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What is dangerous is not technology. There is no demonry of technology, but rather there is the mystery of its essence. The essence of technology, as a destining of revealing, is the danger. The threat to man does not come in the first instance from the potentially lethal machines and apparatus of technology. The actual threat has already affected man in his essence. The rule of Enframing threatens man with the possibility that it could be denied to him to enter into a more original revealing and hence to experience the call of a more primal truth.

The ascendancy of technical reason and instrumentalization, Heidegger thought, generated highly inauthentic individuals who were unable to live meaningful lives. This is because the primary purpose of existence was regarded as the pursuit of a kind of materialist satisfaction. This was true across political forms, which is partly why Heidegger claimed that the hyper-partisan distinction between Left and Right is actually trivial. Both liberal capitalism and its great rival communism are equally devoted to the modernist pursuit of materialist satisfaction.

The only difference between them is over the most efficient means to pursue that goal. By contrast, Heidegger stressed that materialist satisfaction can never provide a truly meaningful existence. On the contrary, it can only produce tremendous anxiety as we recognize that the limitations of our lives and the inevitability of death will one day bring the party to an end.


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At that point, our pursuit of material satisfaction and wealth will turn out to have been meaningless. Heidegger argues that many of us realize this, and feel contempt for the vulgarity and emptiness of our societies. Being and Time was a call for authenticity in an age apparently dedicated to running from it. This project will of course be doomed to ultimate failure, because the finiteness of time available to us will ensure it is never fully completed. But the meaning of our lives comes from choosing as worthy a project as possible and pursuing it with as much dedication as one can muster.

This is an immensely inspiring critique, and I can only gesture at its power in this short article. Many commentators , myself included, tend to interpret Being and Time as a call for a unique form of individualism. It is also philosophically implausible for Heidegger. The authentic individuality Heidegger favored comes from making use of these meanings to shape something fundamentally new, but which grows organically out of what came before. But this of course means that a decadent and damaged society will not provide its members with the tools necessary to live authentic existences.

It must therefore be condemned and refashioned as necessary. Its reverence for the traditional practices and beliefs of the German volk and its call for the liberal individual to surrender himself to a greater collective cause must have appealed to him a great deal, both in its conservative and radical dimensions.

There also seems to be a sense in which the earlier anti-liberal individualism of Being and Time gives way to a more social vision. Now it referred to the nation and its destiny. He was a great fool to think that Nazism, a hyper-modern totalitarian movement bent on world conquest and the submission of all individual wills to Adolph Hitler, was an ideological instrument useful to the project of creating a more authentic world. It is likely that his own life-long attraction to German traditionalism and national identity blinded him to the extremism of its policies.

Heidegger was one of the greatest philosophers in the twentieth century, despite his contemptible politics. There remains much we can learn from him, if we take care to isolate the gems of insight from the dangerous currents underneath. This is often a challenge whenever one is dealing with a critique of modernity that is powerful enough to be convincing. One must always take care not to trade the imperfect for the tyrannical. Many people believe that our purpose in life remains a form of self-satisfaction. Today, however, this includes an emphasis on the expression of a given identity, various forms of left-wing agitation, and the emergence of postmodern conservatism.

At his best, Heidegger would warn us that this emphasis on identity can lead us to live inauthentic existences. The efforts of postmodern conservatives to provide stability for their sense of identity by excluding those who are different reflects this tendency; a temptation Heidegger himself fell into against the better inclinations of his philosophy. We long for a sense of stability in our identities, but this longing is antithetical to the quest for true authenticity.

What we must recognize is that identity is always unstable because it is framed by the tasks we set for ourselves. Our identity is always unstable because an authentic person is always seeking to become something greater than they were before. Heidegger focused our attention on mysterious questions that are too frequently ignored. In particular, the questions of ontology: What does it mean to be?

What does it mean to say this or that particular thing exists? Why is there something instead of nothing at all? And so on. He was wrong to criticize scientific technical reason for its indifference to these questions. Indeed, many seminal figures, from Einstein to Lee Smolin, were preoccupied by these ontological issues. But we are no doubt still prone to ignoring them in favor of questions that permit clearer answers.

But Heidegger also pointed out that asking ontological questions can and does play a fundamental role in our personal lives, and that dismissing them may prevent us from reflecting on what is truly important. No one truly knows from whence we came, and each of us fears the annihilation to which we must inevitably return. Pondering these issues, as well as the more general question of where anything came from and what it is moving towards, can help us bring deeper focus to life. It still looked remarkably pristine at the end of term.

But perhaps Michael was not actually and faithfully doing the job he was being paid to do that summer. When I was there, the residential floors in my college were separated by sex. Those were the days. Sort of. Fascinating dichotomy of a man concerned about the destructive properties of materialism yet enamored one of the most materialistic regimes in history. Said another way people with disreputable reputations may still have ideas worth pondering.

Thank you to the author for the insights contained within. Heidegger confuses government with spirituality. The former is hopefully designed to ease the pain of human existence. Heidegger had no idea, nor did he care to observe, what people actually think. Heidegger thought he knew better when he had no greater insight to why and how we exist, or to what purpose we might strive, then the person, now lost to history, that was murdered while he fiddled.

I know you mean well, and I thank you, Mitra. Grant Very good point. It also illustrates why Descartes left the question of Being after. You can either get stuck or move on to thinking about things which could lead us somewhere. Which he did and they have. Einstein said that the miracle of human existence is the ability at all to perceive the nature of the universe.

But I agree. I think he could be a fraud. Their materialism was a product of their creativity, desire and work, but not how they gauged their existence. They counted their worth on how they conducted themselves in life in regard to other living beings. Heidegger knew very well what Hitler was up to, and was witness to the fleeing of many of his colleagues, who were Jewish, and thus feared for their lives, but determined that his comfortable existence was more important.

Much of his work seems to be impenetrable, and thus often nonsense. What great inroads to philosophy is lost on me. For most people, having wrested a materially supporting environment for their children to flourish out of an unforgiving and difficult world provides a deep sense of spiritual accomplishment as they face death. The you find meaning in interactions with other humans who will also be dead soon enough thereafter is fine, but is it really anything more than an opinion, a preference, a faithful belief?

What of the child you raise who then becomes Hitler? Or perhaps your child is just the parent of someone who becomes Hitler. I read Being and Time in college with the guidance of a very credible professor, and I seem to remember him saying that Heidegger was never a member of the party. However, I think the Nazis actually rejected him in a way, and he remained uninvolved as of around perhaps his writings were not sufficiently Nazi-oriented for him to be welcomed into the party.

Having said all that, I could be wrong about this as my studying of him is not fresh in the mind. Does anyone have supporting or refuting information? And not allowed to teach uptil by the French occupation , but his Jewish discipel and onetime lover Hannah Arendt visited him after the war a few times, last time just before they both died.


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  • Would she have avoided to talk with him about his nazi sympathy? I wonder if this is possible at all! After her preoccupation invention of?? My grandfather has a bronze swastika medallion awarded by a grateful nation imbedded in his gravestone; but he was never a Nazi, nor did he ever fight on their side.

    Valentino Gerratana, Heidegger and Marx, NLR I/, November–December

    Neither was my father, John, but, yes, he fought at his side he had to, otherwise?? So, survived, unlike his best friend my second name is named after him, my father wanted it to be my first name, but my mother thought dirk was better, the name of her grandfather. Russel He was a dues paying member until the party disbanded. He was a German nationalist who believed that only Germans, who had an ancient connection to the soil could really ever be German.

    It seems to me that Heidegger hoped that with the control of National Socialism, coupled with a kinda of mass re-education through philosophy would help mankind enter a new consciousness of being. The problem with totalitarian thinkers and philosophers , is that they are totalitarians lol. It would seem that there could be an improvement to liberalism that would create a more collective sense of belonging and meaning than we have today.

    National socialism or just nationalism might get us closer. Quite enjoyed Being and Time some 25 years ago. It is on my short list of books to re-read. I generally put Heidegger as third in my philosophical influences —Wittgenstein and Nietzsche far more so as I read a greater breadth of their works. Heidegger is certainly not for everyone….. One thing: I refuse to vet my reading, music, movies…. Over the years I watch incredulously as people disavow what they used to love over some perceived assault to their moral beliefs….

    Did you read him in German? Friends who read German tell me that Heidegger is hard to translate. One friend originally read him in French and said that it was much more interesting and useful to read him in German. Whenever I read a translated work I go into it knowing that I am an extra step away from the original.

    Yet 25 years after I read Being and Time, certain thoughts and observations from it stick with me.

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    Wittgenstein is far far more of an influence to me. I also learnt differential calculus, never really used it since…. Some writers are terrible, even though they have good ideas. Buck Minister Fuller is a great example for me. Would I consider translated Heidegger a good writer…nope. Abandon the great man in history, cleave to the great mind in history? Is this the true form of philosophy? Can I too be a philosopher king?

    Will the view from the ivory tower be authentic? If not, off with their empty heads. I prefer reading mortgages and homilies by Pope Francis when trying to sleep. This sounds like sense-free random noise disguised as profoundity. But yes, probably a very good insomnia treatment! This sort of reporting goes on all the time on our university campuses today and has been documented several times on Quillette.

    In my opinion, all of that would make him intellectually important, no matter what his character or politics were. It seems to me that Heidegger was primarily an antisemite with respect to culture rather than race. His mentor Husserl was a Catholic Jew, and he had many Jewish students, so he did not seek to separate himself from all Jewish persons.

    But he presumably objected to a Weimar culture of commerce and tabloids in which Jews played a prominent role, perhaps preferring a culture more aristocratic and feudal. I fear, Mitch, all this is rather un-american, difficult to grasp by our american friends, but quite logical in a European context of evolutionary humanism read Harari about this, about his secular, socialist and evolutionary humanism.

    His later critique on cold technnology and consumerism the heart of capitalism, and maybe his antisemitism?? Thinking somewhat more about it, I find it completely irrelevant what the political aspirations of Heidegger were, to evaluate his philosophy ,poetry and reasoning. What hell! How to order in terms of sinister or monstrous evil? Do we give Sartre a free pass? I put them all in a category that is named human. Gerhard Ritter was the only faculty member to attend and he had expressed some early enthusiasm for National Socialism, but discarded that quite quickly and attended the funeral as an expression of dissent.

    No one else was so intrepid. We step into a river at various points in our life but never as the same person. We rarely find ourselves to be unchanged and for very many, and Matt is a sterling example, stepping into Heiddeger is a case in point. Heidegger seems to have concluded that the pre-Socratics were deep, the Socratics including Aristotle were relatively shallow or dogmatic, or on the road to the shallow moderns. Leo Strauss, who often mentioned that Heidegger was probably the greatest thinker of the twentieth century, spent a lot of time re-exploring the Socratics beyond what Heidegger had presumably done.

    Philosophic life, exploring the great questions; check. Showing concern for politics, while avoiding political fanaticism; check. I carried a copy of Being and Time all over campus in my undergraduate years. In bourgeois society, society's own social activity confronts it as "a reified power over us that grows out of our control, crosses our expectations, nullifies our calculations" ibid. Conscious control is supposed to make it possible that "our expectations" are fulfilled, that "our calculations" work out. The natural growth of society would thus be overcome, sublated into calculability and planable security of existence.

    Bringing-oneself-forth is opposed to producing, bringing another being forth. Natural growth is encountered in bourgeois society however not only as nature, but first and foremost and essentially as the alienated social activity of society itself. Nature as such, by contrast, has long since been brought under the control of humans and can be calculated precisely on the basis of natural scientific knowledge and technology; it has largely forfeited its uncanny power in the course of advancing modern technological developments that allow humans to intrude more and more deeply into nature.

    Ultimately, nature itself can be produced; what brings itself forth then can be brought forth according to plan. The world market is the modern self-upsurgence, it is not poietic bringing-forth but a wild, opaque happening infected with contingency. This self-upsurgence of the world market and the social process as a whole is supposed, however, in communism, to be transmuted into a consciously controlled bringing-forth. With this, the consummate historical perfection of human poietic comportment would be initiated.

    Here, for the moment, the issue is not whether this perfection is feasible, whether it could be realized in world history and how high its 'price' would be - even the consideration, whether society would gain in 'freedom' or lose it is a mode of calculating thinking - but rather, attention is focused here on fundamental concepts of metaphysics that allow such thoughts to be formulated with a self-evidence that addresses and appeals to the modern cast of human being.

    They entertain intimate relations with each other. The question is how Marx casts human being, cast of course not simply in the sense of a 'theory' that has been thought-up, but as the writing-down of something sent by history that becomes gradually visible to a thinker's mind. This casting circles about socialized human freedom as an historical possibility. When Marx and Engels talk about "fetters" having to be thrown off in the transition to a communist society, this transition has to be understood as the realization of a higher freedom of human being, as the liberation of an enslaved element from chains.

    For Marx and Engels, humans are needy beings who produce what they need to live - production is simultaneously production of the preconditions for the satisfaction of needs. Human being cast as needy can be satisfied. Production, however, is the expenditure of a force, the realization of a potential. How powerful humans are as producers of course depends on which means of production are employed, which in turn determine the character and the productivity of the labour process.

    Humans are productive not simply in expending bodily force, but essentially in knowing how to produce. They know how to produce means of life, and the productivity of labour, the expenditure of their labour-power, depends decisively on productive know-how. Production is control of a process of bringing-forth made possible by technical knowledge. Humans as producers control and dominate a bringing-forth, they control the process of a being coming into presence.

    This means above all that humans are able to counteract contingency or hold it at bay, i. Human productive power is domination over the presence of unintended contingency by holding it off in absence. Contingency is what cuts across and mucks up what is intended, foreseen and planned. Production thus always implies also an overcoming of and domination over contingency, its negation by a will to productive power. According to Marx and Engels, human freedom consists in humans developing the forces of production to satisfy their needs and in disposing freely - as socially collectivized subject, as underlying sub-stratum - of these, their productive forces.

    Freedom is thus located in a controlled, planned being-able-to-produce. Everything that hinders the forces of production or prevents free disposition over them to this extent injures and impairs human freedom. In the modern bourgeois epoch, as Marx and Engels rightly observe, the productive forces under the leadership of "large-scale industry" and the technological effects of the sciences have risen enormously, indeed immeasurably. They have increasingly become collective, organized, social forces.

    The increase in productive forces goes hand in hand with a progressive division of labour and with the development of world intercourse, in which the mutual dependency of the producers grows strongly, even to the point that production becomes a matter of a global economy in its mutual interrelationships and interdependencies. Humans as producers have progressed to become world producers, they have become the masters of immeasurable productive forces strewn over the globe and linked with each other in a network of production.

    Humans have become universal, world-encompassing producers and thus masters of the world. The individual cannot be viewed as producer, but only the total producer of world society, for only in this worldwide interlinking are humans today producers at all. What people need to cover their daily needs comes from all over the world, from the North Pole to the South Pole. And every producing activity is only possible - directly or indirectly - as activity for the intermeshed world market.

    But, according to Marx and Engels, humans as world-producers today are not yet free; they do not yet freely dispose of the productive forces that have already been developed and already exist. Mastery over universal production is not yet complete because there is no underlying collective social subject that could exercise this free disposition. In the German Ideology , Marx and Engels detect this "fetter" on the productive forces in the form of private property. The individual producers are not socialized and sociated as producers but only as citizens of state, in the 'superstructure'.

    Moreover, disposition over the productive forces is for the greatest part in the hand of the capitalists who, by apparently constituting the ruling starting-point for capital, are also the ruling starting-point for the production process. The greater part of the population is excluded from exercising control over the means of production. As a consequence of this, the labourers receive much less of the social product than the capitalists; the distribution of wealth is extremely unequal. So that people can become free, therefore, private property must be abolished as a "form of intercourse", as a "relation of production", i.

    The proletariat is a universal class because it not only realizes its own freedom through a revolution, but also that of the capitalist class, which is also unfree in bourgeois society insofar as it is not a social subject that has control over the social productive forces as social forces. The productive forces of the world are splintered into millions of dissociated units strewn worldwide which are only associated with each other via the market and mediated by rivalrous competition.

    Instead of consciously sociated control, contingency holds sway over the products and thus over the productive forces themselves. The arbitrariness of the world market makes any planning of a subject null and void; subjects do not control production completely, even though it is without exception people with the aid of 'natural resources' who produce specific commodities. The world market confronts humans as an alien power.

    Social power, i. The world market is presented here as a "natural" "violent force", like a force of nature, which counters humans and which should be broken by humans. In the German Ideology Marx and Engels underscore the division of labour as an alien power which ties the individuals to a single, one-sided activity and thus prevents their all-round development and the cultivation of their productive forces. In later writings on the critique of political economy, Marx will no longer emphasize the division of labour and its sublation, but instead the abstract socialization in value or exchange-value , a concept which still does not play any role in the German Ideology.

    The social fetters on the social productive forces must be eliminated and thrown off if humans are to become free as consciously sociated producers. Only then will the violent force of contingency and 'natural growth' be abolished and a total social subject of the productive forces step into its place. Only then will a realm of freedom be realized. The preconditions for this transition to a higher social form are, according to Marx and Engels at the time of writing the German Ideology , of two kinds: first , the formation of an overwhelming mass of propertyless individuals whose conditions of existence are "unbearable" MEW and "contingent" MEW and second , the development of the productive forces to such a degree that the satisfaction of needs of the earth's entire population is guaranteed.

    With these preconditions it is the satisfiable neediness of human being which steps into the foreground as opposed to the free, socialized disposition over the productive forces, which now appears as a condition of the universal satisfaction of needs. What Marx and Engels envisage as communism forms a single structured whole that includes a posited historical casting of human being itself. With this positing, the future is also cast. The advent of the future is thought by Marx and Engels as the abolition of the bourgeois form of intercourse, as its sublation into a conscious sociation in which a collective subject forms its will in some all-encompassing political manner, and realizes it by means of highly developed, consciously organized and sociated productive forces.

    From a casting of human being, history arises; from the lot sent by history, a casting of human being comes about. But it would be ahistorical to think that human being necessarily had to be posited for all time as a powerful, producing, needy, willing, subject-ive essence. What have we gained by these elaborations of Marx and Engels' early writings? They serve to illumine the background against which Heidegger speaks about alienation, communism, Marxism and producing.

    It should have become even clearer that Heidegger and Marx talk about alienation in completely different ways. Heidegger blots out this background - the phenomenality of capitalist economy. For him, economy reduces to producing, production, the poietic, and that primarily as a mode of unconcealing. In the Letter on 'Humanism' does Heidegger not want to go into economic matters and in particular into the question of property? Does he simply want to steer clear of highly explosive political topics current in his own day?

    Do such matters not lie on the path of the question of being, the only question that moves him? Are the social relations of production for him themselves a 'superstructural phenomenon' viewed from the deeper-lying 'basis' of a 'fundamental ontology', i. It does not suffice, of course, to refer to the fact that Heidegger did not have 'enough time' to consider such topics, an explanation which completely evades the issue for thinking facing us. If Heidegger makes do with laconic remarks and statements in referring explicitly to Marxism, we have to proceed indirectly and look at how Heidegger deals with economic issues in general.

    To this end it will be useful to reread the famous analysis of equipment in Being and Time. Heidegger's Analysis of Production in Being and Time In a certain sense, equipment forms a starting-point in Being and Time - it is the first kind of being subjected to an extended ontological analysis after the long expositions of the question of being and the task of a preparatory analysis of Dasein. Heidegger is concerned with the being of the beings initially encountered in the world as the first step in clarifying the structure of being-in-the-world.

    These initially encountered beings, practical things, are what is at-hand, whose at-handedness Heidegger endeavours to distinguish from mere presence-at-hand. Via equipment he grapples with the ontological determination of the worldliness of the world.

    Everyday manipulating, use and producing are put at the centre of analysis as ways of taking-care-of The analysis of equipment is headed A. The being of what is first encountered is to be determined. Their being consists in "being-good-for Marx would call this use-value: things are useful in everyday dealings. For his part, Heidegger puts producing in the foreground: " One piece of equipment refers to the next, and so on.

    What is striking is that Heidegger only talks of producing, of production and not of circulation, although they mutually depend on each other as Marx expounds at length in the introduction to the Grundrissen. How is circulation to be understood as a mode of being?

    Above all in relation to a particular piece of equipment, a special being encountered within the world, does something paradoxical become apparent when circulation is blanked out: Money is equipment that does not fit very well into the analysis of equipment. What is the being of money? If it is something at-hand, then its essence must lie in being-good-for For what can money be used, what is it good for? To buy things. Money is good for buying. Can buying be interpreted as a taking-care-of?

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    Buying is useful for, e. Meeting daily nutritional requirements is for the sake of maintaining Dasein's standard of living on a certain level, that is, for the sake of a possibility of its existence. SZ But buying is a very general taking-care-of Money-making and especially making-more-money are useful for something special which cannot be traced back or tied back to a for-the-sake-of Um-willen a possibility of Dasein's existence easily and perhaps not at all. Can money be produced? Can money take the position of the work, of what is primarily to be taken care of?

    If money cannot be produced, how can money be made? It has to be earned by selling something else, whether it be produced commodities, money capital, land or labour-power. Money is something at hand that cannot be something directly produced, but always mediated by some other taking-care-of Its for-what Wo-zu is, moreover, universal insofar as it can be used everywhere for purchasing vendibles. A reference to the entire world of commodities is essentially inherent in money. The world of commodities for its part, however, does not form a totality of being-useful-for Bewandtnisganzheit in the Heideggerian sense because the members of the commodity world are universal, equally valid, without a special link between one commodity and the next; what a particular commodity is good-for in use may be quite definite, but factually it is sold in trade and becomes thereby - in money - abstractly universal.

    The universality which is announced in the - actualized or potential - price of a commodity, to distinguish it from an "equipment network" Zeugzusammenhang SZ , can be called an exchange-value network. As vendible and with regard to their vendibility, the commodity for its owner is only a means to get money. The owner is indifferent to its particular being-good-for Heidegger talks about the commodity form only casually in referring to the "dozen commodity" today it would be more appropriate to speak of the thousand and million commodity, i.

    He is only interested in demonstrating that the reference to others is not lacking in the mass commodity, but is only "indefinite": it "points to arbitrary persons, the average" SZ In the reference to others, only the use-value being is addressed, not its exchange-value being, which refers to money. So that the commodity can become something at hand for its user, it must first strip off its particular being and be recognized universally in money. It has to make the transcendental leap from particularity to the abstract universality of money value-being before it can withdraw again into a domestic at-handness for the end-user.

    Every commodity has to go through the eye of the needle of money in order to achieve a realization of its at-handness. With being-good-for Every thing is, however, a "value-laden thing" SZ , not only in the sense addressed at this point by Heidegger, but in the completely prosaic sense that it has an exchange-value, a money value, a power to exchange. The referential structure of being-good-for This casting of being on the basis of at-handness allows the Heidegger of Being and Time to anchor the world in a for-the-sake-of-Dasein.

    Whatever is at hand is accessible to me in my dissociated, private world that is hardly the totality. Whatever is the property of others is not accessible to me and is therefore factually not a being at-hand for me even though it may show itself as something potentially at-hand. A mediation is required for a particular something to become factually at-hand for me and this mediation lies in the dimension of the value-being of things, i.

    Money is the universal means for making the mediation so that a being can step from the associated commodity-world into the dissociated, private circle of for-the-sake-of my Dasein. A dimension of exchange is thus introduced that posits a difference which goes through the being of beings, i. It is a sundering of abstractly associated universality from dissociated particularity borne by each commodity as a unity of exchange-value and use-value. In this commodity-being, their exchange- value-being, things are disclosed as offered in exchange for money Things at-hand can be lacking ontically and thus the referential network may be disturbed because there is a lack of the universal mediator of access to things, i.

    And money, in turn, could be lacking at the moment or in the long term because one does not have anything to sell that would be useful for others. The reference is 'disturbed' perhaps not in Dasein's circumspective view of the world, as if one did not know how things fit together, nor in a disturbed functionality, but factually in their accessibility, in the secured possibility of being able to put one's hands on the thing whereby its commodity-being or being-able-to-be-had-for-money lights up as such.

    The reference to others must therefore not only be understood on the basis of the usefulness of things say, for an indefinite number of possible users , as indicated above, but just as much on the basis of the possibility and actuality of exchange, i. So that what is at-hand can realize its being-good-for The seller must be able and willing to 'do without' it and therefore offer it for sale. Its being-good-for does not find any final point of return or recurrence in the seller, but rather the thing discloses itself primarily to the seller in its exchange-value-being, of being exchangeable, and thus as a use-value-for-others.

    What does this state of affairs mean, more precisely, ontologically, i. Not only are they useful for something in a totality of being-useful-for They are worth such-and-such an amount of money. Things are not only equipment but also value and in their value-being they are on sale for an anonymous buyer, at the buyer's disposal through the mediation of money. The being of things comprises not only their equipment-being at-handness but also their value-being vendibility , their power to exchange for the universal equivalent, money. Things reveal themselves of themselves as equipment and at the same time as value-things, as commodities, i.

    Heidegger's equipment analysis offers the opportunity of articulating the use-value of things better, because ontologically more adequately. For Marx, use-value is always also - apart from its primary character as a product of useful labour - the natural form, a collection of physical properties as the attributes of a substrate. Insofar - but only insofar - Marx's analysis of use-value is subject to the Heideggerian critique of the ontology of presence-at-hand Vorhandenheit. Marx's emphasis of the useful character of commodity-producing labour for practical living is sufficient, however, to make a link with Heidegger's determination of equipment as being-good-for Conversely, Heidegger's equipment-analysis proceeds as if Dasein were singular and not always already a plurality of many Dasein associated by definite social relations, to wit in this context, via the abstract associating of the exchange-values of commodities.

    The value-being of things in exchange puts itself beyond their being as equipment, their serviceability, etc. As things of value, they are uncoupled from a for-the-sake-of-Dasein and lead their own lives among themselves on the market. Trade with products, i. Marx calls this the inversion of the formula of simple commodity circulation into the general formula of capital, i. The inversion is only possible because of the double nature of commodity things as being concretely useful things on the one hand and abstract quantities of value on the other.

    The practical equating of all useful things as commodities on the market is a practical abstracting that ends inevitably in mere price-quantity. When people trade with each other, each person has their own interests in mind. For the dealer, the commodity is not a thing at-hand, but only a thing good for the customer whose needs are to be satisfied or desires enticed.

    The dealer must be interested in what the commodity is good for insofar as it concerns the customer, so that he, the dealer, can make his money. The use-value side is never of no consequence; the things must always be good for something. But here it is a matter of allowing the phenomenon of things, i. Heidegger underlines the at-handness of equipment as the way in which things are "discovered" in taking-care-of It must therefore be of interest how things, i. Heidegger criticizes ontology, especially Cartesian ontology, for grasping things on the basis of their presence-at-hand, thus "skipping over" the more originary phenomenon of at-handness, which is rooted in everyday practice.

    He demonstrates how the "theoretical", contemplative, "staring" grasp of things as beings present-at-hand, as substances with properties represents a derivative mode of appearance of things as opposed to the immediate openness and obviousness of at-handness. He thus locates the originary being of things, and their truth or disclosedness, in everyday practice, in prosaic, active taking-care-of How then are things accessible to Dasein's circumspective view? We have already said it above: they are not only useful things, equipment, but also value-things, commodities.

    With this, a social dimension of being-with-others is addressed, without however shifting from an equally originary 'ontological' level. The social dimension is not stocked up on top of a more substantial or originary dimension, whether it be that of traditional ontology, or whether it be that of a Heideggerian ontology of equipment. The at-handness of things that Heidegger now posits as originary is just as much an historico-social dimension of things as their commodity-being or value-being. But how does this value-being appear in everyday life?

    As property. The value-being of things in their universality is of course a modern phenomenon that has only arisen along with the emergence of the capitalist economic mode, of bourgeois society. That things universally have a value, a price, presupposes a long historical development in which the abstractness of money relations and markets relations has asserted itself against other social relations and has become globally ubiquitous.

    This does not mean however that value-being is not an originary phenomenon, just as little as the comparison between crude, ancient technology and modern, sophisticated technology presupposes precisely a sameness of ontological structure. The ontological positing of things in their double nature begins already in early Western history. Exchange among people, including in particular the exchange of material goods besides all the other customary social interchanges, is a ubiquitous, elementary form of sociation.

    Value is merely a modern, highly developed and abstract form of appearance of property relations under which things are universally available for sale. The value-being of things is only given on the foundation of private property relations, which individuate and dissociate owners. In earlier societies - and here only Western forms of society are of interest - property relations were different - something that does not concern us here - but at-handness and property were always equally open to sight, i.

    In particular, for the Greeks things were not only useful products but also commodities and this double nature was also taken up by the philosophical thinking of an Aristotle where it challenged thinking. To him the distinction between use-value and exchange-value originally can be attributed. An adequate ontological analysis of beings encountered "at first and for the most part" must therefore take this double determination of essence into consideration. In the introduction to the Grundrissen , Marx emphasizes that production cannot be analyzed in isolation from distribution, exchange and consumption because all four together form the moments of a totality that mutually interact.

    Distribution is just another name for property relations; it determines how the productive forces of a society are distributed among its members. In particular, distribution determines factual access to the means of production, the land and the product. In the things encountered everyday, there is always a reference to others, and that not merely with regard to those who will use them, but with regard to their owners and possessors. Apart from at-handness, there is in one and the same thing the 'belonging-ness', the 'propertied-ness', if a neologism is permitted.

    Each thing belongs to someone, and even a thing that is lost or without an owner is only a deficient mode of belonging-ness. Belonging-ness is just as open to view as at-handness, and indeed in the same way as the latter, i. In taking-care-of For the most part, these others are private individuals or entities, but public property, too, is covered by belonging-ness. Belonging-ness as a network of relations is co-discovered with the totality of being-useful-for of equipment, which allocates the various things to their respective owners or possessors.

    The world of property is open to view for the circumspective view of Dasein as a network of property relations. Practical action as the manipulation of things constitutes an essential component of being-in-the-world, so much so that Heidegger bases his first concept of world on it: the world is at first and for the most part a multi-layered network of references among equipment. But the world is at the same time and to the same extent a multi-layered network of property and exchange relations.

    Because producing is always already a social producing, it always takes place within definite property and exchange relations that Dasein has always already discovered a priori in dealing with its affairs. What consequences does this doubling of the essence of things into things at-hand and things belonging-to, that can only be brought into range as at-hand via exchange, have for Heidegger's analysis in Being and Time? In the third chapter of the first section, Heidegger is at pains to clarify the worldliness of the world on the background of a determination of Dasein as being-in-the-world and he achieves this aim by building up a conceptual structure around the pair of concepts "being-useful-for" Bewandtnis and "significance" Bedeutsamkeit , whereby the latter is interpreted in the context of a for-the-sake-of-Dasein.

    In the familiarity with these relations, Dasein 'signifies' to itself, it gives itself its being and potential for being with respect to its being-in-the-world to its understanding in an originary way. These relations are bracketed together among themselves as an originary totality; they are what they are as this significance, in which Dasein gives itself its being-in-the-world a priori to its understanding.

    It understands the world from the viewpoint of its taking-care-of Dasein thus has, in an ontologically originary sense, a pragmatic understanding of itself. There are two parts that have to be held apart and in relation to each other. Dasein's understanding of world is always an understanding of self , of course, not in a solipsistic or selfish sense, but in the sense of a sense for what is at hand. Pragmatism and self-relation complement each other. Together they allow Dasein an understanding of the world in which for Dasein it can be a matter of its potential for being, its being-able-to The self, practical action and understanding fit together in a determination of the openness of the world for Dasein.

    Dasein sees things in the light of acting, of dealing with things for the sake of its own existence. If however things are grasped not only on the basis of being-good-for The ownership and exchange relations which regulate access to things, so that they can also become factually at hand, are equally originary with pragmatic relations to things. The double nature of things encountered daily can be interpreted provisionally as at-handness and belonging-ness. This double nature, however, is not thematized in Being and Time , i. Even when in Being and Time Heidegger comes to talk expressly of economics, the dimension of things being commodities does not come into view: "The everyday connection of equipment at hand, its historical emergence, employment, its factual role in Dasein is the subject of the science of the economy.

    Things at hand do not have to lose their character as equipment in order to become the 'subject' of a science" SZ If now, however, commodity-being is taken into account, things show themselves from another aspect, namely from the aspect of their unavailability, an unavailability based on private property, or in other words, they reveal themselves in their restricted availability insofar as things, constantly at the beck and call of money, are available for sale.

    Because alien property belongs to someone else, this other person has control over it, and I do not; disposability is only mediated through being offered for sale. Here, as already sketched above, it is not a matter of a technical disturbance of the "referential network of utility", but a social disturbance, a barrier inherent in the structure of being-together-with-others.

    Unavailability as private property as such is a state of affairs that does not capture the essence of the value-being of things. Property has to be guided back to its essential grounding. To do this, something like a 'value-form analysis', i. As will become apparent below, in view of an even deeper insight into the essence of the gathering of the gainable called the gainful game or the win Gewinnst, Gewinn-Spiel , this deepening of insight into exchange-value will not be the final fathoming.

    Insofar as value itself becomes a self-moving automaton, a movement made possible by the reified nature of value as a social, sociating relation, the unavailability of things loses the illusory appearance that it is simply a matter of the exclusive distribution of things as private property among social subjects which could be eliminated by elevating distribution to a conscious social distribution, i. Therefore, let us once again turn to Marxian texts. Even the commodity form is mentioned only casually, at the point where Heidegger refers to the others who are co-present in the "multiple commodity" lit.

    The result of my production has in itself just as little relation to you as the result of your production has an immediate relation to me, i. MEW Erg. In commodity exchange, no mutual recognition of human being as needy takes place, but rather, each person sees in his or her own production only the equivalent of the other's product which he or she desires.

    One person does not produce for the sake of the other's needs, but in order to appropriate the other's product. In truth I produce another object, the object of your production, for which I intend to exchange this surplus [product ME], an exchange that I have already executed in thought.

    The social relation in which I stand towards you, my labour for your need is therefore also a mere illusion The exchange-value being of things is always already revealed and opened up a priori to understanding, otherwise no idea of an exchange, and no exchange could come about.

    The exchange is imagined in thinking that sets up images or representations before it is 'produced', or rather, brought about. The imagined exchange cannot however be brought about in the same way as the carpenter imagines a table that is to be produced, i. The carpenter's technical view is derived from knowledge about how to produce certain useful objects. This is not the case with exchange, which is a social process executed in the dimension of value-being that is open to understanding not as technical, but as commercial know-how, i.

    The price-determinate value of a thing, however, despite all the techniques of advertising, cannot be technically produced under the guidance of a previously sighted view, but turns out as a factual value in the exchange relation on the 'turnover-place', Umschlagplatz the market. The imagined value refers to a moment of non-producibility and the withdrawal of things insofar as things constitute their quantitatively determinate value among themselves in the money-mediated exchange relation with each other on the market. As commodities, things hold themselves back thus forming their own world, the commodity world with value-interrelations among themselves.

    Their value-being is both governed and quantitatively regulated by the money-form, a being and a form which, in line with the double nature of commodities, is completely disjunct from the neediness of people and human being in its neediness. It is in value-being itself and not in the exclusiveness of property relations , that the essential withdrawal holds sway.

    With these observations on value, however, we are anticipating the late Marx before having completed the review of the early Marx. We would not understand a human language, and it would remain without effect. It is a protest against inhuman, reified relations of sociation Vergesellschaftung in which the abstractness of private property negates the needy particularity of the individuals. Humans themselves do not have any value, but only their property. Humans themselves are thus mutually worthless. The commodity exchange relations deny human being cast as need-having; they are inhuman as long as and insofar as the human is posited as a needy-producing being.

    And this is the question with which we are now confronted: To what extent is such an historical casting of human being as a needy-producing being valid?

    Martin Heidegger

    Need and production are like opposite sides of a coin. The essential determination of production is the fulfilment of human need, and not, say, mere consumption or pleasure. For Marx, any divergence or worse: diremption of these opposite sides amounts to an alienation from genuinely social human being.

    Against this diremption, Marx posits an historical casting of a true in the sense authentic, genuine society in which a true mutual recognition of needy human being gains ascendancy in social intercourse, in which even love is granted a secured position in the intercourse of everyday life.

    To produce for each other as humans would mean, among other things, "to have been a mediator for you between you and the species, [ It is a community, a locus of being taken up into and protected by species-being, an overcoming of the splintering into egocentric individuals. When Heidegger in the Letter on 'Humanism' writes down a word such as 'alienation', he evokes at the same time the entire problematic of the young Marx, the problematic of true mutual recognition and estimation of subjects which is already announced in Hegel, albeit not in the form of a critique of the form of society, i.

    On the contrary, it is a realization of human freedom 6 as particularity if not singularity , which has to be elevated to a higher level and corrected in the state, not in such a way that it would be eliminated but rather realize the concept of freedom itself in accordance with reason. What, then, does it mean with respect to the critique of private property when Heidegger writes: "Because Marx, in experiencing alienation, reaches into an essential dimension of history The "essentiality of what is historical" lies for Heidegger in "being" ibid.

    Do the exchange relations that predominate in the bourgeois form of society entertain an essential relation with being? Are they a destiny sent by being? Is the value-being of things in its revealedness an historical destiny sent to human being? If exchange-value, i. Why does he then push "unconditional production" ibid. Did he overlook, perhaps even push something aside, out of view? Or did he overlook something and push it aside in order to see even more deeply - into being itself?

    It is striking that Heidegger picks out only one moment of the fourfold totality of production, distribution, exchange and consumption constituting the material reproduction of society. By contrast, Marx toils away for years on end to bring exchange relations in bourgeois society to their concept of value , a concept that will serve as the indispensable core concept for his social ontology of capitalism as a whole. As social practices, production and exchange have an equal weight for Marxian analysis, even though "in the final instance" production is supposed to be the decisive, determining moment.

    Marx is the first thinker in the Western tradition after Aristotle to undertake the task of analyzing philosophically, metaphysically in detail the form of social intercourse we call exchange or trade. Exchange, the buying and selling of commodities, is a kind of everyday taking-care-of But Aristotle had also already made a start with the analysis of the value-form, as Marx remarks MEWf , an analysis that obviously does not resonate significantly with Heidegger.

    Even though in his late writings Marx no longer speaks so enthusiastically of true, genuine humans in a state of non-alienation, and with relentless persistence develops the concepts for penetrating more deeply into existing capitalism on the basis of the value concept, it nevertheless remains detectable in what true human freedom consists for Marx, namely, in an "association of freely associated producers".

    On the basis of the structure of value concepts developed for the critique of political economy, the alienation problematic of the early writings is transformed into the problematic of fetishism in the late writings, whereby a decisive shift of emphasis takes place in the critique. No longer is it humans who are alienated from each other by private property, but rather, humans as a whole in their social being-together are removed from their own products as value-things; in the value-form of sociation, social labour has conquered an autonomous, reified realm in which it leads its own life and follows its own self-movement.

    In the excerpts from J. Mills' Elements of Political Economy , for instance, there are even passages that may be regarded as preliminary versions of a more detailed value-form analysis in Capital , where reference is even made to "equivalent" and "relative existence" with respect to private property MEW Erg. The shift in emphasis from the early to the late Marx does not consist therefore in the introduction of a completely new motif but first of all, in the disappearance of talk about untrue, alienated, inhuman humanity and true recognition and secondly, in the much more profound and conceptually grounding elaboration of the dialectics of the value-form from the simple value-form to the money form in the later writings on the critique of political economy, in which the value concept becomes the express foundation of a systematically elaborated and connected ontological theory of the capitalist mode of production.

    This value-form analytical theory allows Marx to unveil, decipher and fathom the fetishism that inheres in autonomized money and the further-developed value-forms such as money-capital, interest-bearing capital, capitalized ground-rent so that what appears as properties of things essentially: money is traced back to dissociated productive activity and its as-sociation in relations of mutual valuing. Reified social relations are uncovered and thus made fluid again in thinking with the intention of critical enlightenment. Can the value-being of commodities really be deciphered as the mystified form of social labour in such a way that there were an historical prospect 7 of guiding fetishized products in the direction of transparently socialized products?

    Or does the value-being of commodities refer instead to a withdrawal of beings in their being from any producibility and conscious social control by socialized humans? These questions represent an interface between Marxian and Heideggerian thinking which come down to a question concerning value-being as an historical destiny of being, a question that will be taken up again up below. To anticipate: whereas Marx , starting with his casting of human being as needy and productive, tried to determine the value-being of commodities quantitatively by tying it back to the quantity of "socially necessary labour-time" in a commodity, the removal of this metaphysical positing of ground in labour implies that the value-being of commodities represents a groundless, non-manipulable magnitude which 'shows up' in the openness of being-together in a play of mutually estimating, valuing exchange.

    What does this transformation of the alienation problematic from early to late Marxian thinking signify? It is no longer the mutual worthlessness of humans for each other as humans that is emphasized and appears as a violation of human being in the late Marx, such emphatically humanistic passages cannot be found. Does private property for the late Marx - and in general represent a distortion of the true community - presupposing that the 'true community' is a tenable critical category?

    If at all, then not as such, but only derivatively, for it is reified value and not private property and the associated mutual exclusion of possession of the products that now stands at the centre of the labour of critique. Private property is only the mode of appearance of something more essential, more originary: it is a mode of appearance of value which, in the form of appearance of money, reigns over the commodity world like a king and puts its seal on the diremption of universal social from particular, dissociated interests.

    According to Marx, this king is to be disempowered in order to harmonize individual needs of life with a universal, collective, consciously controlled and organized being-in-the-world. Would genuine mutual recognition of humans result from this disempowerment? Would their essential neediness then gain full social recognition and satisfaction?

    Would a satisfied and therefore peaceful essencing of humankind thus come about? In this casting of communism it is as if the opposed striving of humans against each other in competitive society had been overcome and a genuine being-for-each-other, a social solidarity and appreciative mutual estimation had stepped into its place.

    It is as if the resistance of the other had disappeared, at least insofar as private property inevitably brings forth opposed interests. The exclusivity of private property compels each individual to fend for him or herself, compels each individual to assert him or herself in the struggle for existence, whereas the mutual social recognition of neediness is supposed to eliminate this antagonistic opposition. In favour of an harmonious distribution of social wealth? Would the overcoming of the value-form and thus the 'just', conscious distribution of material goods really signify an elimination of social antagonism and the foundation for a realization of fraternity?

    Is such a vision compatible with an historical possibility for human being? Viewed from the standpoint of the value problematic, does the struggle for existence in competition represent an alienation of human being, a violation of its innermost essence or rather its realization? The answer depends on the historical casting of human being itself.

    For it seems that the historical casting of humans as needy beings posits their essence as too 'low', too 'simple', too 'modest'. Are humans concerned essentially with their own needs, as seems to have been the case in part in 'real, existing socialism', or rather with their desires? Does not human being always already reach beyond itself, and especially beyond the horizon of so-called needs of life? Is this reaching beyond not already indicated by the well-known phenomenon of corruption in real, existing socialist bureaucracies?

    The concept of need includes a reference to a natural moment, to what humans absolutely need to live: something to eat, clothing and protection against bad weather. Even if, starting from these basic needs, further 'social' needs are stacked up on top in the course of 'democratic' disputation and conflict, such as the 'need' for education or for public transportation, the casting of human being on the basis of need and neediness remains in the dimension of moderation, of setting up a familiar, homely world.

    The suggestively 'natural' category of need is already questionable insofar as human needs are only such within the practices, customs, usages of social living. From such customary usages as "second nature" Hegel arise the corresponding needs, and not conversely. The 'need' to eat fried locusts, whale meat or pork, for instance, or to dab on certain fragrances or wear certain kinds of robes or head-dress exists only in such societies that customarily practise the corresponding culinary or cosmetic usages. And when certain usages are cultivated as signs of social status, i.

    Desire, in contrast to need, always includes an excessive, unbounding, disinhibiting element; it always overshoots what is moderate; it does not allow itself to be quenched by the satisfaction of needs and is to this extent voracious. Desire cannot be comprehended as stocked up on top of basic needs, as a kind of superstructure on the basis or foundation of more basic 'natural' needs, since the limits have always already been transcended in the desire of human being.

    For desire, need is nothing, secondary, unimportant. Desire casts humans out of their habitual, quotidian ruts in taking care of daily concerns, and gives them a drive, no matter what the cost. With this, the motif of desire, of the uncanny unbounding of human being announces itself for the first time. It will occupy our attention further because it puts the Marxian casting of human being as need-having into question.

    At this point, with regard to Heidegger, I first want to address the significance of this topic for the equipment analysis. Namely, it is no accident that in the equipment analysis, Heidegger speaks of simple tools such as the hammer and the self-evident for-the-sake-of Even though Heidegger develops a language in Being and Time that differs from that of metaphysics, Dasein's taking-care-of It is only for this reason that the equipment analysis and the use-value side of the Marxian commodity analysis so easily can be made consonant with each other.

    However, already in Being and Time , Heidegger signals very clearly a break with the casting of human being from the standpoint of need-satisfaction by declaring everyday taking-care-of Even though the distinction between authenticity and inauthenticity is hard to pin down, it can nevertheless be understood as an indication that even early on, Heidegger is concerned with an excessive element, that is to say, with a transcendent, ek-static, self-casting essence of the human, with the uncanny, unhomely relation of the human being to being itself which, as in the fundamental, uncanny mood of anxiety, tears human beings out of their habitual quotidian lives.

    This is a point where one could demonstrate that from the very beginning, Heidegger had gone far beyond Marx, that the question of being bursts the somewhat complacent, modest casting of human being as needy once and for all and unmasks it as inadequate, as stiflingly conformist.