the world at the same time, which made the world seem smaller.

        By this same reasoning, it follows that the discourse of technology - the ways in which it is used - is also a social construct, a product of the same social cultural context. It is important to note that Rutsky distinguishes between good and bad technology, and describes the bad technology as “uncanny functionality” as war killings as they have been instrumentalized to an unprecedented degree. (Rutsky)[31]

        While Heidegger said it’s the end of technology and that we have allowed enframing to take over. 1994 technology the new media environment changes came about we leave in a media age media is everything. This takes us back to Heidegger. On our way to distraction unless we get to grips with the essence.

2003 New York blackout caused cauos. Roads traffic lights lifts, it was a lack of cilivasaton, but did it bring people closer together: (interview) so we as a nation are not ready to live without technology

People and shared common ideas. How it works

How did these ideas change, how media agencies give the same message.

Gives the cause and effects of modern technology (use contemporary ideas, news magazines)

Other philosophers

Harvey style of referencing (Heidegger: 22)

Discuss what happens in the passage and why it is significant to the work as a whole.

the ideas expressed.

Both critics point to the importance

It acknowledges

Often the paradox is such, then that

On the other hand the article seeks to engage the problem of . In her "Cyborg Manifesto" Donna Haraway explains what this might entail: "Taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skilful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all our parts" (181, emphasis mine). In support of Heidegger. The internet, new post modern writers, critics of Heidegger say you can not torch or see it so why ponder about the essence of technology. The ideas of Heidegger are relevant today. Heidegger is right in saying technology enframs us but wrong to say we should return to nature. (Freenburg)[32] argues that technology is not neutral, and that using it involves taking a valuative stance. The films like extentez technology becomes one with the human race. Habermas uses the phase “fraternal relation to nature” to express Marcuse’s observation on technology.

        No one can deny that our society is immersed in technology, therefore we must try to understand technology and our relation to it or else we become ignorant captives of it, blind to the bondage that defines our daily activities. With the increasing incorporation of computers and technology into every aspect of our lives, we need to comprehend that a surrounding is taking place. Technology is more than just our use of gadgets and tools to make common tasks easier, it is an understanding of the world as being apprehendable. As we are surrounded by technology, we become wrapped in its apprehension of both ourselves and our surroundings. All to simple we can not be either or

(Wrathall and Malpas)[33] conclude on their chapter Heidegger, Technology, and the problem of spatiality in Being and Time, that “technology is a mode of disclosedness” it is not wrong but there is a flaw, as he says there’s no way out of the mind set. Freenburg suggest that both Heidegger and Marcus theory’s are not convincing but it

brings into focus the need for us to limit our use of it. (freenburg)[34] he goes on to say “they are too indiscriminate in their condemnation of technology to guide efforts to reform it. The critique of technology as such usually ends in retreat from the technical sphere into art, religion, or nature.”

Neither or “sometimes technology is overextended, sometimes it is politically biased, sometimes it is both” (Freeburg)[35] it is that times are changing Rutsky talks how it is the modernist aspiration to make art both practical and functional. Thus Technologize art. (Rutsky)[36]

3000 WORDS


Un Chin A



Nicole C Walker

[1]John Macquarrie, Markers of the contemporary theology Martin Heidegger, Pub: Lutterworth Press,1968

[2]Walter Biemel, Martin Heidegger an illustrated study, Pub: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1977

[3]Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning technology, 1953

[4]Walter Biemel, Martin Heidegger an illustrated study, Pub: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1977

[5]Alan Singer n Allen Dunn, Literary Aesthetics, Pub: Blackwell, 2000 pp 49

[6] [“Marcuse or habermas: To critiques of technology, ” Inquiry 39, 1996, pp.45-70.]

[7] [“Marcuse or habermas: To critiques of technology, ” Inquiry 39, 1996, pp.45-70.]

[8] [“Marcuse or habermas: To critiques of technology, ” Inquiry 39, 1996, pp.45-70.]

[9]Martin Heidegger, The Thing in poetry language thought, 165

[10]Mark wrathall, Heidegger, authenticity, and modernity, pub: The  MIT Press 2000

[11]Martin Heidegger, the question concerning technology, 27

[12]Alan Singer n Allen Dunn, Literary Aesthetics, Pub: Blackwell, 2000

[13]Translated by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly, Martin Heidegger Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning) Pub: Indiana University Press, 1999

[14]Martin Heidegger, the Question Concerning technology

[15]Martin Heidegger, the Question Concering technology

[16]Herbert Marcuse One dimensional Man

[17]Herbert Marcuse, Some Social Implications of Modern Technology,

[18][“Marcuse or habermas: To critiques of technology, ” Inquiry 39, 1996, pp.45-70.]

[19]Marcuse, One Dimensional Man 1964

[20]Herbert Marcuse, Some Social Implications of Modern Technology, pp419

[21]Herbert Marcuse, Some Social Implications of Modern Technology, pp 420

[22]Martin Heidegger, the Question Concering technology,

[23]Rudiger Bubner, Mordern German Philosophy, Pub:Cambridge University Press, 1981

[24]Herbert Marcuse, Some Social Implications of Modern Technology, pp419

[25]Herbert Marcuse, Some Social Implications of Modern Technology, pp419

[26]Herbert Marcuse, Some Social Implications of Modern Technology, pp420

[27]Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics, Boston: Beacon Press, 1978, PP 6-11, 16-18

[28]R.L Rutsky, High Techne Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman pp. 5

[29]R.L Rutsky, High Techne Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman

[30]2/12/2007 Aired 21:00 The Satellite Story

[31]R.L Rutsky, High Techne Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman pp.3

[32][“Marcuse or habermas: To critiques of technology, ” Inquiry 39, 1996, pp.45-70.]

[33]Mark wrathall, Heidegger, authenticity, and modernity, pub: The  MIT Press 2000

[34][“Marcuse or habermas: To critiques of technology, ” Inquiry 39, 1996, pp.45-70.]

[35][“Marcuse or habermas: To critiques of technology, ” Inquiry 39, 1996, pp.45-70.]

[36] R.L Rutsky, High Techne Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman pp 9

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