Progress, Promise and Problems: Revisiting the Art of Techne
BITS Pilani K.K. Birla Goa Campus
Technology both during the Greeks and our times is an event of unconcealment which means it reveals. In the current times our perception towards the rivers, mountains, oceans, plants, animals, other humans etc., have undergone a radical change. Today we bring them all into the light of modern machination. What has gone wrong here is our perception towards revealing the truth. One major difference between the Greek and the modern technology is that, the Greek notion of techne does not fit with the modern machine-powered technology. And according to many philosophers of technology the modern machine technology is the most disturbing one and which indeed pushes us to make an enquiry into the question concerning technology as such. Modern technology, though it is a revealing, unlike the Greeks it does not unfold into a “bringing-forth”, rather it manifests as a “challenging-forth” which enables man to have an unduly control over the nature.
‘Technology’, for the later Heidegger, is the ontological name that stands for the tacit human understanding of Being in the late modern era, which lets humans to see all that is, all beings, including themselves, as resources for human manipulation. This Heideggerian name for the most extreme form of instrumental rationality holds within itself recollections of the Greek techne but it names according to him the era of ‘completed metaphysics’, wherein the name ‘metaphysics’ becomes dispensable in favour of science and technology and all beings appear in the framework of the necessity of the will to will and calculate. This name includes the specific regions of Being, like “objectified nature, the business of culture, manufactured politics, and the gloss of ideals overlying everything,” which become intelligible and lighted up in the clearing provided by the technological understanding of Being by the human being.
Technology, therefore, does not merely mean machinery and apparatuses. It is the most general ontological name that includes the machines as well but primarily allows us to speak about western metaphysics in its planetary avatar without referring specifically to what material and mechanical changes this metaphysics is bringing about in the different geographical regions of the world. That is why Heidegger repeats in the form of a refrain in the technology essay that the essence of technology is nothing technological. Technological modernity has obstructed the true revealing of Being and has interpretively appropriated the meaning of the Being of entities as resources, so that all of reality, including humans themselves, have become reducible to mere resources. They have all become profane ‘usables’ standing ready to be called upon by humans for their relentless satisfaction. It is clear that care-structured humans cannot be treated in this fashion because it denies them their very Being. This paper will essentially evaluate the true meaning of the Greek word techne while philosophically engaging with progress, promise and the problems of technological life-world.