Nature Enframed: Technology and Heidegger's Environmental Thinking
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This thesis concerns itself with a potential relationship between environmental philosophy and the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Taking up the question of modern technology as a prima facie cause of environmental damage, I delve into Heidegger’s deeper analysis of this phenomenon and its meaning for human life and the world. I focus on the boundless aspiration of technology, seeking to reveal the world in its entirety as standing reserve. What Heidegger calls Gestell or ‘enframing’ aims to create a system which values and finds meaning in mere utility alone. Such a world becomes unconcerned with the unique and individual expression and meaning of things, levelling these things into undifferentiated and anonymous resources. If place entails a sense of meaning and being with things, humanity loses their place becoming ‘homeless.’ I also demonstrate a second-order aspect of this boundlessness as being concerned with unlimited potential for the ‘human project.’ Both I take as indicating a cause for the environmental damage we now notice. The problem is to reacquaint ourselves with a proper sense of place, and to find meaning with things, treating them appropriately. Heidegger calls this dwelling. This is perhaps the true theme of this paper. I discuss further the concepts of poiesis and techne, as well as poetic thinking, as avenues that allow for dwelling to occur. This is the positive solution that I critically engage with as a potential basis for an environmental philosophy. In the final chapters, I examine the potential of dwelling with machines, and the re-orientation in thinking that could allow for this. While some reservations may be made for connecting Heidegger’s philosophy with environmental concerns, I conclude that Heidegger’s thought as a whole offers a way for us to begin thinking about finding meaning and value that is non-instrumental. It is this thinking that contributes most to a proper environmental philosophy and attitude.