Deep ecology and Heideggerian phenomenology

Deep ecology and Heideggerian phenomenology

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Deep ecology and Heideggerian phenomenology
Antolick, Matthew
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[Tampa, Fla.]
University of South Florida
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Deep ecology -- Philosophy ( lcsh )
Phenomenology ( lcsh )
self realization
environmental ethics
Dissertations, Academic -- Philosophy -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: This thesis examines the connections between Arne Naess's Deep Ecology and Martin Heidegger's Phenomenology. The latter provides a philosophical basis for the former. Martin Heidegger's critique of traditional metaphysics and his call for an "event" ontology that is deeper than the traditional substance ontology opens a philosophical space in which a different conception of what it is to be emerges. Heidegger's view of humans also provides a basis for the wider and deeper conception of self Arne Naess seeks: one that gets rid of the presupposition that human beings are isolated subjects embedded in a framework of objects distinct from them. Both Heidegger and Naess illustrate how the substance-ontological dogma affects human culture, encouraging humans to live as if they were divorced from their environmental surroundings. When humans live according to an atomistic conception of themselves as independent from their context, alienation results, not only from each other, and not only of humans from the surrounding environment, but from themselves as well. This thesis focuses on Heidegger's employment of the conception of poiesis or self-bringing-forth as clarifying the "root" of such ecosystemic processes as growth, maturation, reproduction, and death. Thus, Heidegger's call to phenomenology -- "to the things themselves" -- is a call away from the objectifying dichotomies through which substance ontology articulates the world into isolated components. It is the purpose of this thesis to demonstrate not only the connections between the later Heidegger and Naess, but also to argue in favor of their claims that traditional philosophical perspectives regarding humans, the environment, and ethics need to be re-appropriated in a new way in order to avoid further ecological degradation and provide for the health and well being of the future generations that will inevitably inherit the effects of our present actions.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2003.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Matthew Antolick.

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Deep ecology and Heideggerian phenomenology
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by Matthew Antolick.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2003.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 90 pages.
ABSTRACT: This thesis examines the connections between Arne Naess's Deep Ecology and Martin Heidegger's Phenomenology. The latter provides a philosophical basis for the former. Martin Heidegger's critique of traditional metaphysics and his call for an "event" ontology that is deeper than the traditional substance ontology opens a philosophical space in which a different conception of what it is to be emerges. Heidegger's view of humans also provides a basis for the wider and deeper conception of self Arne Naess seeks: one that gets rid of the presupposition that human beings are isolated subjects embedded in a framework of objects distinct from them. Both Heidegger and Naess illustrate how the substance-ontological dogma affects human culture, encouraging humans to live as if they were divorced from their environmental surroundings. When humans live according to an atomistic conception of themselves as independent from their context, alienation results, not only from each other, and not only of humans from the surrounding environment, but from themselves as well. This thesis focuses on Heidegger's employment of the conception of poiesis or self-bringing-forth as clarifying the "root" of such ecosystemic processes as growth, maturation, reproduction, and death. Thus, Heidegger's call to phenomenology -- "to the things themselves" -- is a call away from the objectifying dichotomies through which substance ontology articulates the world into isolated components. It is the purpose of this thesis to demonstrate not only the connections between the later Heidegger and Naess, but also to argue in favor of their claims that traditional philosophical perspectives regarding humans, the environment, and ethics need to be re-appropriated in a new way in order to avoid further ecological degradation and provide for the health and well being of the future generations that will inevitably inherit the effects of our present actions.
Adviser: PhD., Charles Guignon
Deep ecology
x Philosophy.
Heidegger, Martin,
d 1889-1976
Criticism and interpretation.
Nss, Arne
Criticism and interpretation.
self realization.
environmental ethics.
Dissertations, Academic
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
sv 6/16/03
4 856


DEEP ECOLOGY AND HEIDEGGERIAN PHENOMENOLOGY by MATTHEW ANTOLICK A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Philosophy College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Charles Guignon, Ph.D. Stephen Turner, Ph.D. Joanne Waugh, Ph.D. Date of Approval: August 20, 2002 Keywords: Environmental Ethics, Heidegger, Naess, Phenomenology Copyright 2003 Matthew Antolick


i Table of Contents Abstract ii Chapter One: Heidegger’s Phenomenology 1 A. Technology What is the Essence of Technology? 1 Technology as a Mode of Revealing 5 Enframing [Ges-tell] 10 B. The Thing and Uniform Distancelessness 15 C. The Thing and Dwelling 18 The Fourfold 20 Dwelling 21 Staying/Gathering/Bringing Near 22 Man as the “shepherd” of Being 23 D. Responding and Releasement 24 Chapter Two: Deep Ecology 28 A. Introduction 28 B. The Ethical Landscape of Deep Ecology 33 C. Deep Ecology and Technology 38 D. The Eight Point Platform 44 E. Deep Self and Self-Realization 54 Chapter Three: Deep Ecology and Heideggerian Phenomenology 59 A. The Ontological Transformation 59 B. Ereignis 64 C. Event Ontology and Ethics 71 D. Poiesis 73 E. Releasement 79 References 84


ii Deep Ecology and Heideggerian Phenomenology Matthew Antolick ABSTRACT This thesis examines the connections between Arne Naess’s Deep Ecology and Martin Heidegger’s Phenomenology. The latt er provides a philosophical basis for the former. Martin Heidegger’s critique of trad itional metaphysics and hi s call for an ‘event’ ontology that is deeper than the traditi onal substance ontology opens a philosophical space in which a different conception of what it is to be emerges. Heidegger’s view of humans also provides a basis for the wider and deeper conception of self Arne Naess seeks: one that gets rid of the presuppositi on that human beings are isolated subjects embedded in a framework of objects distinct from them. Both Heidegger and Naess illustrate how the substance-ontological dogma affects human culture, encouraging hum ans to live as if they were divorced from their environmental surroundings. When humans liv e according to an atomistic conception of themselves as independent from their context, alienation results, not only from each other, and not only of humans from the surr ounding environment, but from themselves as well. This thesis focuses on Heidegger’s employment of the conception of poiesis or self-bringing-forth as clarif ying the “root” of such ecosyst emic processes as growth,


iii maturation, reproduction, and death. Thus, He idegger’s call to phenomenology – “to the things themselves” – is a call away from the objectifyi ng dichotomies through which substance ontology articulates the world into isolated components. It is the purpose of this thesis to dem onstrate not only the connections between the later Heidegger and Naess, but also to argue in favor of their clai ms that traditional philosophical perspectives rega rding humans, the environment, and ethics need to be reappropriated in a new way in order to avoi d further ecological de gradation and provide for the health and well being of the future generations that will inevitably inherit the effects of our present actions.


1 Chapter One: Heidegger’s Phenomenology A. Technology What is the Essence of Technology? Heidegger’s analysis of technology is not a simple examination of technological method. It is a phenomenology of the technol ogical mode of being. His phenomenology always strives for deeper probing. Deeper probing focuses on a que stion in a questioning manner. In the Introduction to Metaphysics, the question is: “why are there beings at all instead of nothing?”1 In The Question Concerning Technology, it is: what is the essence of technology? Although the question is not ex plicitly formulated as such, it constitutes the focus of the essay. In the first paragraph of QCT, Heide gger speaks of questioning in general. “Questioning builds a way. We would be advise d, therefore, above all to pay heed to the way, and not to fix our attention on isolated sentences and topics. The way is a way of thinking.”2 The goal of such questioning is what he calls a “free rela tionship”: one that allows the human essence to open itse lf to the essence of technology. It is important to note that the questi on (of both IM and QCT) can be read in at least two ways. The direction of the question – what it is asking will be taken in accordance with the comportment of the questi oner. A logical positivist, for instance, 1 Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics (New Haven, Yale Univer sity Press, 2000). 1 2 Martin Heidegger, The Question Concer ning Technology (New York, Harper and Row, 1997) 3


2 will focus on the clear-cut facts of the question, wh ile tending to dismiss questions of value as a completely differe nt type of enterprise. We must start where we are, and be content, in the meantime, with clear-cut answers but not too content. We can note for starte rs that the quest ion “what is the essence of technology” can also be read in a way that “transcends” (a better way of putting it is perhaps “probes beneath”) a typi cal positivist reading. Whether or not the question is a deeper probing is not a matter of changing wo rds or syntax within the question’s explicit formulation. It is a matter of comportm ent: a mode of seeing or an angle from which one reads or sees. What is it to “probe bene ath positivism?” First we should ask: is this what Heidegger intends? It appears to provide an answer as to why Heidegger, when speaking of questioning, simultaneously urges the reader not to get hung up on isolated details. He seems to be making an implicit claim: genuine questioning is blocked by such a focus. Secondly, is positivism equivalent to the technological mode of being? The answer to this question could constitute an essay in itself, and we’ve not the room for it here. But we can for now note a strong similarity between positivism and technological thinking: The positivist comportmen t could be characterized as an urge fix and resolve the issue, making it precise and testable. Clear-cut precision means to be free from confusion and ambiguity. Technology, too, cer tainly involves an increase of calculation over indefiniteness, and a dislike of ambiguity. One might ask at this poi nt: is “freedom” freedom from the ambiguous? From mystery? Both positivism and technologi cal thinking share a co mmon tendency toward clear-cut answers and pre-ordered knowledge frameworks. And Heidegger, in QCT,


3 states that “Everywhere we remain unf ree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it.”3 Putting what has been said so far together, it seems we cannot close the issue so quickly. We must remain with the question for the time being: “Is freedom from ambiguity really freedom?” We as modern Americans tend to answ er this question in the affirmative. Heidegger saw the technological quantificati on of everything as a “will to mastery” which “becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.”4 Control, mastery, clear-cut-rigidity, pr e-formed knowledge frameworks: all are strands in the web called “t echnological mastery.” Tec hnology appears to be about human power, but over what? A basic answer is: power over being thwarte d. Perhaps this is too basic. A more detailed answer is: power over anything that disrupts human means-end activity. As means-end activity, technology is “instrumenta l.” Heidegger says “the instrumental definition of technology is so correct that it even holds for modern technology,” in addition to the “old, handiwork technology.” This answer is obviously deeper than “calculators and computers.” Bu t it is not the deepest. Again and again throughout his philos ophical career, Heidegge r returns to the theme of multiple possibilities – possible readin gs, possible paradigms. This is true not only for QCT alone, but for the entire range of his writings, from Being and Time to The Anaximander Fragment to The Principle of Reason to Gelassenheit and beyond. It takes various forms. 3 Ibid. 4 4 Ibid. 5


4 We see this play of possib ilities at an early point in QCT. Heidegger claims the instrumental definition of technology is “correct,” but not necessarily true : that there is a difference. But suppose now that technology were no me re means, how would it stand with the will to master it? Yet we said, did we not, that th e instrumental definition of technology is correct? To be sure. The correct always fixes upon something pertinent in whatever is under consideration. However, in order to be correct, this fixing by no means needs to uncover the thing in question in its essence. Only at the point where such an uncovering happens does the true come to pass. For that reason the merely correct is not yet the true.5 Although there is indeed a difference between correctness and truth, this difference is not dichotomous: there is not an absolute distinction. Correctness is connected with truth, albeit derivatively. The realization of the deri vative nature of the “correct” brings with it a real ization that there is more th an one possible way of reading and understanding “correctness.” It is easy to fall into the same mistaken gaze on the “what” rather than upon “that” which brings the “what” to presence. Obvi ously, this “that which brings to presence” cannot be any particular what We started with a fairly straightforward question “what is the essence of technology?” – and have seemingly stumbled into a discussion of multiple-possible readings. We rightfully ask, with Heidegger, “But where have we strayed to?”6 Are we off track? What is it to be on track? If to be “ on track” is to be “correct,” then not only do we al ready have an answer to th is question, but we can also get a hint as to the correctness-seeking compor tment from which such a question springs. In turn, our position right he re and now in this examination of Heidegger’s take on technology sheds light not only on his clai m, cited above, that “questioning builds a 5 Ibid. 5-6 6 Ibid. 12


5 way” and that we should “pay heed” to it, but also on Heidegger’s statement, slightly later in QCT, that “So long as we do not al low ourselves to go into these questions, causality, and with it instrume ntality, and with the latter the accepted definition of technology, remain obscure and groundless.”7 What remains “obscure” if we do not allow ourselves these questions? The answer to this question is the answer to “w hat is the essence of technology?” We can thus make a preliminary statement to help us on the way: correctness is something different from (but not u tterly separate from) truth It seems we could circle about forever. But if with our questioning we are indeed building a way, as Heidegger says, then we must somehow manage to keep pushing forward. But Heidegger also says th at what we are actually after is a return This type of questioning requires something of that resoluteness of which Heidegger speaks so pervasively in Being and Time. So many questions; nonetheless we must ask another: towards “what” is this “way” leading which is being constructed by us in our questioning comportment? Technology as a Mode of Revealing “What technology is,” says Heidegger, “when represented as a means, discloses itself when we trace instrumentality back to fourfold causality.”8 Of fourfold causality, he states “they differ from one anot her, yet they belong together.”9 We are questioning concer ning technology, and we have arrived now at aletheia, at revealing. What has the essence of technology to do with revealing? The answer: everything. For ever y bringing-forth is grounded in revealing. Bringing7 Ibid. 7 8 Ibid. 6 9 Ibid. 8


6 forth, indeed, gathers within itself the f our modes of occasioning – causality – and rules them throughout. Within its doma in belong ends and means, belong instrumentality. Instrumentality is consider ed to be the fundame ntal characteristic of technology. If we inquire step by st ep, into what technol ogy, represented as means, actually is, then we shall arrive at revealing. The possibility of all productive manufacturi ng lies in revealing… Technology is therefore no mere means. Technology is a way of revealing .10 Technology, as instrument al (and causal) is a bringing-forth That is, technology is a way of bringing things to presence in an instrument al (means-ends) manner. But such bringing-forth is not merely instrumental. All bringing -forth, says Heidegger, is “ poiesis, ”11 through which “the growing things of nature as well as whatever is completed through the crafts and the arts come at any given time to their appearance.”12 Within the questioning span betw een causality and revealing [ aletheia ] Heidegger progresses through a trail of concepts: 1) Legein – “to consider carefully ” which, he claims13, has its roots in aphophainesthai – “to bring forward into appearance”14; 2) Hypokeisthai – “lying before and lying ready” – as that for which the four causes, as four ways of being res ponsible, are responsible, insofar as such characterizes “the presencing of something that presences”15; 3) Ver-an-lassen – “an occasioning or inducing to go forward” of something “into its complete arrival”16; which leads to 4) Physis – “the arising of something from out of itself” which is also a “bringing 10 Ibid. 12; my emphasis 11 This altered spelling will be maintained throughout this thesis. It is spelled this way (with the added ‘i’), in order to distinguish it, as a concept, from the merely poetic Whereas poetry is a way of bringing forth, it is something done by humans, and is thus a mode of techne or aided bringing forth, as Julian Young puts it in his excellent work Heidegger’s Later Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, 2002. See especially pages 37-44, where Young charts two “kinds” of poiesis, namely phusis and techne. Taking this model as a conceptual ground, poetry as it is regularly understood appears as derivative of poiesis When speaking of poiesis in this paper, poetry will be used (differentiated by italics) whereas ‘poetry’ will accord with the usual definition of the word. 12 Ibid. 10-11 13 Heidegger’s etymological adventures, not to mention his historical-conceptual tracings, are far from controversial. See especially Paul Friedlander’s Plato, Vol. I, (New York, Pantheon Books, 1958). 14 Ibid. 8 15 Ibid. 9 16 Ibid.


7 forth, poesis.”17 The revealing, then, of which technol ogy is a mode, is a bringing-forth which “comes to pass only insofar as something unconcealed comes into unconcealment.”18 Heidegger then produces a genealogy of the word “technology,” tracing it to the Greek technikon, and techne which he says is “the name…f or the activities and skills of the craftsman,” as well as “for the arts of th e mind and the fine arts.” As such, says Heidegger, techne “belongs to bringing-forth, to poiesis. ” Thus, “ techne is a mode of aletheuein .”19 It is here that Heidegger, in his appa rent straying from th e (main) question of technology, is found to have been “on track” all along, when he writes of techne : It reveals whatever does not bring itself forth and does not yet lie here before us, whatever can look and turn out now one way and now another. Whoever builds a house or a ship or forges a sacrificial ch alice reveals what is to be brought forth, according to the perspectives of the four modes of occasioning. This revealing gathers together in advance the aspect and the matter of ship or house, with a view to the finished thing envisioned as comple ted, and from this gathering determines the manner of its construction. Thus what is decisive in techne does not lie at all in making and manipulating, nor in the using of means, but rather in the aforementioned revealing. It is as revealing, and not as manufacturing, that techne is a bringing forth.20 According to Heidegger, it is only by focusing on technology as a mode of revealing that the essence of modern technol ogy will show itself to us. It will not do merely to ground the human employment of mo dern apparatus in scientific method. Modern science, in turn, would not be what it is if not for the use of such apparatus, but we could just as easily reverse the di rection of this attempted grounding. The relationship between science and technology is rather a mutual one: this is what gives 17 Ibid. 10 18 Ibid. 11 19 Ibid. 13 20 Ibid. 13; my emphasis


8 modern technology its distincti on. With fourfold causality, we do much better to ask: what unites them from the beginning? The question streamlines our inquiry. The poet and the technician or maker bot h reveal. But they are different – though not absolutely. Whereas the poet reveals in a manner that allows “the arising of something from out of itself,” the latter, according to Heidegger, reveals in a manner that challenges – that is, “The revealing that rule s in modern technol ogy is a challenging [ Herausforden ], which puts to nature the unreasona ble demand that it supply energy that can be extracted and stored as such.”21 Such challenging, he calls an “expediting” [Fordern] – a “driving on to the maxi mum yield at the minimum expense.”22 Here we arrive at Heidegger’s distinction between the windmill whose sails “turn in the wind” but “are left en tirely to the wind’s blowing,”23 and the hydroelectric plant on the Rhine through which “the Rhine itself appears as something at our command” – “a water power supplier” whose essence derives not from the river, but “out of the essence of the power station.”24 He makes a similar distincti on between the peas ant farmer who “places the seed in the keeping of the for ces of growth and watches over its increase”25 and a tract of land which is mined for ore thr ough which “the earth now reveals itself as a coal mining district.”26 The windmill and the peasant farmer allow that which presences to come forth from itself just as it is in itself. The t ypical human-centered focus on the matter offers a picture of the wind as a mere means to human ends. Here, human intentionality is the 21 Ibid. 14 22 Ibid. 15 23 Ibid. 14 24 Ibid. 16 25 Ibid. 15 26 Ibid. 14


9 cause and driving force of th e action, whereas, in the more poetic sense of bringing forth, the wind remains wind, and the peasant farm er plants and harvests according to the seasons, “in keeping with the forces of natu re.” In contrast, the mining operation and the power plant cause earth and rive r to be revealed as somethi ng other than that which each is, respectively, in itself – that is, as solely a thing of use for human beings. Heidegger calls these latter modes of re vealing “standing reserve”: What kind of unconcealment is it, then, th at is peculiar to th at which comes to stand forth through this setting-upon that challenges? Everywhere everything is ordered to stand by, to be immediately at hand, indeed to stand there just so it may be on call for further ordering. Whatever is ordered about in this way has its own standing. We call it the standing-reserve [Bestand]. The name standing reserve assumes the rank of an inclusive rubric. It designates nothing less than the way in which everything presences that is wrought upon by the challenging revealing. Whatever stands by in the sense of sta nding reserve no longer st ands over against us as object.27 What does it mean for something to no longer stand “over-against us as an object”? Something that stands “over against” us has its own standing. But, as standing reserve, it “has its standing only fr om the ordering of the orderable.”28 Characteristic of the technological mode is a blurring of the di stinction between “order ed” and “existent.” A mode of thinking comes to pass in which things as revealed through human ordering are taken to be things as they are in themselv es. The process of orde ring is forgotten: we forget that we see things in an ordered fashi on because they have been ordered by human beings according to instrumental value schemes. But if ordering as standing reserve is a mode of technology, and technology is a mode of revealing is not standing reserve, too, a mode of revealing? 27 Ibid. 17 28 Ibid.


10 Standing can be seen as an effect29 of challenging forth. As such, it too involves an “unreasonable demand.” But what is the reason that this demand opposes in order to be called “unreasonable?” We know it is not reason in the typical sense of rational ordering. The predominance of such ordering, in fact, is what characterizes standing reserve as “unreasonable” in the first place. Enframing [ Ge-stell ] The “reason” at work here is, perhaps, “reason” in the sense of harmony and balance: the growth cycles of plants, th e waxing and waning of the moon, the progression and recession of tides, the beating of the hear t. Natural things in themselves, when we pay attention to them, are found to have an order of their own: not one simply imposed upon them by human imagination. A farmer can sc ream at his corn to grow faster, but he must ultimately yield to seasonal growth patterns. These points surely deserve more explanation, but we leave them for the time being. Heidegger is questioning technology precisely because the modern technological mode of being does not comply with such natural “reasonable” rhythms and cycles. Instead, technology “challenges” na ture out of phase with natu ral cycles. But Heidegger is clear about the fact that such setting-upon does not deri ve strictly from technology. Technology is a mode of revealing, of poiesis. As such, this setting upon is not a strictly human doing, for to say such would be to assume a causal framework in which humans are the source of that rev ealing – the very thought pattern that Heidegger sees as problematic of the technol ogical mode of thinking. 29 We say “effect,” because the technological/instrumental of thinking employs means-ends frameworks within which the words “cause” and “effect” have their meaning. Causality takes place within a concealment of the poetic


11 Just as (and perhaps because) setting upon cannot be derived from technology, so too, neither can it be derived solely from human activity. Although technology “is a means to an end” and “a human activity” and th ese two belong together, revealing reveals itself as something more primordial. Technology and means-end human activity are modes of revealing, not the ot her way around (in the terms of which is more primordial). Man does not reveal out of his own selfactivity. Revealing occurs through, but not out of, man, viz. as an effect of whic h man is the cause. Nevertheless, something takes place in the tec hnological shift from poetic self-revealing to challenging (and the resulting standing reserve) This “something” is Ge-stell [Enframing]: “that challenging claim which gathers man thither to order the self-revealing as standing-reserve.”30 Enframing means the gathering together of that setting-upon which sets upon man, i.e. challenges him forth, to reveal the real, in the mode of ordering, as standing reserve. Enframing means that way of revealing which holds sway in the essence of modern technology and is itsel f nothing technological. On the other hand, all those things that are so familia r to us and are standard parts of an assembly, such as rods, pistons, and cha ssis, belong to the technological. The assembly itself, however, together with the aforementioned stockparts, falls within the sphere of te chnological activity; and this activity always merely responds to the challenge of Enfr aming itself or brings it about.31 Heidegger is careful to distinguish be tween mere technological things and the technological activity out of which such “thi ngs” come to be. We are not to assume rational order as a primordially accurate reading of “the way things are.” To do so is to forget Heidegger’s analysis of the original meanings of phusis, aletheia, and poiesis meanings that presuppose a mysterious openness that calculative thinking in the instrumental thought mode automatically rules out (or attempts as much as possible to diminish) And yet, this ordering is a result of a setting-upon that challenges humans to 30 Ibid. 19 31 Ibid. 20-21


12 reveal things as part of an pre-ordered structur e. We note briefly that this is the original meaning of Ge-stell : a bookrack, a skeleton, scaffolding. But Heidegger sees multiplepossible ways of reading this concept. The meanings of Ge-stell just listed are all noun forms. Heidegger is questioning beneath isol ated sentences and topics, which means he is questioning beneath the isolated elements of which dictionary definitions are made. He is seeking to get at the ac tivity invoked through this word – and not only the word, of course, but the phenomena to which it points. Challenging is, of course, something done – but by what (or whom)? The word stellen [to set upon] in the name Ge-stell [Enframing] not only means challenging. At the same time, it shoul d preserve the suggestion of another Stellen from which it stems, namely, that producing and presenting [ Her und Dar stellen ] which, in the sense of poiesis lets what presences come forth into unconcealment. This producing that brings forth – e.g., the erecting of a statue in the temple precinct, and the challengi ng-ordering now under consideration are indeed fundamentally different, and yet they remain related in their essence. Both are ways of revealing, of aletheia. In Enframing, that unconcealment comes to pass in conformity with which the work of modern technology reveals the real as standing-reserve. This work is ther efore neither only a human activity nor a means within such activity…It remains true, nonetheless, that man in the technological age is, in a particularly striking way, challenged forth into revealing.32 Enframing “should preserve the suggestion of another Stellen” – poiesis (as letting be) – but it does not. It rather “banishes man into th at kind of revealing which is an ordering.” Such ordering “drives out ever y other possibility of revealing,” and, says Heidegger, “Above all, Enframing conceals that revealing which, in the sense of poiesis, lets what presences come forth into appearance.”33 Self-revealing gets concealed and renamed as a human-activity within a calculable order. Such order is the realm within 32 Ibid. 21 33 Ibid. 27


13 which, mentioned above, “Whatever stands by in the sense of standi ng reserve no longer stands over against us as object.” As soon as what is unconcealed no longer concerns man even as object, but does so, rather, exclusively as standing reserve, and man, in the midst of objectlessness, is nothing but the orderer of the standing reserve, then he comes to the very brink of a precipitous fall; that is, he comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-reserve. Meanwhile man, precisely as the one so threatened, exalts himself to the posture of lord of the earth. In this way the impression comes to prevail that everythi ng man encounters exists only insofar as it is his construct. This illusion gives ri se to one final delusion: it seems as though man everywhere and always encounters only himself… In truth, however, presicely nowhere does man today any longe r encounter himself, i.e. his essence. [QCT 27] This is a rich passage. Particularly interesting is where Heidegger locates anthropocentrism: precisel y at the “point” where poetic bringing-forth into the selfstanding of the object as object no longer concerns humans. He thus implicitly locates a direct connection between the concealment of poetic bringing forth and the selfexaltation of human beings to “lord of the earth ” status. This latter it seems safe to say, is also a form of concealment. There is thus a direct correspondence between the concealment of poetic bringing-forth and anthropocentrism. But, again, technology does not cause this anthropocentris m. Technology is a mode of revealing. The key to understa nding this tendency of humans to exalt themselves as “lords of the earth” has to do, rather, with the co mportment through which they employ technological methods, a comportm ent that conceals the original mode of revealing that gives rise, through poetic self-arising, to humans, their ideas, and their employment. That “all of this” is a human doing, says Heidegger, is an “ impression that comes to prevail,” [my emphasis], not an apprehension of things as they are in themselves. Such apprehensions can come abou t, if at all, only through an understanding


14 of the essence of technology as poiesis It is for this reason that Heidegger makes a distinction between technology and its essence. It is important also to note that this concealment is not just a concealment by humans of the nature of self-revealing poiesis Insofar as poiesis is the essence of all bringing-forth, it is also the essence of concealment. Heidegger says “the challenging Enframing not only conceals a former way of revealing, bringing-forth, but it conceals revealing itself and with it that wherein unconcealment, i.e. truth, comes to pass.”34 This is, then, a double-concealment for the same reason that t echnology is not something done solely out of human activity, but, rather, something that occurs through humans. The occurrence of a double-concealment is possible on the basis of poiesis as the essence of concealment. Heidegger also brings notice to the conn ection between Enframing as an orderingrevealing and modern scientif ic theorization which “pursues and entraps nature as a calculable coherence of forces.”35 But the ambiguity remains: who or what challenges, entraps, and pursues? Perhap s the only proper answer is that it is essentially not a “who” or a “what” that does so. The closest answ er we gain from the above-cited passage is, again, poiesis. We want an answer to our “who?” and “what,” and (no wonder) it seems Heidegger does not give us one, except pe rhaps to ask “Does this revealing happen somewhere beyond all human doing?” and an swer “No. But neither does it happen exclusively in man, or decisively through man.”36 34 Ibid. 27 35 Ibid. 21 36 Ibid. 24


15 B. The Thing and Uniform Distancelessness In order to attain a better grasp of what Heidegger attempts to reveal in QCT, it helps to concentrate on something that has co me up more than once in our investigation: the phenomenon of objectlessness, or th e no-longer-standing-over-against-us characteristic of the “object” within the techno logical sphere of Enfr aming. This theme is developed most fully in The Thing .37 Heidegger begins the essay with a di scussion of the effects of technological development on distance : All distances in space and time are sh rinking. Man now reaches overnight, by plane, places which formerly took weeks and months to travel…The germination and growth of plants, which remained hidden throughout the seasons, is now exhibited publicly in a minute, on fi lm…Man puts the longest distances behind him in the shortest time. He puts the gr eatest distances behind himself and thus puts everything before himself at the shor test range…Yet the frantic abolition of all distances brings no nearne ss…Short distance is not in itself nearness. Nor is great distance remoteness.38 Insofar as “distance” is regarded in terms of a space between two objective designations (points), distance and objectness are codependent (and this definition is thus “correct”). The technological abol ition of distance is thus, for Heidegger, an abolition of objectness. The thing that no longer stands over against us as an object has no selfstanding, and thus no distance from us in any meas ure, be it near or far. “Everything gets lumped together into uniform distancelessne ss” in which “everything is equally near and equally far”39 – mere positions on a space-time grid. What is it to be “near”? In order to answer this questi on, it is necessary to question into the nature of a “thing.” “But what is a thin g? Man has so far given no 37Martin Heidegger, “The Thing,” Poetry, Language, Thought. (New York, Harper Colophon Books, 1971) 38 Ibid. 165 39 Ibid. 166


16 more thought to this question than he has to nearness.”40 Through the abolition of distance, the nature of “thing” has been c oncealed and forgotten. We may already notice a connection here between th e “nature” of the thing and poiesis, in QCT. The two conceptions, in a way, are pointing to the same phenomenon, though not a phenomenon in the sense of something that can be directly signified. Uniform distancelessness thus corresponds to the thing in the se nse of standing-reserve: as cu t off from its essence – as a lack of preservation. Being “cut-off” can also be read in more than one way. Dreyfus, in his Being In the World describes distance as a function of Da -sein’s spatiality, which “depends on Dasein’s concernful being-in-the-world.” An object is “near” when it is brought into Dasein’s “referential nexus,” and thus “de-distan ced.” Distance, rather than being a purely mathematical concept, is on this reading re lated to Da-sein’s activity within a world. “The degree of availability is the nearness of concern.” 41 Heidegger uses a jug for an apt example of a “thing.” Its essen ce consists in more than its objectness. To say so, however, seems to contradict a point subtly established in our analysis so far. We said that when so mething no-longer stands over-against us as an object, its thingly essence gets concealed. It is im portant to realize the difference, however, between objectrepresentation and objectness. Something actually standing “over-against” us stands in itself, apart from our representation of that thing as object. Its objectness is not dependent on our re presentational activity as such: As a vessel, the jug is something self-sus tained, something that stands on its own. This standing on its own characterizes the jug as something that is selfsupporting, or independent. As the se lf-supporting independence of something 40 Ibid. 41Hubert Dreyfus. Being in the World: A Commentary He idegger’s Being and Time, Division I (Massachusetts, MIT Press, 1991). 130-131


17 independent, the jug differs from an object. An independent, self-supporting thing may become an object if we pl ace it before us, whether in immediate perception or by bringing it to mind in r ecollective representation. However, the thingly character of the thing does not c onsist in its being a represented object, nor can it be defined in any way in term s of the objectness, the over-againstness, of the object.42 The point being made here is identica l to the points regarding technology as a mode of revealing in the sense of poiesis in QCT. That which is thingly in the thing does not derive from the thing as thing, but from “something” deeper. In the same way, the making of the thing is not the cause of the thi ngly nature of the thi ng, just as the essence of technology is not hing technological.43 “The making, it is true, lets the jug come into its own. But that which in the jug’s natu re is its own is never brought about by its making.”44 Letting-come-into-its-own is poiesis of techne as a mode of aletheuein (revealing) like the peasant farmer who “places the seed in the keeping of the forces of growth and watches over its increase.”45 Uniform distancelessness results from human attempts to master distance. It is the same with the self-exalting of humans as “lord of the earth.” In technological/ calculative thinking, the poetic essence of the thing is held in ferior to (and thus forgotten and replaced by) representations. Here, “sci ence represents something real, by means of which it is objectively controll ed,” and this only because Science always encounters only what its kind of representation has admitted beforehand as an object possible for science… It is said that sc ientific knowledge is compelling. Certainly. But what does its compulsion consist in? In our instance it consists in the compulsion to relinquish the wine-filled jug and to put in its place a hollow within which a liquid spreads. Science makes the jug thing into a non-entity in not permitting things to be the standard for what is real .46 42 Heidegger, “The Thing,” Poetry 166 43 …and “The being of beings “is” itself not a being.” [see Sein und Zeit 6; German] 44 Heidegger, “ The Thing ,” Poetry, 168 45 Heidegger, Question, 15 46 Heidegger “The Thing,” Poetry, 170; my emphasis


18 Obviously, we see the same ambiguity surf acing again with this analysis of the thingliness of the thing. We typically refe r only to inanimate obj ects like rocks and cars as “things.” But Heidegger is trying to convey a wider mean ing of “thing,” much in the same way Meister Eckhart used it: the cautious and abstemious name for something that is at all.47 Furthermore, “the meaning of the na me ‘thing’ varies with the interpretation of that which is – of entities.”48 With this last sentence we finally get an at least partial grasp of how interpretation and multiple-possible readings play th rough Heidegger’s thinking. Insofar as interpretation grounds the meaning of “thi ng,” its meaning will appear “ambiguous” to the positivist or technological mindset seeking conceptual rigor and clarity. Ambiguity, then, is problematic only from the standpoint that demands such clarity: a world preordained and fit for human understanding, mani pulation, and use. The fact that we are asking “But when and in what way do things ex ist as things?” is itself a symptom of the uniform distancelessness characterizing the m odern technological appropriation of world. “This is a question we raise in the mids t of the domination of the distanceless.”49 C. The Thing and Dwelling We observed that nearness is not a f unction of calculable distance. And Heidegger himself states, in Building, Dwelling, Thinking, that “nearness and distance can become mere distance mere intervals of intervening space.”50 Since calculable 47 See especially Martin Heidegger, The Principle of Reason (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1991) 48 Heidegger “The Thing,” Poetry 176 49 Ibid. 181 50 Martin Heidegger, “Building, Dwelling, Thinking,” Basic Writings (New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1993). 357; my emphasis


19 distance is codependent with obj ective representation, we may assert that nearness is also not a function of something being close to or far away (in measurable space) from an individual. What is nearness? To discover the nature of nearness, we ga ve thought to the jug near by. We have sought the nature of n earness and found the nature of the jug as a thing. But in this discovery we also cat ch sight of the nature of nearness. The thing things. In thinging, it stays earth and sky, divinities a nd mortals. Staying, the thing brings the four, in their remotene ss, near to one another. This bringingnear is nearing. Nearing is the presenci ng of nearness. Nearness brings near – draws nigh to one another – the far and, indeed, as far. Nearness preserves farness. Preserving, farness, nearness, pres ences nearness in nearing that farness. Bringing near in this way, nearness conceal s its own self and remains, in its own way, nearest of all.51 It is indeed because “nearness preserves farn ess” that the modern technological conquest of distance has resulted in uniform distancelessness. The technological mode of thinking results fr om a series of abstractions. The first abstraction results in “mere distance.” From this, “a further abstraction can be made, to analytic-algebraic relations. What these relati ons make room for is the possibility of the purely mathematical construction of manifolds with an arbitrary number of dimensions.” The “space” rendered from these abstractions, in turn, “contains no spaces and no places.”52 Mathematics is thus, it may be said, “twice removed from reality.” And yet it comes to dominate what counts as “real thinki ng” in the present technological era. We are pushing beneath abst ractions, towards the primor dial “that” which is no particular thing, but from which, nevertheless, all things are. The above cited paragraph gives us a nexus from which a more thorough understanding of the technological can be gleaned. There are several important themes for our purposes here: 1) The fourfold of 51 Heidegger, Poetry, 177-78. 52 Heidegger, Basic Writings, 357


20 earth, sky, divinities, and mortals 2) Dwelling, 3) Staying/gathering/bringing near, and 4) Preserving and man as the “shepherd of Being,” The Fourfold Heidegger’s “Fourfold” is comprised of “earth,” “sky,” “divinities,” and “mortals.” According to Heidegger, Earth is the serving bearer, blossoming and fruiting, spreading out in rock and water, rising up into plant and animal…The sky is the vaulting path of the sun, the year’s season’s and their changes, the lig ht and dusk of day, the gloom and glow of night, the clemency and inclemency of the weather, the drifting clouds and the blue depth of the ether…The diviniti es are the beckoning messengers of the godhead, the god appears in his presence or withdraws into his concealment…The mortals are the human beings. They are ca lled mortals because they can die. To die means to be capable of death as deat h. Only man dies, and indeed continually, as long as he remains on earth, under the sky, before the divinities…When we speak of [any one of these], we are alrea dy thinking of the othe r three along with them, but we give no thought to the simple oneness of the four.53 Heidegger’s “Fourfold,” is so rich with possible interpretations that it is simply not possible to give a fully ad equate treatment of it here. For our purposes, it is the last sentences of the above cited passage that be ar perhaps the greatest importance. The “four” of the fourfold are together in a “s imple oneness.” That is, one cannot think of any of these “four” in isolation from the other three. “The simple oneness of the four we call the fourfold .”54 The point of this sentence has already been expressed above. For instance, in QCT, one is to “pay heed ” to the questioning way by not fixing our “attention upon isolated sentences and topics.” The same goes for the fourfold, and, perhaps, for the same “reasons.” To “pay heed” is to read “fourfold” with a stress on the – fold Obviously then, a reading that instead stresses the fourwill be one that fixes attention 53 Ibid. 351 54 Ibid. 352


21 “upon isolated sentences and topics,” having an atomistic interpretive approach in common with such attention. Such is pr ecisely the state of affairs in which Our thinking has of course been long accustomed to understate the essence of the thing. The consequence, in the course of Western thought, has been that the thing is represented as an unknown X to which perceptible qualities ar e attached. From this point of view, everything that already belongs to the gathering essence of this thing does, of course, appear as somethi ng that is afterward read into it.55 Dwelling But our interests in this section regard the “thing” and what it is to be a “thing.” The thingly nature of the thing is essentia lly tied to what it is, for Heidegger, to dwell. [D]welling itself is always a staying with things. Dwelling, as preserving, keeps the fourfold in that with which mortal s stay: in things…Staying with things, however, is not something attached to this fourfold preservation as a fifth something. On the contrary: staying with things is the only way in which the fourfold is accomplished at any time in simple unity. Dwelling preserves the fourfold by bringing the essence of the fourfold into things. But things themselves secure the fourfold only when they themselves as things are let be in their essence.56 “Building is really dwelling.” This statement is in line with what we said above regarding the poetical essence of the “thing.” As with th e fourfold, we must question this statement in terms of an investigation into “that” which unites the two, that from out of which “Building as dwelling unfol ds into the building that cu ltivates growing things and the building that erects buildings.”57 Secondly, says Heide gger, the event where dwelling “recedes behind the manifold ways in which dwelling is accomplished, the acti vities of cultivation and construction,” is essentially connected with the event wher e these activities “claim the name of bauen, 55 Ibid. 355 56 Ibid. 353 57 Ibid. 350


22 building, and with it the matter of building, strictly for themselves.”58 We can see a strong connection here between this recession of dwelling behind building and humans as “lord of the Earth.” Humans subdue dwelling to their own projects, (seemingly) lording over dwelling. Third, and on the basis of the first two examples, However hard and bitter, however hamper ing and threatening the lack of homes remains, the proper plight of dwelling does not lie merely in a lack of houses. The proper plight of dwelling is indeed older than the world wars with their destruction, older also th an the increase in the earth’s population and the condition of the industrial workers. The pr oper dwelling plight lies in this, that mortals ever search anew for the essence of dwelling, that they must ever learn to dwell.59 Staying/Gathering/Bringing Near How does one “learn to dwell?” “What” is “it” that must be learned? We find that like the four of the onefold fourfol d, building and dwelling, challenging and lettingbe, there is “something” which both dwelling and “staying/gatheri ng/bringing near” share in common. In his investigation of the jug, Heidegger says: Our language denotes what a gathering is by an ancient word. That word is: thing. The jug’s presencing is the pure, giving gathering of the one-fold fourfold into a single time-space, a single stay. Th e jug presences as a thing. The jug is the jug as a thing. But how does the thi ng presence? The thing things. Thinging gathers. Appropriating the f ourfold, it gathers the fourfold ’s stay, its while, into something that stays for a while : into this thing, that thing.60 There is thus a poetic essence to “thing,” “thinging,” “gathering,” “staying,” and “bringing near.” Heid egger demonstrates the thingly and thinging nature of the thing through his depiction of the “bridge” that, as thing, “gathers the earth and landscape 58 Ibid. 59 Ibid. 60 Heidegger, Poetry, 174


23 around the stream.” It is thus “a thing of its own kind; for it gathers the fourfold in such a way that it allows a site for it.”61 The identity of the thi ng is constituted out of a relationship with the site it opens up through its presen cing. It is important to note Heidegger’s stress on the way such gathering happens, rather than that this or that action “is” or “is not” a gathering. We have taken note of Heidegger’s depicti on of the technological: that it results in an “objectless” and “uniform distancele ssness.” And yet his language: that the “ thing things” and “thinging gathers,” seems to suggest that there is indeed something that the thing does on its own. Is this statem ent in conflict with the nature of poiesis ? This is one reading, but it is not the only one. Man as the “shepherd” of Being That “Man is the shepherd of Being” is certainly one of Heidegger’s most famous and significant statements. Heidegger says man is “thrown” from Being itself into the truth of Being so that he might “guard the truth of Being, in order that beings might appear in the light of Bei ng as the beings they are.”62 To be a guard is, for Heidegger, to allow things to appear in the light of being. Guarding and shepherding, then, is allowance of the poetic, as in gathering, preserving, and the bringing-near of the fourin the fourfold. “To spare and preserve,” says Heidegger, “means to take under our care, to look after the fourfold in its essence.”63 Further, Since Being is never the merely precisely actual, to guard being can never be equated with the task of a guard who prot ects from burglars a tr easure stored in a building. Guardianship of Being is not fixated upon something existent. The 61Heidegger, Basic Writings, 334-35 62Ibid. 234 63 Ibid. 353


24 existing thing, taken for itself never contains an appeal of Being. Guardianship is vigilance, watchfulness for the has-been and coming destiny of Being, a vigilance that issues from a long and ever-renewed thoughtful deliberateness, which heeds the directive that lies in the manner in which Being makes its appeal. In the destiny of Being, there is never a mere se quence of things one after another: now frame, then world and thing; rather, th ere is always a passing by and simultaneity of the early and late.64 We have been following a trace w hose source lies in the mystery of poetic coming to presence. The “simultaneity” mentioned in the last sentence of the above passage should bring to mind the apparent tension between the “thinging” of the thing and poiesis : “apparent,” precisely because the regarded presence or absence of the tension is grounded in a particular interpretation of Being. But in order to understand this simultaneity of tension and no-tension with regard to the relationship between thinging and poiesis it is necessary to proceed one “step” further. D. Responding and Releasement We are questioning Being. Such questioni ng is “thinking.” To “think Being” can mean to think about a thing called “Being”: an object for thought. This definition, like Heidegger himself says so many times, is “correct ,” but it is not the only one. Heidegger says To think “Being” is to respond to the a ppeal of its presencing. The response stems from the appeal and re leases itself toward that appeal. The responding is a giving way before that appeal and in this way an entering into its speech. But to the appeal of Being there also be longs the early uncovered has-been ( aletheia, logos, phusis ) as well as the veiled advent of what announces itself in the possible turnabout of the oblivion of Bei ng (in the keeping of its nature).65 The same “simultaneity of early and late ” appears here as well. In turn, QCT closes with an examination of a line by Ho lderlin: “Where the danger is, grows/ The 64 Heidegger, Poetry, 184 65 Ibid. 183


25 saving power also.”66 There is an essential relationsh ip between what it is to “shepherd” Being and what it is to “hear” the “appeal of Being.” To hear as shepherd, is to respond to a call (from Being) to someho w take part in the “turnabout of the oblivion of Being.” This “oblivion of Being” is the objec tless and uniform-distancelessness of the technological mode, a mode where the object “no longer stands over-against us,” where the fourfold is no longer gath ered in the sense of the –fold, but rather “mastered” as isolated grid components in the servi ce of humans as “lord of the earth.” Humans think, but their thoughts are not their own. To claim thoughts as possessions is akin to hoardi ng a treasure – the “treasure” of which the mistaken-hearer of the appeal of Being attempts to guard from burglars. “Thinking, in contrast, lets itself be claimed by Being so that it can say th e truth of Being. Thinking accomplishes this letting.”67 Thus, thinking, in the turnabout, is releas ed from the enslavement of being an effect of which humans as such are the cause It is not something that humans make. Such a notion is a direct expression of the technological “lordi ng” mode in which objectlessness replaces the self-standing poetic nature of things as such. Ironically it is this objectlessness that makes possible the claiming of individual humans of thinking as their own creation and right: where naming rules the named. “Naming rules the named” in the same way “science encounters only what its kind of representation has admitted beforehand…”68 The scientific and technological mode of being is characteriz ed by a prior rule giving that sets into order by way of revealing that which is subsequently ordered as having always been th at way: it brings 66 Heidegger, Question, 34 67 Heidegger, Basic Writings, 218 68 Heidegger, Poetry 170


26 forth the ordering act as rather an apprehen sion of the “way things are.” But “more important than instituting rules is that man find his way to his abode in the truth of Being. This abode first yields the experience of so mething we can hold on to. The truth of Being offers a hold for all conduct.”69 The offered “hold” is not a set of rules. If there is an essential link between “thing,” poiesis, “shepherd,” and releasement, it is the mutual requirement by all of these of responding Responding means listening to the call of Bein g: a turning of my attention (and priorities) beyond myself as an isolated subjectivity. It is a move away from the “lording” tendencies of humans who, thrown into technological revealing, reveal the “meaning” of existence in terms of means-end producti on figures, always having the “data” to back them up.70 With this mode of thi nking – the thinking of Being – correctness is no longer the hallmark of rightness: As a response, thinking of Being is a highl y errant and in addition a very destitute matter. Thinking is perhaps, after all, an unavoidable path, which refuses to be a path of salvation and brings no new wisdom The path is at most a field path, a path across fields, which does not just speak of renunciation but already has renounced, namely, renounced the claim to a binding doctrine and a valid cultural achievement or a deed of the spirit. Ev erything depends on the step back, fraught with error, into the thought ful reflection that attends th e turnabout of the oblivion of Being. The step back from the repr esentational thinking of metaphysics does not reject such thinking, but opens the distant to the a ppeal of the trueness of Being in which the responding always takes place.71 We can ask, again: what is responding? It is hoped that by now, however, we know not to expect a “correct” an swer in the form of a stri ct delineated concept offered solely to satisfy and fill the space of this “what.” We also know, in turn, that responding, 69 Ibid. 262 70 That is, until recently. Chapter Two provides ample data from the science of ecology, showing that, contrary to popular belief, there are, it seems, natural checks on just how far human technologizing activity can go in guaranteeing a world of, by, and for human beings. 71 Heidegger, Poetry, 185


27 releasement, and poetic revealing are not accomplished sole ly by human doing: to say so is to remain in the technologica l mode of humans as “lord.” Heidegger says “A mere shift in attitude is powerless to bring about the advent of the thing as thing, just as not hing that stands today as an object in the distanceless can ever be simply switched over into a thing.”72 Neither the revealing of the thing as it is in itself, nor the shift in attitude necessary to a llow such revealing to occur, is something we can do on our own. Although to say so seems to leave the matter dangl ing in uncertainty, perhaps everything that has b een said so far regarding co rrectness and certainty will provide the patience needed to wait for a mo re satisfactory illumination in the third chapter.73 72 Ibid. 182 73 See Chapter 3 for a much more in-depth discussi on of “releasement” as delineated in Heidegger’s Discourse on Thinking.


28 Chapter Two: Deep Ecology A. Introduction Ecology is “the scientific st udy of the interrelationships among organisms and between organisms, and between all aspects, living and non-living, of the environment.”74 The origin of the term is not comp letely solid, though it has been traced to the nature writings of Theophrastus (c372-287 BC). The etymology of the term derives from the Greek word oikos meaning “household, home, or place to live.” German zoologist Ernest Haeckel coined it in reference to the re lationship between an animal and its “organic or inorganic envi ronment.” Ecology is thus the study of the relationships between organisms and their environment (and each other). On September 3, 1972, at the third Worl d Future Research Conference in Bucharest, Romania, the Norwegian philo sopher Arne Naess, coined the term Deep Ecology (hereafter referred to as ‘DE’) by di fferentiating between what he called “shallow” and “deep” ecological views. The former involve concern for environmental matters solely insofar as human interests are involved. Naess labele d this “standard view of conservationists” shallow ecology which he describes as “mainly an anthropocentric, individualistic, Western movement, concerned with the health and affluence of people in the developed countries.”75 A shallow focus is narrow, but not completely unethical. “The limitation of the shallow movement is not due to a weak or unethical philosophy,” 74 Michael Allaby, The Oxford Dictionary of Ecology (New York, Oxford University Press, 1998). 136 75 See Louis P. Pojman, Global Environmental Ethics (California, Mayfield Publishing Company, 2000). 176


29 says Naess, “but to a lack of explicit concern with ultimate aims, goals, and norms.”76 The word “shallow” nevertheless has an understandably derogatory tone. David Rothenberg states in the Introduction to Naess’s Ecology, Community, Lifestyle, More precisely, [DE] is th e utilization of basic concep ts from the science of ecology – such as complexity, diversity, a nd symbiosis – to clarify the place of our species within nature through the process of wo rking out a total view.77 DE does not, as a reaction to shallowness, c onstitute a rejection of social activism. Naess himself states that in DE, “unlik e academic philosophy, decisions and actions count more than generalities.”78 But nor does it reject philosophical reasoning: it combines abstract philosophical formulations with prescriptions for concrete action. The focus of action in shallow eco logy is at issue. DE is an ecological philosophy or ecophilosophy. Naess’s word is “ ecosophy .” The combination of abstract reasoning and c oncrete action hints at DE’s symbiotic and non-exclusionary character. The science of ecology is observati onal or descriptive, whereas an ecosophy is action oriented. “Without an ecosophy, ecology can provide no principles for acting, no motive for political and individual efforts.”79 Naess himself calls his ecosophy ‘Ecosophy T’, thereby distinguishing it from other ecopsophies. The possibility of more than one ecosophy refl ects the diversity of organisms and phenomena in the ecopshere: Rather than talking about reality or th e world, ecosophical thinking proceeds in terms of nature, and humanity’s relation to nature. An attempt is made to defend our spontaneous, rich, seemingly contradict ory experience of nature as more than 76 Arne Naess & David Rothenberg, Ecology, Community and Lifestyle (New York, Cambridge University Press, 1989) 33 77 Ibid. 3 78 Ibid. 77 79 Ibid. 41


30 subjective impressions. They make up the c oncrete contents of our world. This point of view, as every other ontology, is deeply problematic – but of great potential value for energetic environmen talism in opposition to the contemporary near-monopoly of the so-calle d scientific world-view.80 A “total view” is to replace the narrow a nd limited attitudes of citizens in modern industrial societies. “Total view” corresponds with “the rela tional, total-field image” of self presented by DE. Ecocentrism replaces anthropocentrism: as such, DE is a “rejection of the man-in-environment image,”81 doing away with the strictly atomistic view of the self, or ‘self’ accordi ng to the technological worldview. Organisms [are] as knots in the biospherical net or field of total relations. An intrinsic relation betw een two things A and B is such that the relation belongs to the definitions or basic constitutions of A and B, so that without the relation, A and B are no longer the same thing. The total-field dissolves not only the man-inenvironment concept, but every compact thing-in-milieu concept – except when talking at a superfic ial or preliminary le vel of communication.82 A “total view” is identification w ith not just one’s own species, but all forms of life. Further, the meaning of “self-realization” is widened out of its typically selfcentered rendering to include othe r species, the environment and the ecopshere Thus, as one cares for the environment, one cares for oneself. DE endorses “not a slight reform of our present society, but a substantial reorientation of our whole civilization.”83 There is an intrinsic connection between DE and nonviolence (in the Ghandian sense): as su ch, violent revolutions are not consistent with its purpose. “ The direction is revolutionary, the steps are reformatory .”84 DE aims at changing the dominant worldview and soci al structure of modernity. The reasons 80 Ibid. 35 81 Arne Naess. “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995). 151 82 Ibid. 83 Ibid. 45 84 Ibid. 156; author’s emphasis


31 behind the alignment between DE and nonviolent change be come clearer upon consideration of self-w idening, explained below.85 We can say for now that the relationship between DE and nonviolence mi rrors the symbiosis expressed through organic relations (between be ings or between being and e nvironment) within the total ecosystem. Naess and Sessions formulated the basic principles of any ecosophy Their goal was to represent the “basics,” which are “m eant to express important points which the great majority of supporters accept, implic itly or explicitly, at a high level of generality.”86 These principles “gui de those who believe ecolo gical problems cannot be solved only by technological ‘quick-fix’ solutions,” in achieving effective non-violent direct action in the direction of fundamental change.87 The generality of the points allows for specifics to be worked out on individual bases: the point is to provide a tool for re alizing commonality, rather than a calculus of differentiation. This eight-point platform is: 1. The well-being and flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: in trinsic value, intrinsic worth). These values are independent of th e usefulness of the non-human world for human purposes. 2. Richness and diversity of life form s contribute to th e realization of these values and are also values in themselves. 3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness except to satisfy vital needs. 4. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantially smaller human populati on. The flourishing of non-human life requires a smaller human population. 5. Present human interference with the non-human world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening. 85 Elucidated in section E of this chapter. 86 Ibid. 87 Ibid. 4


32 6. Policies must therefore be cha nged. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply diffe rent from the present. 7. The ideological change will be main ly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between bigness and greatness. 8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to im plement the necessary changes.88 Point number one is an ecosophical nexus. The good of any non-human entity is independent of our valuations of it (e.g., for profits, resour ces, or other strictly human purposes). The other points flow out of and unite around this c onception. Additional viewpoints range from political (increas ed self-determination and diminished centralization of govern mental structures)89to personal (the “profound human ignorance of biospherical relationships,”90 stress on a humble, questioning attitude) to transpersonal (peace and nonviolence91, concern for future generations ). “Profound ignorance” is not an assertion of human stupid ity. It rather signifies an open and humble attitude, expressed by Naess where he says “the smalle r we come to feel ourselves compared to the mountain, the nearer we come to particip ating in its greatness. I do not know why this is so.”92 The ecological movement relies upon the re sults of research in ecology and more recently in conservation biology…But to the great amazement of many, the scientific conclusions are often statements of ignorance: ‘We do not know what long-range consequences the proposed inte rference in the ecosystem will beget, 88 Ibid. 68 89 Stephen Bodian. “Simple In Means, Rich In Ends,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995). 32 90 Arne Naess. “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements: A Summary,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995) 153; this sentence does not say that Naess advocates ignorance. A remembrance of ourselves as still having much to learn brings about a sense of “profound ignorance” more akin to awe, rather than stupidity. 91 Arne Naess. “The Deep Ecology ‘Eight Points’ Revisited,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995). 213 92 Naess and Rothenberg, Ecology, 3


33 so we cannot make and hard and fast change s.’ Only rarely can scientists predict with any certainty the effect of a new chemical on even a single small ecosystem…The study of ecosystems ma kes us conscious of our ignorance.93 B. The Ethical Landscape of Deep Ecology One possible take on deep ecological ethics involves seeing it as an extension of traditional ethics. The range of ethical consideration is widened from its traditionally human focus to include animals (as in Singer), plants (as in Taylor), and ecosystems (DE). But there is more than one take on th e meaning of “widening” as well. One could view it as a linear extension or broadening of the meaning of patient so that more possible recipients of the effects of an acti on are considered: the typical take on animal rights views it as an avoidance of speciesism : not withholding any righ t from animals that we could not justifiably withhold from humans. But the linear model still remains human centered, thus falling under the “shallow” categorization of ecology. DE rath er approaches ethica l expansion from the side of the agent: the agent as subject is expanded to include animals, plants and ecosystems as itself : but not in a selfish, human centered, or “me”-oriented sense. The ethical patient is not separate Self is originally wide. The intensity of identification with othe r forms of life depends on milieu, culture, and economic conditions. The ecosophical outlook is developed through an identification so deep that one’s own self is no longer adequa tely delimited by the personal ego or organism. One experiences on eself to be a genuine part of all life. Each living being is under stood as a goal in itself, in principle on equal footing with one’s own ego. It also entails a transition from I-it attitudes to I-thou attitudes – to use Buber’s terminology…Thi s does not imply that one acts, wishes to act, or consistently can act in harmony with the principle of equality. The statements about biospher ic equality must be me rely taken as guidelines.94 93 Ibid. 26-27 94 Ibid. 174; author’s emphasis


34 The concept of intrinsic value is extremely important for ecophilosophical purposes. Widened considera tion entails recognition of ot hers as goal-directed and striving to flourish, in contrast to a purely instrumental value that is human centered and ascribes value to non-human life only insofar as there is some benefit to be had for humans by doing so. Traditionally, intrinsicality and instrumentality are kept substantially separate. In the total-field view of DE, th is and other “separations” are not necessarily eliminated per se, but softened and opened. Perceptive readers will notice here a parall el to Kantian ethical terminology: ends (intrinsic) and means (instrum ental). Both formulations of the Categorical Imperative show up in Naess’s work. The first is in a discussion of technology where he asks “…should we not subscribe to the following nor m: ‘Choose a level of standard of living such that you realistically may desire that a ll fellow humans reach the same level if they want’?”95 Naess mentions humans explicitly, here, but it is not hard to realize that if this norm were to be consistently and univer sally sought, the well-being of non-human organisms would be substantially increased. The second formulation appears within an extension of Naess’s above-quoted discussion of self-widening, which simultane ously expands upon the “softening” of the “substantial” divide between intr insicality and instrumentality: Even under conditions of intense identific ation, killing occurs The Indians in California, with their animistic myth ology, were an example of equality in principle, combined with realistic admi ssions of their own vital needs. When hunger arrives, brother rabbit winds up in the pot. ‘A brother is a citizen, but oh, so temptingly nutritious!’ – This exampl e is too easy: the complicated rituals which surround the hunt in many cultures il lustrate how closely people feel bound to other beings, and how natu ral it is to feel that when we harm others, we also harm ourselves. Non-instrumental acts develop into instrumental…Immanuel Kant’s maxim ‘You shall never use anothe r person only as a means’ is expanded 95 Ibid. 100


35 in Ecosophy T to ‘You shall never use a ny living being only as a means.’…A lack of identification leads to indifference.96 Intrinsicality and instrumental ity are interdependent in the manner of organisms in symbiosis. This is the conception of “identif ication” in DE. To substantiate it into a statement of pure sameness is to fall into a wi der atomism, but atomism nonetheless. By contrast, identification in DE is fluid and dynamic, similar to how things are rooted in Logos in the Heraclitean conception of the term: th ings have identities, but not strictly out of themselves as individuals qua i ndividuals. In the same way, neither ought and is, nor value and fact are substantially distinct. Our opinions as to what is or ought to be done are highly dependent upon our hypotheses as to how the world is organized. Applied to ecological relationships, this implies that our norms are de pendent upon our beliefs regarding the interdependency relations within the biosphere.97 Interdependency relations entail as well an interdependency of self-realization(s). A identifies with the other (B) to such a de gree that “when B seeks a just treatment, A supports the claim.”98 All of the interdependencies c ited thus far point again to something that unites them. This “thing” is no substa ntial thing: it is more mysterious than any neatly boxed or ca tegorized “it.” These considerations set the stage for observing another Kan tian parallel in Naess’s ecosophy: of “beautiful actions,” expressed where Naess states: “Where solidarity and loyalty are solidly anchored in identification, they ar e not experienced as moral demands; they come out of themselves .”99 Such actions serve as an alternative to 96 Ibid. 174; author’s emphasis 97 Ibid. 74; author’s emphasis 98 Ibid. 172 99 Ibid. 172; my emphasis


36 both selfishness and altruism since both revolve around a na rrow conception of ethical actor or agent. Inspired by Kant, one may speak of ‘beau tiful’ and of ‘moral’ action. Moral actions are motivated by acceptance of a moral law, and manifest themselves clearly when acting against inclination. A person acts beautifully when acting benevolently from inclination. Environm ent is then not felt to be something strange or hostile which we must unfort unately adapt ourselves to, but something valuable which we are inclined to treat with joy and respect, and the overwhelming richness of which we are inclined to use to satisfy our vital needs.100 A conception of ethics beyond both self ishness and altruism obviously involves an other-than-normal conception of value. DE entails a move away from both atomistic and anthropocentric value conceptions. “It is misleading terminology to maintain that values humanly conceived as valuable are such for human beings .”101 This difference is linked to both to interdepende ncy relations betwee n is/ought, intrinsic/instrumental and I/thou, as well as the self-emerg ence of beautiful actions. Actually, both interdependence and self -emergence take part in a mirroring of ecosystemic reality: the latter is explicitly related to intrinsic value in that something with ‘a value of its own’ has this value out of itself – but not, as discussed above, out of itself qua-individual. It is self-emergence in a similar sense to Heidegger’s notion of phusis as a mode of aletheia .102 Not only is such a conception more dynamic (and thus closer to ecosystemic reality): it provides a deeper ac count of the valuable than anything possible out of a traditionally atomistic ethical framework. We have seen that what was originally perceived as conceptual dichotomies with substantially separated elements gets re-worked in DE into interdependency relations. 100 Ibid. 85 101 Ibid. 177; author’s emphasis 102 See Chapter One. This issue is a major theme of Chapter Three, in which the connections between Heidegger’s account of poiesis and DE are explicitly discussed.


37 Such goes not only for particular conceptual pairs within ethics and ontology as separate fields, but for ethics and ontology themselves : It is, I think, important in th e philosophy of environmentalism to move from ethics to ontology and back Clarification of differen ces in ontology may contribute significantly to the clarificat ion of different policies and their ethical basis…In an analysis that begins with concrete contents, the is-ought and fact-value dichotomies don’t look quite as they did from where Hume started, namely as factual and value affirmations …J. Baird Callicott (1982) says that ‘ecology changes our values by changing our concep ts of the world and of ourselves in relation to the world. It reveals new relations among objects which, once revealed, stir our ancient centers of moral feeling.’ (p. 174) The stirring is part of a gestalt, and as such not to be isolated from the objects.103 What is the consequence of this claim for an ethic (i.e. normative system)? The point is not novel: “the validity of norms depends upon the validity of non-normative assumptions, theories, postulates, and observations.”104 For this reason, it is important to articulate the connection betw een stated norms (ethics) a nd the ontological claims or assumptions from which they are apparently derived. Derivation of course, is here grounded in interaction and in terconnectedness; it is not just a one-way extraction. Connections need to be articulated. When such articulation is neglected, “each norm tends to be taken as absolute ultimate. This reduces or eliminates the possibility of rational discussion.”105 This new relation to the world, based in ecosystemic interdependence, constitutes a move away from instrumentality. “ It is most advantageous to the ecological movement that as few as possible norms should be purely instrumental.”106 DE’s critique of instrumentality opens the way for an account of technology, the topic of the following section. 103 Naess and Rothenberg, Ecology, 67 104 Ibid. 43 105 Ibid. 43-44 106 Ibid. 76


38 C. Deep Ecology and Technology Naess writes, concerning our societ al role in the global community, “ No matter which one of the great philosophies one consid ers to be valid, our cu rrent role would be evaluated negatively. ” A role in which environmen talism takes precedence, however, “has no philosophical system to fear.”107 The issue for us is the seeming negativity towards technology of this hypothetical evaluati on. It’s important to keep the deep ecological explication of value (from the previous section) in mind through what follows. Much of Heidegger’s take on technology is relevant here. Like Heidegger, Naess laments a world in which the tool has become the owner. “The cog wheels have brought us into the very machinery we thought wa s our slave,” says Naess, sounding a lot like Heidegger speaking of humans as standing reserve.108 Further, The technological developments in modern industrial societie s have resulted in continuous pressures towards a kind of lifestyle repugnant not only to supporters of the deep ecology movement but to those in most alternative movements…Some of the reasons for such a confrontation ar e fairly obvious: modern industrial technol ogy is a centralizing factor, it tends towards bigness, it decreases the area within which one can sa y ‘self-made is well made’, it attaches us to big markets, and forces us to seek an ever-increasing income. The administrative technologies are adapted to the physical technologies and encourage more and more impersonal relations.109 A technological society, it appears, inhibits many of the actions and attitudes necessary for lifestyle consistent with ecosyst emic processes. Diversity is superceded by centralization, calculated bigness replaces a deeper greatness instrumental justifications for production replace self-making the self-e mergence of life and personal relationships take second place to an impersonal social structure in which competition outweighs community, openness, and a deep appreciation of the other. 107 Ibid. 86 108 Ibid. 24 109 Ibid. 92


39 The nature of competition is peculiar in itself. A competitive society has the appearance of diversity, but upon closer inspection, reveals it self to the one who probes as a rather homogenous state of affairs. Competition is a driving force towards centralization. Not only that: once competition becomes a value to a society (as in the United States, where competition is all too often held to be the actualization of Jeffersonian democracy), alienation and elitism result, as each indivi dual individualizes himself against the other: the other becomes a possible hindrance to pe rsonal prestige. As far as the relationship between comp etition and production is concerned, one need only think of the shif t Heidegger discusses from techne to manufacturing. One needs only to think of the difference be tween specialized craftworks (e.g. no two sculptures exactly alike) and the Ford ian calculation of individual component constructions on an assembly line: producti vity and efficiency take precedence – meditative sculpting is a hindrance to high profits. That one does it fast is more important than doing it well: machines and computers are careful for the workers. As a result, workers work for the machines.110 Centralization is not a simply domestic factor. It functions on the global level as well. Naess asks “When a technical advance is made in a leading industrial country, is it natural that the thousands of cultures and subcultures on this globe ultimately adapt themselves to one group’s ‘progress’?”111 The ecological equivalent would be all animals in a watershed community acting lik e the ducks. Why does this happen? Upon what assumptions are such actions likely based? 110 This are of course other ways to characterize this relationship. Chapter Three will clarify why I have chosen this particular path. 111 Ibid. 94


40 These questions are difficult to answer, especi ally in light of the totalizing effect of technological societies over generations. It is one thing to locate a conscious decision by a citizen: the moment where she proclaims technical progress as the purpose of life. It is quite another when such an ideal forms the structure of life into which a person is born, grows up, and is educated to accept that one who has no money has no life. Heidegger’s conception of thrownness is one way of getting at this cr oss-generational totalization. Something similar perhaps is behind Naess’s co mment that “the general trend of modern technological developments has perhaps not been masterminded by anybody, by any group or any constellation of humans. It may have developed largely ‘by itself’.”112 If technology has “developed largely ‘by itsel f’,” it is not to be taken in the same sense as an organism’s self-development, but rather as a function of a perpetuated ideology: “a deeply grounded ideo logy of production and consumption.”113 Technical progress is often justified in terms of it s being useful for cu lture: think of the advertisements for cellular phones and cars wher e the father gets the laboring mother to the emergency room just in time to save the ba by, thanks to his superior satellite network and his trusty Jeep. In all di stortions of the truth, a kernel is necessarily preserved. This truth is that “Technical progre ss is never purely technical: the value of technical change is dependent upon its value for culture in general.”114 Such advertisements amount to praisi ng the corporations who provide these services. The hidden shift fr om corporations serving culture to humans in service of corporations is certainly at issue. As Naess writes: 112 Ibid. 96 113 Ibid. 104 114 Ibid. 33


41 The degree of self-reliance for individuals and local communities diminishes in proportion to the extent a t echnique or technology tran scends the abilities and resources of the particular individuals or local communities. Passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon ‘megasociety’ and the world market increase.115 There is a striking correspondence between technocracy and hedonistic philosophy. Our dependence on corporate t echnological advancements colors our pleasure and leisure time, however, to the degree that most people assume that these must be purchased. The assumption is widespread that, without money, there can be neither leisure nor pleasure. A core tenet of DE is the adoption of what Naess calls “voluntary simplicity.” Obviously, the less I depend upon purchasable gadgets for my leisure and pleasure, the less I have to work to pay bills, and the more leisure time (and pleasure time) I have available to me: which is the poi nt of going to work in the first place. DE stresses the fact that people need much less than they believe: but such an idea, though good for individuals, is bad for corporations and markets. The advertising industry was perhaps developed for the purpose of influenci ng citizens to buy more than they actually need.. DE stresses a redefinition of the meani ng of “progress” from increasing GNP to life quality. There is data backing up the need for such a redefinition. In the United States, the number of people describing themselves as “very happy” dropped from 35% in 1957 to 30% in the mid 1990’s, even though the same period witnessed a doubling of income per capita.116 There is no direct correlation between material wealth and overall well-being, as many advertising camp aigns would have us believe. 115 Ibid. 103 116 Christopher Flavin, State of the World Report 2002 (New York, The Worldwatch Institute, 2002). 17


42 Naess characterizes our pres ent industrialized society as a “technocracy” in which people are “more occupied with subordinat e ends (buildings) ove r fundamental ones (homes).”117 Heidegger’s distinction between bui lding and dwelling certainly comes to mind here. Concern solely with building arises from an instrumental filtering of nature into means-ends production frameworks, whereas dwelling is a preservation of essence. The parallel in Naess is “self-em ergence” and “intrinsic value.” The more the ability to dwell on intr insic value diminishes, the faster consciousness turns from immediate experience to planning for the coming time. Although the intrinsic values are ostens ibly still the central themes, the procurement of effective of effective means is the principle occupation. The undesirable consequences of this become more and more aggravated as the individual consumer has less and less to do with production. The techniques are ‘improved’ constantly, requiring great sa crifices of time and energy. Unnoticed, the time spent upon goals withers away. The headlong rush after means takes over: the improvements are illusory.118 There is no inherent price tag on nature or human beings. “Cost-benefit analysis breaks down in the case of rights.”119 What is the price of breaking your arm? Such a situation drives the point home. The “brea kdown” occurs due to the link between value and self-emergence discussed in the previous se ction. That which is inherently valuable in itself cannot at the same time be solely in strumentally valuable. There is no absolute separation between ontology and ethics. Like wise, there can be no separation between technical proliferation and its ethical c onsequences. Technological progress does not occur ‘in a vacuum.’ A critical attitude toward s technology seems to invol ve a suggestion towards the necessity of action and change. But upon what basis? There are two issues: 1) Such change is possible; 2) Such change should occur. Both of these are entailed by Naess’s 117 Naess and Rothenberg, Ecology, 97 118 Ibid. 97 119 Ibid. 125


43 statement that “Contrary to expectation, urba nized life has not killed human fascination with free nature, but only ma de the access more difficult and promoted mass tourism.”120 The situation is not hopeless. But an objection to the vaguene ss or lack of prescriptions could be raised: ‘what exactly are we to do about this?’ What demand is the deep ecologist expect ed to satisfy with this question? Some demands are consistent with nature, and can thus be met; others are not. Naess writes: The Future in Our Hands is actively a ssociating consciousness and lifestyle change with direct action. Attempts at a change in lifestyle cannot wait for the implementation of policies which render such change more or less required. The demand for a ‘new system’ first is misguided and can lead to passivity. The same applies to personal lifestyle change first and consequent isolation from political action. These two changes must proceed simultaneously. Changes have to be made from the inside and from the outside, all in one.121 Fine: but for the seeker of more explicit answers, some statements can still be offered. Society “cannot adopt different aims and values un less the way of production is altered.”122 One obvious way to achieve production shift in an originally demand-driven economy is through demand shift. The pow er of boycotts and product information campaigns derives from the original r ootedness of market progress in demand. Ironically, so too does the advertising industry. But there are many ways to achieve such a shift. The next section i nvestigates more in depth th e common qualities the any deep ecological activism will share insofar as it qualifies as an ‘ecosophy’. 120 Ibid. 177 121 Ibid. 89 122 Ibid. 132


44 D. The Eight Point Platform The following section is a commentary on the principles of Naess’s Eight Point Platform. Each point is considered in its own light. But the in ter-connectedness of the points (again, flowing from the first point) is worth notice. The well-being and flourishing of human an d non-human life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: intrinsic value, inhe rent worth). These values are independent of the usefulness of the non-hum an world for human purposes. In his essay “The Viable Human,” Thomas Berry writes The basic orientation of the common law tr adition is toward personal rights and toward the natural world as existing for human use. There is no provision for recognition of nonhuman beings as subj ects having legal rights. To the ecologists, the entire qu estion of possession and use of the earth, either by individuals or by establishments, needs to be profoundly reconsidered. The nave assumption that the natural world exists solely to be possessed and used by humans for their unlimited advantage cannot be accepted. The earth belongs to itself and to all the component members of the community.123 Berry points out the mistaken nature of th e assumption that the earth exists solely for present human use. Present social and ec onomic reality reveals humans as selfproclaimed privileged possessors of natural (animal, plant, and mineral resources), and even other people, as reveal ed through the many instances throughout history of slave trading, sweat-shop labor, and harsh working conditions – pure examples of Heidegger’s standing reserve. As possessors, the earth, along w ith its inhabitants and resources, become possessions – things owned and present for consumptive use. 123 Thomas Berry. “The Viable Human.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995). 12


45 DE challenges the inherent use standpoint, a challenge Naess endorses where he writes, “The earth does not belong to humans.”124 Furthermore, in the deep ecological approach, Humans only inhabit the lands, using resource s to satisfy vital needs. And if their non-vital needs come in conflict with th e vital needs of nonhumans, then humans should defer to the latter. The ecological destruction now going on will not be cured by a technological fix. Current arro gant notions in i ndustrial (and other) societies must be resisted.125 A fundamental aspect of ‘int rinsic value’ includes allowi ng “all entities (including humans) the freedom to unfold in their own wa y unhindered by the various forms of human domination .”126 There is a fundamental distinction between vital needs and created needs (wants): between what we truly need and what we merely think (or are influenced to think) we need. The former are in trinsic to flourishing, the latter are not and may, when carried too far, actually hinder flourishing. Fritjof Capra writes: “The most important task for a new school of ethics will be to develop a non-anthropocentric theory of value, a theory that would confer inherent value on non-human forms of life.”127 Intrinsic value, as noted above, does not derive from the individuality of that particular organism, but is deeper than the individuality of the individual. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realiz ation of these values and are also values in themselves. 124 Arne Naess. “The Deep Ecological Movement: Some Philosophical Aspects.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995). 74 125 Ibid. 126 Ibid. 127 Fritjof Capra, “Deep Ecology: A New Paradigm,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995). 20


46 Naess speaks of a “core democracy in the biosphere.”128 This introduces a necessary “diversity of bo th human and non-human life.”129 Diversity lends itself to the strength of an ecosystem, such as a wild fo rest, where a greater number of species leads to greater resilience to disease, more mutual resources for the inhabiting organisms of the area, and overall ecosystemic integrity. N aess thus formulates “Maximum diversity! Maxim symbiosis!” as a core representative tenet of the deep ecological approach. Core democracy refers to much more than the organisms in a single environmental niche. Change and interfer ence, such as a lightning strike causing a wildfire in a wooded area, are integral aspects of the biosphere. Nevertheless, we can assert that the maximization of diversity and symbiosis includes a preservation of otherness. Rather than deri ving nature from the single axiomatic point of human benefit, DE, encourages maximization of diversity. “What is at issue here is precisely the question of the integrity of nonhuman species and indivi duals in terms of their “otherness” and difference from hu mans, and a respect for the ongoing integrity of wild evolutionary processes.”130 The idea is to minimize human instrumental interference as much as possible, only causing disturbances for vital needs and interests. Deep Ecology thus involves a move aw ay from viewing the other as “enemy,” and thus away from the Hobbesian para digm that the state of nature is fundamentally hostile to human flourishi ng – “a state of war with any and all others.”131 128 Arne Naess. “Simple In Means, Rich in Ends” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995) 29 129 Ibid. 29 130 George Sessions. “Deep Ecology and the New Age Movement.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995). 304 131 Thomas Birch. “The Incarceration of Wilderness: Wilderness Areas as Prisons.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995). 342


47 The preservation of otherness amounts to vastly different circumstances than current trends towards the humanization of nature. Humbleness and openness replace the currently dominant attitude which George Sessions calls “arrogance towards nature.”132 Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs. Current trends in human consumerism are unsustainable, a fact “clearly seen in the damage done to major elements necessa ry for the continued well-being of the planet.”133 When the soil, the air and the water have been extensively depleted, human needs cannot be fulfilled. On the flip side, the current (too) intense focus on present fulfillment leads to greater and greater lack of fulfillment for the future generations who will inherit the effects of our present practices. Gary Gardener notes: the loss of forests, wetlands, and coral reef s to social decay in the world’s most advanced nations…warn us of creeping corrosion in the favored development model of the twentieth cent ury. That model, used by developers as well as industrial nations, is materials-intensive, driven by fossil fuels, based on mass consumption and mass-disposal, and orient ed primarily toward economic growth – with insufficient regard for meetin g people’s needs. In 1992, the U.N. Conference on Environment and Developmen t (the Earth Summit) challenged this model and offered a comprehensive alternat ive. It called the human family to a new experience – that of sustainable development .134 Thomas Berry cites unsustainable trends as resulting directly from “a humancentered norm of reality and value.”135 A wider (deeper) view is needed. Again, to say so is not to be anti-human, but anti-anthropocentric in the sense that current practices are based on fundamentally flawed conceptions of both human and non-human nature. Andrew McLaughlin emphasizes the dis tinction between vi tal and non-vital needs. “This distinction is de nied by the consumerism inherent in industrialism. To lose 132 Ibid. 304 133 Ibid. 134 Flavin, State of The World Report 2002 4 135 Thomas Berry. “The Viable Human.” 10


48 sight of it is to become trapped within an endlessly repeating cycl e of deprivation and temporary satiation.”136 Our current consumerist culture fueled through advertising and manipulative psychological tactics, puts enormous stress on replacement purchases. A constant growth economy maintains moment um through constant sales. Long-term durable goods cut into total sales. Not only that: Deep, long-term satisfaction with current possessions is actually detrimental to overall economic gr owth. Today, helping corporations to increase pr ofits is even equated with American “patriotism,” demonstrating the fusion of ideology and tec hnology in the interests of a constant growth economy. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantially smaller human population. The flourishing of non-human life requires a smaller human population. Present human interference with the non-hum an world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening The Population Explosion by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, holds the following claim: In short, human numbers and human behavi or must be brought into line with the constraints placed upon Homo sapiens by the limits of Earth and the laws of nature. People who think those can be ignored or evaded are living in a dream world. They haven’t reflected on the four million years it took for humanity to build a population of two billion people, in contrast to the forty-six years in which the second two billion appeared and the twenty-two years it will take for the arrival of the third two bill ion. They have overlooked th e most important trend of our time.137 The issue of population growth is tied di rectly to deep ecologists’ concern for future generations. The predominant hu man focus up to the present has been reproduction for the survival of the species. Due to vast improvements in nutrition, 136 Andrew McGlauglin. “The Heart of Deep Ecology,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995). 87 137 Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The Population Explosion. (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1990). 44


49 public health (such as hand washing and sani tation), immunization a nd antibiotics, “what had been a billion people around 1800 became 1.6 billion in 1900, 2.5 billion by 1950, and 6.1 billion by 2000.”138 Such exponential growth increases coupled with increases in consumption (and corresponding waste and pollution) levels, means unchecked population growth is a real pr oblem, especially for futu re generations. “We should collectively recognize that an increase in hum an numbers is not in the best interest of humans, much less the rest of life.”139 A call for population reduction is a call fo r balance. “Humans have modified the earth over their entire histor y and will probably continue to do so. At issue is the nature and extent of such interference. ”140 Policies must therefore be changed. These policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present. Much of the relevance of this point has already been discussed in the previous two sections on ethics and technology. Due to th e lack of a substantial divide between ontology and ethics, we see justifications for ch ange in the actuality of current affairs. The burden of proof falls not on environm entalists, but on the perpetuators of technocratic ideologies: those w ho claim that material wealth does indeed lead to happiness, despite massive evidence to the contrary, such as that revealed in the Worldwatch Institute’s State of The World Report (2002). Policy changes proceeding from deep-self appeals and concern for future generations will differ greatly from current present-centered consumer focuses. The 138 Flavin, State of the World Report 2002 129 139 Andrew McGlaughlin. “The H eart of Deep Ecology.” 88 140Arne Naess. “The Deep Ecological Movement: Some Philosophical Aspects.” 69


50 currently blurry line between vital needs and mere wants must be clarified. Human rights will be seen as more than instrumental “rights to…” The ideological change will be mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awar eness of the difference between bigness and greatness. When argumentation shifts from short-term to long-term, axioms necessarily shift as well. Arguments are constructed upon f oundational assumptions that are deeper and broader in terms of ethical consideration: they consid er non-humans (and more) as worthy ethical subjects (considered as possible ethical patients). In order to uncover deeper assumptio ns, the deep ecologist asks “deeper questions.”141 “In DE, we ask whether the present so ciety fulfills basic human needs like love and security and access to nature, and, in so doing, we question our society’s underlying assumptions.”142 In America, at present, ther e exists the strange combination of an amazingly high number of affluent citiz ens with staggering rates of depression and anxiety. Deep ecologists view this correlati on as a result of a co llective (ideologically influenced) emphasis on the quantity of possessions the trad emark of an “ultimately unsatisfying consumerism” 143 over a simpler and deeper quality of life. McLaughlin writes: With a focus on quality, people can see that existing patterns of labor and consumption are not satisfying, but rath er involve chronic dissatisfaction. Moving towards an appreciation of the quality of life, instead of quantities of things, leads to an increase in happiness, not a decreas e. This is fundamental, since people are more apt to change when they experience change as improvement, rather than a grudging s ubmission to necessity. As long as 141 Stephen Bodian. “Simple in Means, Rich in Ends: An Interview with Arne Naess,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century, (Boston, Shambhala, 1995) 27 142 Ibid. 143 Andrew McGlauglin. “The Heart of Deep Ecology.” 89


51 environmentalism seems to require only denial and sacrifice, its political effectiveness will be lessened. Deep Ecology seeks a more satisfactory way of living, an increase in vitality and joy [author’s emphasis].144 Old paradigms are “inadequate for dealing with the problems of our overpopulated, globally interconnected world.”145 For the deep ecologi st, our crisis is a “crisis of perception.”146 DE proposes a change not just in policy, and attitude: it goes deeper by rooting the ne cessity of these change s in a different philosophical account of how we as experiencing subjec ts (actively) perceive (and construct ) “reality.” The paradigm that is now receding has dominated our culture for several hundred years, during which time it has shaped our modern Western society and has significantly influenced the rest of the worl d. This paradigm consists of a number of ideals and values, among them the view of the universe as a mechanical system composed of elementary building blocks, the view of the human body as a machine, the view of life in society as a competitive struggle for existence, the belief in unlimited material progre ss to be achieved through economic and technological growth, an last but not least, the belief th at a society in which the female is everywhere subsumed under the male is one that follows a basic law of nature. In recent decades, all of these a ssumptions have been found to be severely limited and in need of radical revision.147 The already cited link between ethics and ontology, as well as intrinsic value grounded in self-emergence, all have a role to play as realizations in the progression out of the traditional m echanistic ontology. Those who subscribe to the forgoing points ha ve an obligation directly or indirectly to implement the necessary changes. “The planet that ruled itself directly fo r the past millennia is now determining its future through human decision.”148 Deep ecologists recognize the greater value of the larger community of life. At the same tim e, they do not take lightly modern human 144 Ibid. 145 Fritjof Capra. “Deep Ecology: A New Paradigm.” 19 146 Ibid. 147 Ibid. 19-20. 148 Thomas Berry. “The Viable Human.” 10


52 claims to technological superior ity. Superiority of technologi cal ability is not equivalent to superiority of the human species itself, or the right to plunder all others. If anything, this “higher” standpoint places an ethical re sponsibility upon the humans to preserve the other specie apparently not so endowed. Once we grant that a change from an an thropocentric to a bi ocentric sense of reality and value is needed, we must ask how this can be achieved and how it would work. We must begin by accepting th e fact that the life community of all living species is the greater reality and the greater value, and that the primary concern of the human must be the preser vation of this larger community. The human does have its own distinctive reality and its own distinctive value, but this distinctiveness must be articulated within the more comprehensive context. The human ultimately must discover the larger di mensions of its own being within this community context. That the value of the human being is enhanced by diminishing the value of the larger community is an il lusion, the great illusion of the present industrial age, which seek s to advance the human by plundering the planet’s geological structure a nd all its biological species.149 “The earth belongs to itself and to all the component members of the community.”150 This attitude is th e opposite of one in whic h, for instance, technology reveals ecosystems as ordered resource pools set in place specifically for human use. We thus return to Naess’s fundame ntal distinction between ‘sha llow’ and ‘deep’ ecologies. The “necessary changes” cited above must go d eeper than mere modification of industrial or legislative procedures, or new regulati ons of the same economic processes. Efforts are made to mitigate the evils consequent to this industrial-commercial process by modifying the manner in wh ich these establishments function, reducing the amount of toxic waste produced as well as developing more efficient modes of storing or detoxifying waste. Yet all of this is trivial in relation to the magnitude of the problem. So, too, are th e regulatory efforts of the government; these are microphase solutions for macrophase problems.151 149 Ibid. 150 Ibid. 12 151 Ibid. 16-17


53 Naess’s characterization of deep-ecological attitudes as “simple in means but rich in ends”152points to a move away from top-dow n inclinations towards ecologicalmindedness. The heart of the critique of sh allow ecological approaches to environmental problems is connected to avoidance of excessi ve restrictions on a populace in order to simulate action in the “right” direction. When changes are deep and wide enough, people act on natural (practically spontaneous) inclinati ons rather than out of a sense of abstract duty or the fear of punishment, resu lting in “beautiful actions.” I have an extreme appreciation of what Kant calls “beautiful actions” (good actions based on inclination), in contrast with actions which are performed out of a sense of duty or obligation. The choice of the formulation “Self-realization!” is in part motivated by the belief that matu rity in humans can be measured along a scale from selfishness to an increased r ealization of Self, that is, by broadening and deepening the self, rather than being measured by degrees of dutiful altruism.153 Stress on duty or guilt emphasizes the narro w substantial self which DE seeks to re-define and overcome. The narrow-self lack s an inclination toward beautiful acts: she thus needs some form of legi slation or regulation to keep her in check. Deep Ecology aims to move away from coercion and to wards self-enlightened actions – actions motivated from within, and performed thr ough inclination and conviction. A “move away” from narrowness correspond s directly with the widening of the Self that is the subject of the following section. Like the Being of beings the beauty of a beautiful act is deeper than the particularity of the agent’s identity. The “deeper” quality of such acts corresponds to a “deeper” self that performs them: the subj ect of the next section. 152 Naess. “The Deep Ecological Move ment: Some Philosophical Aspects.” 82 153 Ibid.


54 D. Deep Self and Self-Realization Fritjof Capra says “the most important task for a new school of ethics will be to develop a non-anthropocent ric theory of value.”154 The previous section dealt briefly with the shortcomings of traditional value theories. Their deficiencies are due to their focus on the narrow self which deep ecology seeks to widen. DE does not seek to merely extend traditional ethical frameworks to include non-human beings; these ethical frameworks themselves are problematic. Their problems are tr aceable to the narrowness of the self (subject) that adopts and em ploys such frameworks – to whom such frameworks make sense – as well as to presuppositions of substa ntial objective presence. We are thus dealing with a shift in percep tion, rather than a mere extens ion of the bounds of the same ethical paradigm. John Rodman critiques Peter Singer’s ethics in such a light. Rodman calls Singer’s approach “a kind of zoocentric sentientism,”155 resulting from a mere widening of anthropocentrism in which “we are asked to assume that the sole value of rain forest plant communities consists in being a na tural resource for birds, possums, veneer manufacturers, and ot her sentient beings.”156 Singer’s ethics thus amounts, for Rodman, to a kind of “moral extensionism” which tends …to perpetuate the atomistic metaphysics th at is so deeply embedded in modern culture, locating intrinsic va lue only or primarily in i ndividual persons, animals, plants, etc. rather than in communities or ecosystems, since individuals are our paradigmatic entities for thinking, being conscious, and feeling pain…Many of the attempts to make [such claims to intrinsic value] plau sible have, however, tried to extend the sphere of intrinsic value and therefore of obligatory moral concern by assimilating (parts of) natu re to inappropriate models, without rethinking very thoroughly ei ther the assumptions of c onventional ethics or the 154 Fritjof Capra. “Deep Ecology: A New Paradigm.” 20 155 John Rodman. “Four Forms of Ecological Consciousness Reconsidered.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. (Boston, Shanbhala Press, 1995). 125 156 Ibid.


55 ways in which we perceive and interpret the natural world. It is probably a safe maxim that there will be no revolutio n in ethics without a revolution in perception.157 The transformations within religion are but one strand of the development, to be sure. But, as with all religious influen ce, the impact of this transformation has been a profoundly deep one. Sessions also consider s the impact of changes in intellectual traditions, particularly “the intellectual st rand in Greek and Western culture” which …also exhibits a similar development from early ecocentric animistic Nature religions, the Nature-oriented (but less an imistic) cosmological speculations of the Pre-Socratics, to the anthropocentrism of the classical Athenian philosophers. Beginning with Socrates, philosophical speculation was characterized by “an undue emphasis upon man as compared w ith the universe,” as Betrand Russell and other historians of Western philos ophy have observed…With the culmination of Athenian philosophy in Aristotle, an anthropocentric system of philosophy and science was set in place that was to play a major role in shaping Western thought until the seventeenth century. Aristotle re jected the Pre-Socratic ideas of an infinite universe, cosmological and biol ogical evolution, and heliocentrism. He proposed instead an Earth-centered finite universe wherein humans, by virtue of their rationality, were differe ntiated from, and seen as superior to, animals and plants. Aristotle promoted the hierarch ical concept of the “Great Chain of Being,” in which Nature made plants for the use of animals, and animals were made for the sake of humans ( Politics I.88)158 Such are the roots of the Modern Eur opean intellectual trad ition, according to Sessions. It is no surprise th at science and the scientific method also follow suit. “The Scientific Revolution also overturned the ageold organic view of the world as a living organism and replaced it with a mechanis tic clockwork image of the world as a machine.”159 But most deep ecological theorists w ill tend to cite Descartes as the Father of the atomism of self. His mind-body dualism resulted in a view that “only human had minds (or souls): all other creature s were merely bodies (machines).”160 Descartes firmly 157 Ibid. 158 Ibid. 159-160 159 Ibid. 161 160 Ibid.


56 held to the belief that the new science w ould make humans the “masters and possessors of nature.”161 The historian Lynn White, in his essay The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis, writes of how the beginnings of agricultur al technology is marked by a change in peasant and farmer attitudes towards nature: an onset of a viewpoint in which “Man and nature are two things and man is master.”162 Indeed, human attitudes towards ecology have always been strongly influenced by re ligion. The Christian defeat of Paganism, which White calls “the greatest psychic re volution in the history of our culture,”163incited the reign of “the most anthropocen tric religion the world has seen.”164 White’s points serve as a poten tial spur to a more ecolo gically conscious Christian attitude towards nature, to be sure. But out side of the Christian scope, his criticisms merely point to the same culprit that DE s eeks to overcome: the prevalence of a narrow self. DE seeks to reawaken “the immediat e experience humans have of the world” which is, according to Naess and Sessions, among others, In terms of manifolds of gestalts, as opposed to the “abstract st ructures” of reality we find, for instance, in musical notation a nd science, or of the world as we are culturally conditioned to perceive it in terms of individual entities “externally related” to one another. The latter [is]…the “supermarket view.”…It is crucial…for members of the Deep Ecology movement to articulate reality in terms of gestalt perception and ontology, fo r the competing claims of developers and environmentalists are often based on egoistic “marketplace” perception, as opposed to ecological gestalts.165 161 Ibid. 162 Lynn White. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis.” Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application, 2nd Edition (New York, Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998). 18 163 Ibid. 164 Ibid. 165 George Sessions. Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995). 192-193


57 The spontaneity of the Gestalt experience is important here. It manifests a tie to all of the most important aspects of DE: the total-field image, the natural process of growth, the widening of self and the meaning of deep and wide ethical consideration. It is why Naess says, quoted above, that “Our pr oblem is not that we lack high levels of integration (that is that we are immature and therefore joyless) but ra ther that we glorify immaturity.” The narrowness of self that DE seeks to overcome through widening is not an intrinsic narrowness, just as substantial obj ective presence is not the sole primordial source of what it is to exist “in” a world. Self is rather intrinsically wide. And this is why DE is a reaction to non-thought The preservationist will admit that there are trees in the forest. But the forest as a whole is an extremely valuable superord inate gestalt and clearly vulnerable to “development,” whatever the fraction of the area that is destroyed. An atomistic view of reality is arrived at by systema tically “delearning” the gestalt view which dominates the child’s expe rience…Clearly, the economics of industrial societies are such that most consequences of gest alt ontology are viewed as undesirable. The atomistic view helps to value the forest in terms of market prices, of extrinsic parts, and tourism. “A tree is a tr ee. How many do you have to see?”…The “delearning process (of not taking spont aneous experiences of superordinate gestalts seriously) makes life progressive ly less rich, narrowing it down to a mass of externally connected details. The mo re people are adapted to the supermarket concept, the more dangerous is the ap peal to the correctness of majority opinion…There are many causes of such a mistaken policy, but one cause seems to be the lack of clear and forceful th inking in terms of wholes, rather than fragments.166 Deep Ecology approaches the problem from the angle of se lf. It considers that the scope and definition of the self may lie at th e heart of the problem, rather than merely assuming our current notions of self as givens The “lack of clear and forceful thinking in terms of wholes, rath er than fragments” is seen to li e at the heart of “evil” acts. As narrowness gives way to wideness, immaturity gives way to maturit y, isolation gives way to richness, anthropocentrism gi ves way to a beautifully dive rse world of creatures, and 166 Ibid. 245


58 selfishness gives way to openness, understandin g, and love: the qualiti es ethical theorists have strived for all along.


59 Chapter Three: Deep Ecology and Heideggerian Phenomenology A. The Ontological Transformation The previous chapter concludes with a remark that seems to defy the boundary between ontology and ethics. But this “defia nce” is an issue only if such a boundary really exists. It is clear from our investig ations into Heidegger’s thought that Heidegger aims at a transformation of ontology. Heide gger and Naess clearly agree on the need for such a transformation. The assertion of a boundary betw een ontology and ethics that “ really exists” is an assertion of a substantial boundary, and thus at least im plicitly an assertion of substance. Insofar as the traditional concept of substan ce is Heidegger’s target, an undermining of substance is an undermining of s ubstantial categori cal boundaries as primordial. That is: Heidegger and Naess both assert that substance ontology is not primordial ontology. “Substance,” as Heidegger points out in the Letter on Humanism is a blanket translation of ousia. By calling it a “blanket” translat ion, Heidegger is pointing to the homogenizing effect of th e word “substance” that conceals the deeper meaning of ousia “a word that designates the presence of what is present and at the same time, with puzzling ambiguity, usually means what is present itself.”167 Such “ambiguity” is thus lost in the translation from ousia to substance. But this loss, we will see, is much more significant than a mere bad choice of words. 167 Martin Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, (New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1993). 133


60 Analogous to the relation between ousia and substance is the relationship between the true and the merely correct Heidegger says in The Question Concerning Technology that The correct always fixes upon somethi ng pertinent in whatever is under consideration. However, in order to be correct, this fixing by no means needs to uncover the thing in question in its essence. Only at the point where such an uncovering happens does the true come to pass. For that reason the merely correct is not yet the true. Only the true brings us into a free relationship with that which concerns us from out of its essence.168 The mistake of the technological worldvi ew is a taking of the “correct” for the “true.” Heidegger says that the correct does indeed fix on some thing “pertinent” or “true.” But there is a differen ce between fixing upon the true and being the true. Something “correct” adheres to a rule structur e. But what is it that makes a structure “true”? What is the truth of a true structure? We see an example of the difference be tween the correct and the true in the account of Rosa Parks, the African-American wo man who refused to mo ve to the back of the city bus on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery Alabama. Parks took her stand in the face of the Jim Crow era and its racist laws and regulations, a stand that not surprisingly resulted in her arrest. Now according to the la ws of the day, the arrest of Rosa Parks was certainly correct But were the laws upon whic h such correctness is founded true ? To ask this question is to question beneath the correctness of the matter: an instance of the deeper questioning that Heidegger and Naess advocate as nece ssary for the ontological transformation out a mere correctness that masquerades as the true. In a similar manner, we are “correct” in de fining the “value” of a natural area in cost-benefit analysis terms. One need only th ink of the frequent debates between Gifford 168 Heidegger, Question 6


61 Pinchot, the founder of the “wise-use” movement, and J ohn Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club and a well-known preservationist. For Pinchot, it was “wise” to use the resources a land area had to offe r, and pointless to let that area be. For Muir, natural wilderness areas were intrinsically valuable meaning that the human cost-benefit conception of the “value” of such areas was not the d eepest possible conception. The technological worldview falters when it treats its own definition of the real as something more than a particular definiti on for a particular purpose. That the technological definition of the real becomes a worldview means that it usurps the primordial, putting itself in the place of that which underlies it and allows it to come forth as a perspective at all. But “that” which “allows” is not a thing Identification of the primordial with some deeper thing is exactly the substance-ontological mistake targeted by Heidegger and Naess as the source of the distortion of the modern technological definition of the real: “the metaphysical de termination according to which every being appears as the material of labor.”169 But if we are to keep our inquiry in li ne with Heidegger’s inquiry, we cannot stop at “material for labor.” We must ask: upon what is “the metaphysical determination according to which every being appears as th e material of labor” based? Heidegger identifies a deeper basis in the mathematical In Modern Science, Metaphysics, and Mathematics, he speaks of a will to axiomatic knowledge grounded in unshakeable propositions. Such serves as the ground-pl an for both science and the application of technological know-how in the modern era. 169 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, 243


62 Heidegger is careful to point out that “mathematics itself is only a particular formation of the mathematical.”170 The Greek expression ta mathemata means what can be learned and, at the same time, what can be taught. In our modern age, especially in public grade school education, “teaching” is done by assisting students in the memorization and subsequent recitation of data : facts, formulae, names, dates, important events. But the Greek conception is different: Learning is a kind of grasping and appr opriating. But not every taking is a learning…To take means in some way to take possession of a thing and have disposal over it. Now, what kind of taking is learning? Mathemata – things, insofar as we learn them…The mathemata are the things insofar as we take cognizance of them as what we already know them to be in advance, the body as the bodily, the plant-like of the plant, and so on…[G]enuine learning is therefore an extremely peculiar taking, a taking wh ere one who takes only takes what one basically already has. Teaching is a givi ng, an offering; but what is offered in teaching is not the learnable, for the stude nt is merely instructed to take for himself what he already has. If the st udent only takes over something that is offered he does not learn. He comes to learn only when he experiences what he takes as something he himself really al ready has. True learning occurs only where the taking of what one already has is a self-giving and is experienced as such.171 The mathematical eventually became, according to Heidegger, “a project of thingness which, as it were skips over things.”172 It does so no doubt due to the idea that what is taught is what is already known beforehand. Moreov er, “the project first opens a domain where things – i.e ., facts – show themselves.”173 That is: upon the basis of the mathematical as what is already known beforehand, the mathematical becomes a comportment through which things appear as “this” or “tha t.” Through the lens of the mathematical, “things now show themselves only in the relations of places and time 170 Martin Heidegger, “Modern Scien ce, Metaphysics, and Mathematics,” Basic Writings (New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1993). 273 171 Ibid. 275 172 Ibid. 291 173 Ibid.


63 points and in the measures of mass and working forces. How they show themselves is prefigured in the project.”174 Heidegger’s examination of the prefigur ing of acceptable knowledge concerns the prefiguring of the “true.” He is not attempting to reveal the application of mathematical knowledge as faulty: there is far too much ev idence in support of the effectiveness of mathematical method in problem solving, sc ientific experimentation, and so-called “mastery” of nature by humans. The problem lies in the assumption that such successes point to the mathematical comportment as the comportment: as the one way of grasping the real. To put it another way: while He idegger clearly acknowledges the correctness of mathematical method, he doubts the mathematical as primordially true. This doubt of the primordial nature of mathematical comportment, and of the scientific and technolog ical worldviews that draw upon th e mathematical comportment in which nature is represented in terms of a uni form grid-like structure of distinct things, leads Heidegger, in The Thing, to question beneath the mathematical as well: An independent, self-supporting thing may b ecome an object if we place it before us, whether in immediate perception or by bringing it to mind in a recollective representation. However, the thingly char acter of the thing does not consist in being a represented object, nor can it be defined in any way in terms of the objectness, the over-againstness, of the obj ect…What in the thing is thingly? What is the thing in itself? We shall not reach the thing in itself until our thinking has first reached the thing as thing.175 Heidegger’s deeper inquiry and Naess’s deeper questioning are both challenges to the modern scientific “way of representing…that pursues and entraps nature as a calculable coherence of forces,”176 insofar as this way of representing comes to be regarded as primordial : as the way of representing. Insofar as representation is the 174 Ibid. 292 175 Heidegger, “The Thing,” Poetry, 167-168 176 Heidegger, Question, 21


64 apprehension of a specific object by a specifi c subject, the challenge is posed towards representing itself as primordial. We have already discussed Heidegger’s conception of technology as a mode of revealing. 177 Revealing in turn, is that of which technology is a mode. Heidegger shows the root of the technological in techne which, as belonging to bringing-forth ( poiesis ), is a mode of aletheia. As such, “Technology comes to presence [ West ] in the realm where revealing and unconcealment take place, where aletheia truth, happens.”178 We thus find ourselves closer to the “root” of our inquiry. What is the “realm” where aletheia happens? B. Ereignis Heidegger’s phenomenology reveals substa nce ontology as rooted in a prior ontology. The theory of being (onto-logos) is made possible by an event which itself cannot be understood in substance ontologica l terms, and so has to be understood in terms of event ontology. The ontology prior to substan ce ontology is thus not an ontology based upon a substantial or axioma tic ground in the way some think that Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy is rooted in the certai nty of the “I think.” The prior ontology to which Heideg ger is pointing is rather an event ontology That is: it is an ontology based upon the event of unconcealment ( aletheia ) – the “realm” where aletheia, truth, happens. In Being and Time, Heidegger distinguishes between the readiness-to-hand and presence-at-hand of things. The former is a presence in usage, whereas the latter is a 177 See Chapter One, 6-7. 178 Heidegger, Question 12-13


65 conspicuous presence as object In the famous example of the workshop, the hammer only becomes conspicuous when the flow of production in the workshop is disrupted, e.g. by the breaking of the hammer. Readiness-to-hand is an event that when disrupted leads to the conspicuous presence-at-hand of the object. “Usage” designates a flow of activity that yields an objective representation in th e event of the disruption of that flow of activity. Such “conspicuous presence” means the objective presence (over-againstness) of the object as object for a subject. The cons picuous object stands over-against the subject whom upon the event of the disr uption not only notices the hammer as an object, but also herself as disrupted from the previous flowi ng of activity. The disr uption thus results not only in the objective presence of the object to a subject, but al so the objective presence of the subject to herself. There is thus a mutual objective presence of both object and subject as distinct, whereas pr ior to the disruption there was a flow of activity in which such a distinction wa s not an issue. Such mutual objective presen ce is embedded within a grid framework of objective representations. This grid framework is the same framework though which the mathematical comportment renders reality into a “calculable cohere nce of forces”: the representation of a set of speci fic objects by a specific subject. The homogeneity of the conspicuous objective presence of the present-at-hand and the presence of objects within the mathematical grid is important for our present discussion in that both the presence-athand of the conspicuous hammer and the objective presence of object to subject (and subject to itself) are phenomenologically revealed as founded modes of being (not


66 primordial) Objecthood is shown to be derivative fr om a more primordial way of being which can only be captured in terms of an event ontology But what is an event ontology ? “Event” is the English word for the German Ereignis : the opening of a clearing in which entities can appear as “this” or “that.” The stress is placed on opening and clearing as the activity out of/through which the appearance of entities as “this” or “that” takes place. It is in these terms that we claim the event ontology to be prior to any possible substance ontology. In turn, it is upon this basis that we question beneath any particular “this” or “that. ” We are not interested in the givenness of entities, but rather what brings such givenness about Our question is a question of origin It is upon such a basis th at Heidegger asserts: The fact that physiology and physiological ch emistry can scientif ically investigate man as an organism is no proof that in this “organic” thing, that is, in the body scientifically explained, the essence of man consists. That has as little validity as the notion that the essence of nature has been discovered in atomic energy. It could be that nature, in the face it turn s towards man’s technical mastery, is simply concealing its essence. Just as little as the essence of man consists in being an animal organism can this insu fficient definition of man’s essence be overcome or offset by outfitting man with an immortal soul, the power of reason, or the character of a person. In each instance essence is passed over, and passed over on the basis of the same metaphysical projection .179 “Metaphysical projection” designates any projection insofar as it holds any particular conception of the being of beings as primordial. It is metaphysical (in the substance metaphysical sense) if it suggests that a proj ection is something other than a projection within a particular cultural context for a particular purpose, e.g. the projection that claims that the cost-benefit analysis of a wilderness area reveals it as being primordially a resource pool for humans. Metaphys ics, as confined within the grid 179 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings. 228-229; my emphasis


67 representation of objective presence, tends to redu ce the underlying event of clearing to either “outward appearance” of an object to a subject or the projection of a subject, i.e. “a result of categorical representation on the part of subjectivity. This means that the truth of Being as the clearing itself remains concealed for metaphysics.”180 Claiming that the event ontology is prior to any substance ontology undermines the substantial representation of any objective conception as ground. If such undermining applies to the objective presence of any object for a subject, it must also apply to the objective presence of a subject to itself It is upon this basis that Heidegger rejects the Cartesian foundi ng of metaphysics upon the ‘ I think’ ( cogito ). Thus, if event ontology is prior to any substance ontology in terms of any object ive representation serving as a substantial-metaphysical ground, ev ent ontology must also be prior to the traditional metaphysical notion of the subject. It is for this reason that Da-sein cannot be understood in any substantial/metaphysical sense. Upon the positing of event ontology as prior to substance ontology, it becomes necessary to re-define the notion of the subject: this is the reason why Heidegger abandons the word “subject” in favor of “ Da-sein .” Da-sein instead becomes rendered in terms of event ontology. As such, Da-sein means an openness to the event of clearing ( Ereignis ) in which entities appear as “t his” or “that,” or, as Thomas Sheehan puts it, “openness”181 or the “dative of givenness.”182 We might be tempted to ask at this point if, as the “dative of givenness,” Da-sein is the clearing for Ereignis, or is Ereignis as the “event of clearing,” the clearing for Da180 Ibid. 235 181 Thomas Sheehan. “Kehre and Eriegnis: A Prolegomenon to Introduction to Metaphysics ,” A Companion to Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphsyics (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2001) 5 182 Ibid. 7


68 sein ? But a more interesting (a nd relevant) question would be to ask what this question presupposes. On closer inspection, the question appears to expect sa tisfaction of one or the other side of an either-or But does not such either-or questioning stem from a rootedness in substance metaphysics in whic h concepts are distinguished as points on a grid? That is: in light of what we have established so far with regard to questioning beneath objective representations rooted in substance metaphysics, does such an either-or questioning impose an actual demand upon us for an answer? Heidegger’s phenomenology reveals such mu tual exclusivity as a function of the substance metaphysics to be overcome. If our investigation into the origin of givenness takes us beneath substance metaphysics, it takes us not only beneath the substantiality of objective representations, but also be neath the substant iality of rigid distinctions between such objective representations, e.g. the appa rently “substantial” distinction between ontology and ethics with which we opened the present chapter. The conception of reality according to an event ontology that is prior to any substance ontology allows room for the possibility of reciprocity “between” the givenness of Ereignis and the openness of Da-sein Thus, the event ontology serves as the proper theoretical foundation for our assertion of the re latedness between Heidegger’s phenomenology and Deep Ecology. Naess writes in Ecology, Community and Lifestyle that ecophilosophy ( ecosophy ) utilizes “basic concepts from the science of ecology – such as complexity, diversity, and symbiosis – to clarify the place of our species within nature through the working out of a total view.”183 The kind of event ontology we have identified in Heidegger’s writings, not the traditional substance ontology, allows for such utilization. 183 Naess. Ecology, Community and Lifestyle, 3


69 It is important to note that “total” in the sense of Naess’s idea of a “total view” is not an isolated totality. An isolated totality is a feature of the substance ontology to be overcome. Rather, read in terms of the ev ent ontology, “The world provides us with a flood of information, but that wh ich represents itself as livi ng entities is characterized by a certain natural life, which come s to us as a conviction that identity is inherent only in the relationships which make up the entity .”184 We may thus assert (at first tentatively) that symbiosis expressed through ecosystemic relati onships is an expression of the reciprocity between the givenness of Ereignis and the openness of Da-sein “We are searching for the nature, in itself, of the openness that surrounds us.”185 We could also just as easily assert this recipr ocity as an expression of organic symbiosis The main point of Heidegger’s critique of the substance onto logical comportment is that any particular description of an event reifies that event into a closed conception The inability of any particular word to encomp ass that of which it is an expression is due to the fact that “a word does not and ne ver can represent anything; but signifies something, that is, shows something as abid ing into the range of its expressibility.”186 That is: there is “something” deeper than any particular wo rd that, though it gets expressed by/through words, is never contained in any particular word. What “we have designated by a word never has that wo rd hanging on it like a name plate.”187 Our question is a question of origin The origin of all objects is itself no object, just as the being of being is not a being. The inexpressibility of the origin of Ereignis is thus due to its non-objective ch aracter. “Just as the openne ss of spatial nearness seen 184 Ibid. 6; my emphasis 185 Martin Heidegger. Discourse on Thinking: A Translation of Gelasenheit. (New York, Harper & Row, 1966). 65-66 186 Ibid. 69 187 Ibid. 70


70 from the perspective of a particular thing exceed s all things near and far, so too is Being essentially broader than all beings because it is the clearing itself.”188 Both Ereignis and Da-sein have this “non-objective” character. As involved in recipr ocal relatedness neither Ereignis nor Da-sein is an isolated object. But neither are Ereignis and Da-sein completely unified into some kind of absolute totality or oneness. Both “isolated object” and “absolute totality ” are expressions of substance ontology Thus, the interrelatedness of Ereignis and Da-sein expressed in terms of an event ontology must mean something other than either “two separate objects related” or “one objective totality” why Naess writes: So, understanding the world as a collection of things with constant or changing qualities breaks down when one attempts to render it very preci se and apply it in natural scientific or historical research. We must strive for greater familiarity with an understanding closer to that of Heraclitus: everything flows. We must abandon fixed, solid points, retaining the relatively straightforward persistent relations of interdependence. ‘Objec tive descriptions of nature’ offered by physics ought to be regarded not as descriptions of natu re, but as descriptions of certain conditions of interdependence, a nd therefore can be universal, common for all cultures…Phenomenologica l viewpoints are valuable for the development of consciousness of a non-instrumental, non-ut ilitarian content of the immediate experience of nature.189 Neither Hediegger’s usage of “Being,” nor Naess’s designation of “wide self” as the “goal” of Self-Realization designates a closed identity. The openness of Da-sein that is necessary for the givenness of Ereignis is interrelated with the givenness of Ereignis “for” which Da-sein as openness clears. So too is the individual seeking Selfrealization in terms of the “widening” and “deepening” of Self interrelated with the ecosystemic “totality” with which the individual identifies. Ne ither the “individual” nor the ecosystemic “totality” is an isolated object. As with Da-sein and Ereignis, each 188 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, 240 189 Naess and Rothenberg, Ecology, Community and Lifestyle, 50-51


71 “needs” the other. To read these conceptio ns in this way is to read them in an eventontological (rather than substance ontological ) way. The presence of the world to Da-sein, as well as Da-sein’s presence to itself, is never complete or perfect. As open Da-sein is “exposed and receptive.” As Sheehan puts it: “we know only the finite intelligibility of entities.”190 It is thus the finitude of Dasein that opens Da-sein to the givenness of Ereignis. But this is not to say that the openness is something based solely in such finitude. If we are to stay with event ontology, we cannot base Da-sein’s opening in any particular ity. Even to call this opening “Da-sein’s” is to risk misinterpret ation by slipping b ack into the assuming language of substance ontology: why Naess says the characteristics of things are “not subjective, but, like smell, bound in an interdependent relationship to our conception of the world. This is what is meant by calling th em ‘relational’ – rather than ‘relative’ or ‘subjective’.”191 Finitude is thus not an expression of atomism, but a relational expression of the unity-in-diversity characteristic of both Heidegger’s event ontology and Naess’s total view. “Wide self” means “open self” – the realization of Da-sein in eventontological terms, as openness C. Event Ontology and Ethics Traditional ethics, as based upon the traditional substance ontology, is typically an instrumentalist ethics, grounded in the mathematical grid-framework out of which the substance ontology functions. The isolation of fact from value, and the corresponding distinction between them, is made possibl e through such a framework. Although this distinction makes sense according to the archit ecture of the substance metaphysical grid 190 Sheehan, “Kehre,” Companion, 12 191 Naess & Rothenberg, Ecology, Community and Lifestyle, 48


72 framework, Heidegger’s event ontology undermines the inevitability of such a rigid distinction. This becomes clearer in what follows. We mentioned how Naess speaks of Kant’s conception of beau tiful actions (in Chapter Two). Such actions are performed not merely out of a strict adherence to rules: they come out of themselves. The event ontology that ge ts expressed in Heidegger’s writings, and especially the concept of Ereignis provides a basis for an ethics based in such “beautiful actions” that the traditional substance ontology cannot provide. “Beautiful actions” express the categoricalness of Kant’s Categorical Imperative. The Categorical Imperative is not an isolated rule to which an individual subject has a duty. The Categorical Imperative is truly fulfilled when the “commanded” action comes of itself Kant claims that an action performed out of inclination is higher than an action done merely because one has been ordered to do so, or because one will feel guilty if one does not perform the action. Naess’s statement of the need in Deep Ecology to move “from ethics to ontology and back” is founded upon the interrelatedness of these two disciplines. Normative values are indeed, as Naess says, ba sed upon non-normative conceptions, although it remains an open question for our discussion whet her such a distinction can ever be truly made. The event ontology requires an interpretation of this statement that holds the normative and the non-normative as in extricably interwoven as a unity. Such interrelatedness is due to the mutual origin of ontology and ethics, fact and value, Ereignis and Da-sein. In terms of the event ontol ogy, this mutual origin gets expressed in answers to que stions like: what exactly must Da-sein do ? What is the imperative for Da-sein according to the event ontology? Heidegger writes:


73 Only so far as man, ek-sisting in the tr uth of Being, belongs to Being can there come from Being itself the assignment of those directives that must become law and rule for man. In Greek, to assign is nemein. Nomos is not only law but more originally the assignment contained in the dispensation of Being. Only such dispatching is capable of supporting and obligating. Otherwise, all law remains merely something fabricated by human r eason. More essential than instituting rules is that man find the way to his abode in the truth of Being. This abode first yields the experience of something we can hold on to. The truth of Being offers a hold for all conduct.192 Being is always made possible by an event of truth Da-sein must be open to receive this truth. Truth comes by way of an “assignment contained in the dispensation of Being.” It is upon this event-ontological basis that we get our answer to the question of what Da-sein must do: Da-sein must both open itself to, and be the clearing for, Being The event ontology thus provides an answer to what Da-sein “must” do in noninstrumentalist terms, since instrumentalism, as a function of the substance ontology, remains in the mathematical realm of objecthood and e fficient causality: Today we are too easily inc lined either to understand be ing responsible and being indebted moralistically as a lapse, or else to construe them in terms of effecting. In either case, we bar to ourselves the wa y to the primal meaning of that which is later called causality. So long as this way is not open ed up to us we shall also fail to see what instrumentality, which is based on causality, actually is.193 We must now proceed with an investigati on into the nature of this “mutual origin” of ethics and ontology: that whic h is the origin of all origin s – the primal source of the event ontology. D. Poiesis We spoke (in Chapter One) of the distinction between “challenging” and “bringing forth.” We now have a much cl earer conception of th e nature of this distinction. Although they are indeed fundamentally different, they nonetheless remain related. What is the nature of this relation? 192 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, 262 193 Heidegger, Question, 9


74 The word stellen [to set…] in the name Ge-stell [Enframing] not only [suggests setting upon or] challenging. At the same time it should preserve the suggestion of another Stellen from which it stems, namely, that producing and presenting [ Herund Dar-stellen ] which, in the sense of poiesis lets what presences come forth into unconcealment. This producing that brings forth – e.g., the erecting of a statue in the temple precinct – a nd the challenging ordering now under consideration are indeed f undamentally different, and yet they remain related in their essence. Both are ways of revealing, of aletheia. In Enframing, that unconcealment comes to pass in conformity with which the work of modern technology reveals the real as standing-reserve. This work is therefore neither only a human activity nor a mere means within such activity. The merely instrumental, merely anthropological defi nition of technology is therefore in principle untenable. And it cannot be r ounded out by being referred back to some metaphysical or religious e xplanation that undergirds it.194 The challenging-ordering is Heidegger’s conceptualization of the violence of modern technology. We identified this “violenc e” in the first chapte r as a “challenging of nature out of phase with natural cycles.”195 But it is not just a challenging of nature. We also challenge ourselves out of phase with our origina lly expressive nature by viewing ourselves in substance-ontological terms as is olated subjects for which a set of material resource objects presents itself. The naturally wide self is narrowed through the rendering of the original wideness of self in to isolated points within the mathematical grid framework of substance metaphysics. The challenging of nature out of phase with natural cycles results in a world in which humans observe and handle only obj ects. Everything gets rendered as present-tohand designated into specific locations for specific purposes accordi ng to what aids the cycles of production and consumption as materi al for labor. But “modern technology as an ordering revealing…is no merely human doing.”196 That is: the substance ontology never annihilates the underlying event ontology. It rather conceals its nature. This 194 Ibid. 21 195 See Chapter 1, p9 196 Ibid. 19


75 nature falls into oblivion due to the obliviousness of human beings to the givenness of Ereignis. Da-sein in turn, closes and narrows itself. And since Da-sein just is the clearing of the “there” in which entities can appear as “this” or “that,” the deformation of Da-sein is also the deformation of possibilities of emergence-into-presence of all beings. Ereignis as givenness constitutes the underlying essence (or more precisely, as Heidegger uses this term, “essential presen cing”) of any particul ar object in its particularity. It is for this reason that the objectification of nature by the substance ontology results not in any primordial obj ectification, but rath er ultimately in objectlessness. That is: the objectification of nature is a loss even of objectness. In the end, all there is nothing but an endless grid of resources on hand for use. Likewise, in rendering Da-sein in terms of the Cartesian subject that is actually an object “man everywhere circles round himself as the animal rationale .”197 The substance ontological interpretation of nature thus amounts to an anthropocentric distanceless homelessness in which humans encounter only themselves. Everything gets regarded instrumentally as strictly for humans. Heidegger employs his phenomenological method in order to view things in themselves just as they show themselves from themselves. In Being and Time, we already see the progression from existence as a work world to deeper and deeper levels of investigation that progressive ly reveal the underlying stru ctures of everydayness. Eventually, in subsequent writings and lect ures, Heidegger questions beneath structuring itself, revealing the event ontology underlying all possible substantial structures: an ontology which is itself no struct ure, but upon which all possibl e structures are erected. This “upon which” is not a mere basing of one thing upon another: Heidegger is well 197 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, 245


76 aware of the phantom of the infinite regress that lurks within such an assumption. It is for this reason that Heidegge r’s phenomenology is utterly consistent with itself in locating the origin of the event ontology in poiesis or bringing-forth. Poiesis as bringing-forth is thus the proper answer to our question of origin Staying with the nature of poiesis as bringing forth is the way thinking remains in its element (as thinking). That is: Thinking comes to an end when it slips out of its element. The element is what enables thinking to be a thinking. The elem ent is what properly enables: it is the enabling [ das Vermogen ]. It embraces thinking and so brings it into its essence. Said plainly, thinking is the thinking of Being. The genitive says something twofold. Thinking is of Being inasmu ch as thinking, propitiated by Being, belongs to Being. At the same time th inking is of Being insofar as thinking, belonging to Being, listens to Being. As the belongi ng to Being that listens, thinking is what is according to its essential origin. Thinking is –this says: Being has fatefully embraced its essence. To embrace a “thing” or a “person” in its essence means to love it, to favor it. Thought in a more original way such favoring [ Mogen ] means to bestow essence as a gi ft. Such favoring is the proper essence of enabling, which not only can ach ieve this or that but also can let something essentially unfold in its pr ovenance, that is, let it be…To enable something here means to preserve it in its essence, to maintain it in its element.198 Da-sein fulfils the essence of its nature by fulfilling the essence of what it is to think : to both open and be the clearing for the givenness of Ereignis Heidegger refers to this “act of Da-sei n” as an act of listening, an embrace a gift It is an act of love. Naess would certainly employ Kant’s ethical languag e here by calling such acts “beautiful.” This act of Da-sein is clearly not an act motivated out of th e kind of competitiveness characteristic of the will to power and do mination. Thus, “Thinking towers above action and production, not through the grandeur of its achievement and not as a consequence of its effect, but through the humbleness of its inconsequential accomplishment.”199 It is in the same spirit that Naess says “the smaller we come to feel ourselves compared to the 198 Ibid. 220 199 Ibid. 262; my emphasis


77 mountain, the nearer we come to participating in its greatness. I do not know why this is so.”200 201 The meaning of poetry as read in terms of the ev ent ontology with regard to language reveals a deeper mean ing than the typical interpre tation of the “poetic” as “a flight into dreamland” or “a part of literature.”202 Although “man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language…in fact language remains the master of man…For, strictly, it is language that speaks.”203 Further, “Man first speaks when, and only when, he responds to language by listening to its appeal.”204 Language beckons us, at first and then agai n at the end, toward a thing’s nature. But that is not to say, ever, that in an y word-meaning picked up at will language supplies us, straight away and definitively, with the transparent nature of the matter as if it were an object ready for use. But the responding in which man authentically listens to the appeal of la nguage is that which speaks in the element of poetry. The more poetic a poet is – th e freer (that is, the more open and ready for the unforeseen) his saying – the greater is the purity with which he submits what he says to an ever more painstaking listening, and the further what he says is from the mere prepositional statement that is dealt with solely in regard to its correctness or incorrectness.205 Heidegger is revealing the meaning of the poetry as the Greeks thought it, i.e. as poiesis. The Greek understanding of poiesis reveals an understanding of the relationship between natural and human activity. Poiesis as bringing forth breaks down into phusis as unaided bringing forth and techne as aided bringing forth Phusis corresponds to the “natural” activity of what comes forth out of itself, e.g. growing organisms like plants and animals, whereas techne designates the activity of what does not come forth strictly of itself, e.g. a painting or a statue. The difference between phusis and techne as modes 200 Naess and Rothenberg, Ecology, 3 201 See also Chapter Two, p5 202 Martin Heidegger, “Poetically Man Dwells,” Poetry, Language, Thought, (New York, Harper Colophon Books, 1971) 213 203 Ibid. 215-216 204 Ibid. 216 205 Ibid.


78 of poiesis and poiesis itself is that whereas the former two occur in the realm of the visible, poiesis itself is, as Julian Young aptly puts it, “utterly mysterious, incomprehensible,” demonstrating that “the Greeks…experienced their world as brought into, and sustained in, being by an over whelmingly powerful, utterly mysterious force.”206 This “utterly mysterious force” is that which expresses itself in both the bursting forth of the blossom into bloom ( phusis ) and “good art” ( techne ), as well as the giving of Ereignis and the opening of Da-sein Poiesis is “what” is cared for when “Man is the shepherd of Being. It is in this direction alone that Being and Time is thinking when ecstatic experience is experienced as ‘care’.”207 Thus, [M]an, as the ek-sisting counter-throw [ Gegenwurf ] of Being, is more than animal rationale precisely to the extent that he is less bound up with man conceived from subjectivity. Man is not th e lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being. Man loses nothing in this “less”; rather, he gain s in that he attains the truth of Being. He gains the essential poverty of the sh epherd, whose dignity consists in being called by Being itself into the preservation of Being’s truth. The call comes as the throw from which the thrownness of Da-sei n derives. In his essential unfolding within the history of Being, man is the being whose Being as ek-sistence consists in his dwelling in the nearness of Be ing. Man is the neighbor of being.208 There is thus a distinction between guardianship and ownership not between “own” and “not-own.” As Naess puts it, “The own/not-own distinction survives only in grammar, not in feeling…[T]he ideology of ownership has no place in an ecosophy.”209 As such, the “poverty” of the shepherd actua lly amounts to the “highest dignity” of Dasein’s essence.210 Thus, the poverty of Dasein’s openness to the givenness of Ereignis amounts to the very openness necessary for the preservation of poiesis as “the primal 206 Julian Young, Heidegger’s Later Philosophy (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2002). 41 207 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, 234 208 Ibid. 245 209 Naess and Rothenberg, Ecology, 175 210 Heidegger, Question, 32


79 mystery of all thinking,”211 and, thus, to a making way for a recovery of the sacred through the recognition and remembrance that “whether and how Being is must remain an open question for the careful atte ntion of thinking.”212 The watching-over of this openness comes about through the careful sustaining of the openness of Da-sein in light of the mysterious bringing-forth of poiesis. But in order to more deeply understand what this statement means, we must go one “step” further. E. Releasement Both Heidegger and Naess are urging th eir readers towards some kind of selftransmutation. For Naess, this transmutation is self-realization, a widening and deepening of the typical narrowness of the isolat ed subject for which the world (subject included) presents itself as an object. For Heidegger, this transmutation is an opening of Da-sein to the primordial self-giving of poiesis expressed by the givenness of Ereignis Although these two transmutati ons appear different in terms of the language through which each view is expressed, they are the same. The deep self of Deep Ecology is the open Da-sein of Heideggerian phenomenology, especi ally as expressed in Heidegger’s later philosophy. Poiesis as bringing forth is the mutual origin of both conceptions. It is this mutuality that serves as the basi s for the assertion of their identity. We must remember however that to understand this “identity” in substance ontological terms is to fail to understand its nature. The event ontology of Heidegger’s thinking provides the proper basis not onl y for getting at the nature of the activity that is 211 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, 238 212 Ibid.; my emphasis


80 being designated by self-realization and the opening of Da-sein but for understanding just “what is to be done” in order to bring about such a deepening and opening of oneself. But the expectation of an instrumental explanation of “what is to be done” is a misunderstanding of the nature of poiesis in the same way that the rendering of a natural area in cost-benefit analysis te rms is a misunderstanding of nature. “What is to be done” cannot be laid out in means-ends terms without stumbling headlong into substance ontological terminology. No acti on of the individual subject qua subject can bring about the kind of openness of which both Heidegger and Naess are speaking. But the question nevertheless persists: what is to be done? Heidegger maintains a virtually consistent avoidan ce of ethical prescriptions throughout the whole of his philosophical career, from the close of Being and Time where he states that we can only know if a path is the only one or even the right one only after we have followed it, to the Letter on Humanism in which he states: Whether the realm of the truth of Being is a blind alley or whether it is the free space in which freedom conserves its essence is something each one may judge after he himself has tried to go the designated way, or even better, after he has gone a better way, that is, a way befitting the question…Let us al so in the days ahead remain as wanderers on the way into the neighborhood of Being.213 Does not the statement “let us remain” invoke at least some semblance of prescription? It certainly appears that Heidegger is calling upon his readers to do something. But even if so, the “catch” lies in what he is calling upon his readers to be : “wanderers.” In a similar fashion, Naess’s frequent reiterations of “Self Realization!” 213 Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, 247


81 appear to be some sort of e xhortation toward a particular way of being. But if these statements are indeed exhortativ e, their nature is peculiar in that we are not given any particular basis as to why their respective suggestions should be heeded rather than disregarded. But how does one satisfy such demands for proper explanation without employing the instrumentalist language characteristic of th e technological worldview? Is Heidegger simply avoiding the issue? Or is he rather remaining consistent with his event ontology by refusing to yield to such demands? In The Question Concerning Technology, he provides a clue. There are others, to be sure. But the following quotation seems particularly apt for our purposes, especia lly in light of what we have established with regard to the role of poiesis as bringing forth in Heidegger’s event ontology : All coming to presence, not only modern technology, keeps itself everywhere concealed to the last. Neve rtheless, it remains, with respect to its holding sway, that which precedes all: the earliest. The Greek thinkers already knew of this when they said: That which is earlier with regard to the arising that holds sway becomes manifest to us men only later. That which is primally early shows itself only ultimately to men. Therefore, in th e realm of thinking, a painstaking effort to think through still more primally what was primally thought is not the absurd wish to revive what is past, but rather the sober readiness to be astounded before the coming of what is early.214 Within this passage lies not only the reje ction of all accusatio ns against Heidegger that his thinking merely demonstrates a kind of rural romanticism that merely aims at a return primitivism, but also the reason behi nd his refusal to answer the question of “what is to be done?” Namely: there is nothing that anyone can do in and of herself to bring about the coming of what is early. All we can do is wait. The logic of such an assertion bears a striking resemblance to the logic of the farmer who knows that screaming at his corn will not make it grow any faster. Ther e are natural cycles ove r which we as humans have no control, and in accordance with which we must plant, wait and harvest. 214 Heidegger, Question, 22; my emphasis


82 Furthermore, such logic is consistent with the poetic nature of the primal origin of the event ontology to which both Heidegger and Naess stress the importance of a return: poiesis is a self-bringing-forth. It is for this reason that techne is second to phusis in the event ontology to which Heidegger appeals, and not the other way around. In like fashion, Da-sein opens itself to the givenness of Ereignis when it cares for the poetic self-bringing-forth of entities as the shepherd of Being. C aring-for and shepherding in turn, is a letting-be. It is for this reason that Da-sein is truly open for the givenness of Ereignis when it makes-way for givenness. Da-sein does not bring such givenness about on its own – why Heidegger writes: If we let the thing be present in its th inging from out of the worlding world, then we are thinking of the thing as thing. Taking thought in this way, we let ourselves be concerned by the thing’s worlding be ing…If we think of the thing as thing, then we spare and protect the thing’ s presence in the region from which it presences. Thinking is the nearing of worl d. Nearing is the nature of nearness. As we preserve the thing qua thing we inhabit nearness. The nearing of nearness is the true and sole dimension of the mirror-play of the world.215 That “thinking is the nearing of world,” i ndicates that thinking, in its essence, is not the mere result of an individual subject’s mental activity; nor is Naess’s conception of self-realization a realization of a particular subj ect brought about by the sheer force of that individual’s will power. “The step b ack from one thinking to the other is no mere shift of attitude…for this reason alone: th at all attitudes…remain committed to the precincts of repres entational thinking.”216 Rather, the kind of “t hinking” that Heidegger and Naess have in mind is, as Heidegger puts it in the Discourse on Thinking, a “patient 215 Heidegger, “The Thing,” Poetry, 181 216 Ibid.


83 noble-mindedness” that is “a pure resting in itself of…willing which, renouncing willing, has released itself to what is not will.”217 Such a releasement to “what is not will,” amounts to the opening of Dasein that is necessary for the givenness of Ereignis the event of clearing in wh ich entities can be this or that. It is within this “region” that the poetic nature of beings becomes manifest: the realm where an appreciation of the intrinsic value of that which springs forth in and of itself becomes manifest, perhaps, for the very first time. Such is the region in which thinking becomes thanking “that thanking which does not have to thank for something, but only thanks for being allowed to thank.”218 217 Heidegger, Discourse, 85 218 Ibid.


84 References Michael Allaby, The Oxford Dictionary of Ecology (New York, Oxford University Press, 1998) Thomas Birch. “The Incar ceration of Wilderness: Wild erness Areas as Prisons.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995) Stephen Bodian. “Simple In Means, Rich In Ends,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995) Thomas Berry. “The Viable Human.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995). Fritjof Capra, “Deep Ecology: A New Paradigm,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995) Hubert Dreyfus. Being in the World: A Commentary Heidegger’s Being and Time, Division I (Massachusetts, MIT Press, 1991) Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The Population Explosion. (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1990) Christopher Flavin, State of the World Report 2002 (New York, The Worldwatch Institute, 2002) Paul Friedlander, Plato, Vol. I, (New York, Pantheon Books, 1958). Martin Heidegger, “Building, Dwelling, Thinking,” Basic Writings (New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1993) Martin Heidegger. Discourse on Thinking: A Tran slation of Gelasenheit. (New York, Harper & Row, 1966) Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2000) Martin Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism,” Basic Writings, (New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1993)


85 Martin Heidegger, “Modern Scien ce, Metaphysics, and Mathematics,” Basic Writings (New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 1993) Martin Heidegger, “P oetically Man Dwells,” Poetry, Language, Thought, (New York, Harper Colophon Books, 1971) Martin Heidegger, The Principle of Reason (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1991) Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology (New York, Harper and Row, 1997) Martin Heidegger, “The Thing,” Poetry, Language, Thought. (New York, Harper Colophon Books, 1971) Andrew McGlauglin. “The Heart of Deep Ecology,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995) Arne Naess & David Rothenberg, Ecology, Community and Lifestyle (New York, Cambridge University Press, 1989) Arne Naess. “Simple In Means, Rich in Ends” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995) Arne Naess. “The Deep Ecological Movement: Some Philosophical Aspects.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995) Arne Naess. “The Deep Ecol ogy ‘Eight Points’ Revisited,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995) Arne Naess. “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements,” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century (Boston, Shambhala, 1995) Louis P. Pojman, Global Environmental Ethics (California, Ma yfield Publishing Company, 2000) John Rodman. “Four Forms of Ecological Consciousness Reconsidered.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. (Boston, Shanbhala Press, 1995) George Sessions. “Deep Ecology and the New Age Movement.” Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. (Boston, Shambhala Press, 1995) Thomas Sheehan. “Kehre and Eriegnis: A Prolegomenon to Introduction to Metaphysics ,” A Companion to Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphsyics (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2001)


86 Lynn White. “The Historical Root s of Our Ecological Crisis.” Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application, 2nd Edition (New York, Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998 Julian Young, Heidegger’s Later Philosophy (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2002)


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