Monday, 12 May 2014

Heidegger's "Gestell" & feeling of "self"

What Heidegger meant by "Gestell" is open to anyone willing to read his later (1951?) essay "The Question Concerning Technology".

In this essay, Heidegger follows reflections on (Greek and German) language and terms, to strike at what is the "essence" of technology.

I was someone for whom reading this essay was quite a jolt.
But several years on, I am more circumspect and less passionate about the things which Heidegger thought to be at stake.

On the other hand, I have no doubt that technology grips people and the world. What ways of working do not resolve into some sort of technique or technology?

It's in one's stance in relation to Technology that Heidegger thought there could be some hope. He spoke of "Gelassenheit", releasement, and imagined there to be a "saving power" in technology itself, which could be "granted". All the jargon is there.

I am less passionate now, because I concluded that those one most wishes to engage with a discussion on "essences" of technologies (or anything a Wittgenstein might have to show regarding the unutterable), or any other "essence", are going to be blind to what one is getting at.

I find I can't use that word "essence" with any force now.
"Existence precedes essence" likewise hasn't any traction.
I must have advanced.

I think these words had grip while there was a feeling for a more or less continuous "self".
But there isn't. Whole selves come and go, wholesale.

D W Winnicott was a British psychoanalyst (of the Kleinian object relations school). He speaks of the possibility of a "false self". A false self might be continuous too. And working to ensure its continuity could be the work of a lifetime.

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