IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - Summer 2013 - 17

Being as actuality.
Actuality as subjecticity.
Subjecticity as will to power.
Will to power as being.
Being as power.
Power as machination.
Machination as letting beings
loose on themselves.
The letting loose of beings
and devastation. (GA69:72f)
This series of consequences makes
dire reading, but it remains a concatenation of terms each of which
has to be unfolded phenomenologically if the chain is to have a
validity beyond mere hints, murmurings, assertions, assurances,
and auto-suggestive conjurings.
The first link in the chain is crucial, for the consequences will flow
from it. This first link is Wirklichkeit, actuality. To those who regard
the starting point of the above
sequence with "being as actuality" as "arbitrary" (GA69:73), Heidegger replies, "that the history of
being can be represented in a history of the concept of "existence" "
(ibid.) and that, "actuality refers
back to e )ne /rgeia and thus into the
history of being in the first beginning" (ibid.) With this key concept,
e )ne /rgeia, from Aristotle's metaphysics we have a touchstone and
a foothold with which to assess
Heidegger's conception of the history of being and its culmination
in "being as power" and finally in
the "devastation" of the oblivion to
being. The concept of e )ne /rgeia,
together with its sister concept du /
namij, is also the linchpin for
understanding Heidegger's assertion that "the fundamental concepts of philosophy grew out of
and in this interpretation," namely,
the interpretation of the phenomenon of production by Plato and
Aristotle.
It is significant that this reference back to e )ne /rgeia as the starting point in a chain of historical
castings of being that culminates
in being as power, machination,
and devastation occurs in a section

headed "58. The determination
of the essence of power." Why
is this significant? Because Heidegger does not mention in this
section, nor in the pages preceding or following, the twin concept to e )ne /rgeia that directly
says power, namely, du /namij.
Du /namij is the Greek word for
power, and it is also the twin concept of e )ne /rgeia that lies at the
heart of metaphysics and which
Aristotle analyzes in detail in Book
Theta of his Metaphysics. Instead
of starting with Wirklichkeit,
e )ne /rgeia, Heidegger could have
started directly with du/namij and
pointed out that fu/sij was early
on experienced as the du/namij of
self-bringing-forth.
Heidegger apparently justifies
his dismissal of familiar phenomena of power such as political,
social, and economic power in the
"narrowness of an historical and
political way of seeing" (GA69:72),
by referring to the history of metaphysics which is a history of the
castings of being, even though he,
too, does not in the least refrain
from dealing with concrete historical manifestations of power such as
the Second World War, as he does
in To \ Koino /n Aus der Geschichte
des Seyns/From the History of
Beyng (1939/40), or even with
more specific manifestations of
political power such as "Power and
Violence" and "Power and Crime"
(ibid. 61.). So, on the one hand,
Heidegger insists on fixating the
gaze of thinking on fu /sij as the
purportedly originary experience
of Greek thinking (which soon
degenerated into "productionist
metaphysics"),4 to the exclusion of
the manifold of social and political
phenomena associated with power,
whilst, on the other hand, nevertheless retaining the right to comment enigmatically on phenomena
such as "violence" and "crime" and
"right/law" that hardly make sense
without a social, political context.
4

On productionist metaphysics, cf. [7].

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

|

SuMMEr 2013

It would seem that for Heidegger,
only in the move back to the pure
upsurgence of nature in its coming to presence of itself could the
perversions of power that are rife in
all kinds of social living in today's
world be overcome.5
The crux of Heidegger's questioning of Technik and his critique of machination and power as
rooted in the history of being as the
history of metaphysics thus comes
down to an assessment of the ontological concept of du /namij that
lies at the heart of Aristotle's, and
also of all later metaphysics. So
let us briefly review the concept of
du /namij.

The Merely Single
Source of Power in
Metaphysical dy┬┤ oankw

A du/namij as a power, force, potential, potency, or ability is a mode of
being which Aristotle characterizes
as a)rxh\ metabolh=j e )n a )l
/ l% h ) \
v (= a llo
)/
(Met. Theta 1, 1046a9f),
i.e., being "a source governing a
change in something else or in the
same being insofar as it is regarded
as something else." The standard
illustrative example of this definition provided by Aristotle is that
of the te /xnh or art of housebuilding. Given that technology
and the power of technology are
in question here, we must point out
that the metaphysical definition
of power is by no means beyond
question. How so? Because there
is an ambiguity that is lodged in
the very heart of Aristotle's definition of power, du /namij, one that
has far-reaching consequences for
the whole of metaphysics as we
know it from the tradition of philosophy. The ambiguity resides
in the pivotal term metabolh /
employed in the formulation of
5
Cf., however Heidegger's 1946 essay "Der
Spruch des Anaximander" [8] in which he argues that Anaximander is by no means one of the
fusiolo /goi, a natural philosopher, as Aristotle
and Theophrastos, and then the entire tradition
has characterized him (cf., my "The Principle of
reason and Justice"[9]).

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