Heidegger's movement out of the domain of the will, out of the sphere of metaphysics to the attunement of non-willing

Heidegger was slowly getting rid of the idea that the finite determined being-there chooses its possibilities of being, and he was also abandoning the claim that the human will to know can violently and voluntarily overcome the overwhelming onslaught of being. I will show here how the problem of the will became problematic in the mature being-historical thought of Heidegger, when being no longer appears as will. The problem of the will itself was not sufficiently thought in Being and Time, but later (from the mid-1930s onwards) Heidegger gradually releases a certain voluntaristic approach to being. Heidegger thus gains a significant distance from his early decisionism, and it is in his later thought (beginning in 1936) that he begins to write (among other things) his Contributions to Philosophy.

Will and care

The problem of the will opens up in Being and Time (1927), against the background of the concept of worry; however, there is no substantial critique of the will. "The impulse and the will are always modifications of care," Heidegger writes for the time being.[1] In his free endeavour, the being-there (Dasein) encounters resistance in the world and so becomes aware of reality. Scheler is here said by Heidegger to be a proponent of a "voluntarist theory of being", whereby the being of being is revealed "only in relation to instinct and will"[2]. This seems to be true of Heidegger as well, for whom care is the fundamental existential phenomenon here; will is grounded in it. Care here stands out as the basic existential of man, who is concerned with the concernful achievement of himself, his own being – and being as such. Only in this way can one be fundamentally-ontologically free to realise one's most intrinsic possibilities, even the philosophical projection of the world. The will here, then, falls within the whole of the care, and within it wants to be free and decisive.

Heidegger, however, in the end abandons the freedom of the metaphysics of subjectivity, in which the transcendentalism of Being and Time is still largely played out, and begins to think (from about the mid-1930s onwards) of human freedom as existing in the light of being, so that the truth of being can be revealed (letting being be). However, already in his treatise On the Being of Truth (1930), Heidegger writes that man does not possess freedom as a property; rather, the opposite is true: "man ek-exist only as the possession of this freedom."[3] It is the freedom of being itself that "possesses" man with his will and truth. This conception allows Heidegger to slowly overcome the metaphysics of global technological will to will, which pulls man into the gears of machination and anthropocentric calculation that ultimately destroys nature and the world as a whole. A distance is gained from the ontotheoegological approach to being, gripped by the masterly (Nietzschean) will to power. Next, then, let us examine the problem of the will in Heidegger, now from Heidegger's lectures on Nietzsche, where there is a gradual problematization of the notion of the will.[4]

Will as command

Heidegger points out that it is necessary to think will and power together in terms of Nietzsche's central idea of "will to power". From there, one must also understand the specifically Nietzschean living "justice" that "operates" only from a properly understood will to power. If for Nietzsche power is the amplification of power to "more" power, then will, in order not to remain an empty concept, is a "command": "Will is a command... In commanding, 'the innermost conviction of superiority' decides. This is why Nietzsche understands commanding as a fundamental attunement of superiority, namely, to be superior not only to the other, the obeyer, but also – and always in a priori way – towards oneself. That is: an exalted height, an intensification of one's own being, namely, so that one's own nature stands in such height."[5]

Will is here meant by will to power (as well as power). The totality of being, meant as chaos, is understood by Nietzsche to be fundamentally the will to power. Heidegger says on this occasion that it is metaphysics that thinks of beings as a whole – in what is and how it is. So too is Nietzsche's thought the culmination of Western metaphysics; Heidegger here prepares his distance from Nietzsche, and thus from his conception of the will, though in his lectures on Nietzsche he is indeed sympathetic to his metaphysics, even protecting it from possible falsification[6] (especially by those who would exploit it politically).

In reflecting on Nietzsche's metaphysics, Heidegger further considers the metaphysics of subjectivity in the form of rampant anthropocentrism, whereby man continually enhances and transcends himself subjectively. Anthropocentrism, which Heidegger here calls "anthropomorphism," is one of the culminations of the history of modern metaphysics.[7] At the same time, the possibility of a reversal, the possibility of overcoming man as animal rationale with his rationalist unboundedness giving way to planetary devastation, is also revealed. This turning point is associated with a deeper understanding of the truth of being. But so far there is no proper uncovering of being; we live rather in the abandonment by being (Seinsverlassenheit). This corresponds to the absence of a deeper being-historical thinking, which Heidegger here calls "recollective thinking" (Andenken). Only when we arrive at such an "inceptual" and recollective thought can we achieve an adequate "humanization of being."[8]

But the metaphysically laid out truth is shaken in its problematic nature. In its Nietzschean completion, metaphysics comes to its end. And it is this end that for Heidegger is the "necessity of another beginning." It is this emergency (Not) and necessity that must be thought, and with it the very end of metaphysics, and thus Nietzsche's fundamental idea of the will to power, to find its "inner limit," and also how "being is eclipsed by beings," to think the very "domination of so-called reality." The most important thing to realize then – and here the whole of late Heidegger already speaks – is that "the eclipse of being by beings comes from being itself as the abandonment of beings by being in the sense of the withdrawal of the truth of being."[9]

The truth of being is still withdrawed to the point of abandonment even in Nietzsche. Heidegger, however, understandably interprets Nietzsche's conception of will and power. Let us say further here how Heidegger sympathetically approaches Nietzsche's understanding of the being of the will, for this will help us to understand Heidegger's efforts to overcome subjectivist metaphysics, where at the same time horizons are opened for a different type of non-willful thought.

The will as a will beyond and towards oneself

In order to overcome Nietzsche, one must enter into conversation with him and come to terms with him. To understand the essence of his doctrine is also Heidegger's goal; only in this way can Nietzsche be transcended in the following steps of thought. What, then, is above all the will and the willing of that will? Willing is, for Nietzsche, above all a self- decidedness, and this on the assumption that I know what I want. The will brings to its willing an absolute certainty as to self-presenting (within the framework of unconditional objectification). If we are able to present ourselves to ourselves in this way, we are able, as Heidegger interprets Nietzsche, to go out of our possibilities even "beyond ourselves." Self-decidedness is at the same time the ability to go beyond oneself, a willing beyond oneself that in Nietzsche even has the character of a command. From this we get Nietzsche's basic definition of will – and Heidegger quotes this sentence: "... will as the affect of command is the decisive sign of self-certainty and strength."[10]

Heidegger thus sees in Nietzsche the rightly commanding character of the will. This is not, however, a mere command or intention, but a persistent decidedness. "Only he can truly command ... who is not only able but always ready to place himself under command."[11] We thus have ourselves in the zone of command, of order – this must be understood and listened to. In the decisiveness of the will reaching beyond itself then lies the mastery and power over what is revealed in this willing of the will. The most important thing, then, is to understand the essential determination of the Nietzschean will, to see the double moment of Nietzsche's conception of the will: the decidedness to itself and the movement beyond itself. As Heidegger precisely puts it, "Since the will is a decidedness to oneself as a swaying transcendence of oneself – for the will is a self-transcending willing – the will is a potency that intensifies to power."[12] Thus the will is in itself also a power, the will is a will to power, a power-enhancement, and therefore a constant movement beyond oneself. The explicitation of the will, therefore, is that it is a will to power. The will to power as a "form of affect" is then for Nietzsche, as Heidegger implies, the essential determination (beingness) of all being, the very being by beings in the whole.[13] Thus is expressed the truth of being: the world is a single will to power, and the particular will to power organizes chaos, and so establishes the world. In Nietzsche's conception of the will to power, the core of Western metaphysics is fulfilled, according to Heidegger, which in its technical manifestation (challenging enframing – Gestell) leads to a desolating exploitation of nature and the world in general. The earth becomes an object for man's objectifying willing; in the struggle for dominion over the earth, nature becomes an object of (often despoiling) technology in a "representational positing".[14]

In a constant stream of wanting, we surpass ourselves in our modern subjectivity, rise and bring every superfluity and gain back on ourselves. Will is creative and destructive at the same time, and in this ever-expanding movement we become masters over something. In the encompassing movement of self-enhancement, commanding, shaping and tearing down, the reality of will, the modern will to power, is manifested. Here the "concept of being as will" is described with crystalline clarity.[15] The free movement of self-transcendence is always the expansion of the subject, the growth of its strength and power. Bret W. Davis speaks (with the help of Levinas) of ecstatic appropriation, conquest, and egoistic absorption of others and otherness in general. The will is in perpetual self-expansion (while going back to itself constantly in self-enhancement and self-satisfaction), and so must go on indefinitely.[16] There is only the constant, insatiable movement of free will towards more power, the will to "be more powerful".[17] The metaphysical will here is insatiable, always expanding, being more and more of the same: the will to will and to more power.

Later, Heidegger takes these ideas more critically, yet a certain will to unity remains in his later thought; one cannot be completely without will. It can be said, however, that it will be difficult to break out of the dominance of the modern will as a humankind; some will and activity will have to be shown in order to bring about a more appropriate behaviour towards the earth and nature.

The claim of sovereign will and the nihilism of planetary thrusts

Man's being-as-self (self-existence) necessarily involves will, but it is often disfigured into the selfishness of egoism and flat individualism. Furthermore, there is a modern sovereign subjectivity that puts everything that exists before itself and makes it an object for its self-representation – says Heidegger in the early 1940s (1942).[18] "Only in the existential zone of subjectivity is the age of cosmic discoveries and planetary thrusts possible, for only in the new-age subjectivity does it set the existential limits of actual and then, in the claim of its will, unconditional objectivity."[19] The selfhood and unshakability of subjectivity is a new-age formation of human being-as-self. In Kant, the beingness of the egoity subsequently manifested itself as the government of consciousness; man's self-being fully emerges here as subjectivity (egoity). In Nietzsche, then, according to Heidegger, there is a culmination of this movement, where subjectivity is conceived in terms of will, the unconditional will to power. A symptom of this sense of the power of subjectivity is the type (typus) of the thinker (and tragic artist) with his "predilection for problematic and frightening things...".[20] So Nietzsche, too, is trying in his own way to think the problematic of being by beings, of what actually happens in history. Thus Heidegger also thinks Nietzsche's metaphysics in relation to the whole of Western metaphysics and to German objective idealism in particular. For him, Nietzsche's "superman" is the counterpart of Hegel's "absolute consciousness."[21]

The transformation in the understanding of being is reflected in the transformation of the beingness of truth from the first beginning in Greek thought to Nietzsche. Heidegger expresses this transformation of the beingness of truth from the Greek aletheia through the Roman veritas and the medieval adaequatio, rectitudo, iustitia to Hegel's notion of absolute certainty and Nietzsche's notion of justice as a self-securing power that seeks to continually increase and enhance itself. All this is the transformation of veritas into certitudo. The being of the aletheia has remained unthought and unfulfilled in the course of Western metaphysical thought.[22] 

From here it is obvious that truth is historical in its being, it changes according to the destiny of being.[23] To express itself, this truth "always needs a humanity through which it is made, founded, shared, and so preserved." In this way, truth and its preservation belong together; man always decides in what is assigned to him, decides on the truth of beings. In this way a particular epoch in the history of metaphysics always arises, and man is, one might say, embedded in it – in the manner of its preservation and conservation.[24] 

From here, then, one can see Nietzsche's thinking performance: he too expresses the truth of beings in the whole, constructing his basic metaphysical position. This is, as we know, the harmony of the ideas of the will to power, the eternal return of the same, nihilism, the revaluation of all values and the associated justice of the superman. It belongs to the excellence of the thinker that he has given himself to truth, the thinker Nietzsche has expressed in his metaphysics the being of beings, its happening truth. Nietzsche's fundamental idea, we can emphasize with Heidegger, is precisely the idea of the will to power and the associated value-placing and justice resounding in the notion of the truth of being as will to power.[25] For Nietzsche, the will to power is thus the beingness of beings, and in this idea the modernity and beingness of Western metaphysics is fulfilled.

It appears that Heidegger is coming to terms with Nietzsche's thought in a significant way, and that he is beginning to show signs of transcending traditional metaphysics as he begins to come to terms with the historical understanding of the truth of being. From his reflection on the inner unity of Nietzsche's metaphysics, the idea of the culmination of the whole of Western metaphysics in Nietzsche emerges, and a view of the overcoming of the concept of being as will opens up to him.

According to Heidegger, Nietzsche does not mean being itself, how being prevails essentially; Nietzsche does not ask the question of being. Nietzsche understands being as a value, as the will to power; the question of being has not become something essential to him; being as being is not experienced. And this, for Heidegger, is the inherent nihilism of Western history: "The being of nihilism is a history in which being itself is not reckoned with."[26] The problematic of being itself is not seen, that only being is worthy of thought, and this is true of Nietzsche too, that he does not see this question, although for him there was a "consummation of nihilism". Thus, within Western metaphysics, being itself is not thought in Heidegger's view, being is understood from Descartes through Leibniz and Kant to Hegel and Schelling as will, culminating in Nietzsche, and so his metaphysics of the will to power and the "discarding of existing values" is its own nihilism. Although Nietzsche tries to transcend nihilism, according to Heidegger, Nietzsche's thought is still nihilistic, the very culmination of Western metaphysics since Plato, the culmination of nihilism (Nietzsche seems to have taken metaphysics to an extreme and thus to its culmination, as we might say).

Indeed, Heidegger's thinking about Nietzsche (and the whole post-descartesian metaphysics) sets the stage for understanding the beingness of the will. He says that Nietzsche's metaphysics is nihilistic insofar as it is carried by the principle of the will to power, which is thus projected in every evaluation. The metaphysics of the will to power is the culmination of nihilism. But Nietzsche does not get to the basis of his own nihilism; he is unable to think the very beingness of nihilism. On the contrary, Heidegger does indeed succeed in gradually illuminating the hitherto obscure question of will, value, and being; he gains distance from Nietzsche's metaphysics of the will to power, and the very beingness of European nihilism opens up to him. Western metaphysics since Plato is for him "as metaphysics its own nihilism".[27]

The Will to Will and the Dawn of Thought

So Heidegger asks the question what is will, what is the will to power. He finds that for Nietzsche the will is the will to power, and power is nothing more than the beingness of the will. He also begins to use the expression "will to will". He writes: "The will to power is then the will to will, i.e., willing is: to will oneself."[28] Here we see a modern-age determination, where the beingness of the individual is rooted in the free act of the subjectivistically to oneself oriented person. "The resolute openness of the modern Renaissance man comes from the will to will."[29] It is a hardened subjectivistic orientation towards the self, where the original Greek areta and arete, i.e. man's essential (carried by real virtue) self-opening to being and its truth (aletheia), disappears. Man secures himself in the modern period from Descartes onwards as the absolute subjectivity of the subject. Subsequently, the technical will to will comes in as a fundamental feature of technological civilization. The original Greek decisive openness, according to Heidegger, was still marked by a deep awe of the very shame (Scheu) of being, which is "with shame, shyly" thrown/given to man in the form of the unconcealedness on which the being-there tunes.[30]

The nihilistic will must be overcome, and Heidegger is increasingly aware of this. The technological will to will only leads to a further boundless objectification of reality, a departure from life and nature, resulting in human unprotectiveness and homelessness. Salvation can only come from a fundamental transformation of human mortals who will be more courageous by being more "assiduous" in their surrendered will to the truth of being. Then salvation can also come.[31] It doesn't have to be just the continued "thwarting of the future" and destruction of the truth as the black "night of the world" rises without a trace of "some other dawn".[32] The scientific-positivist truth remains the only metaphysical truth of today, the forgetting of being goes hand in hand with the assertion of nihilistic (only techno-scientific-logical calculating) subjectivity (which can often oppose the truly awakened subjectivity of excellent thinking individuals – as can be seen in the life story of such philosophers as S. Kierkegaard, J. Patočka, whose "prefigurement" is the story of Socrates). The only (supreme) value here is the techno-nonaletheiological will to will and to power.

It would seem, then, that a possible salvation from technoscientific calculation and calculativeness would be a deeper reflection, which, as true thinking, has in Heidegger the nature of "poeticizing". It means a deep immersion in speech, in its beingness. For Heidegger, the truth is increasingly revealed as a daybreak: "The original mode of poeticizing is the thinking of being. Only in it, before everything else, does speech come to speech, that is, to its coming-into-presence. Thinking utters what the truth of being announces to it."[33]

Transition to non-willing as a basic attunement

For Heidegger, the path to poeticizing as a thought of being leads through a deeper reflection on willing and will. Thinking has traditionally been defined (at least since Leibniz and Kant) as willing. Even in Kant's conception of thinking as spontaneity, thinking is willing.[34] In the conversation on the country path, the idea of non-willing opens up; reaching the attitude of genuine reflection (Besinnung) will then mean "wanting non-willing," as the wise philosopher as one of the participants in the conversation suggests. Although this is an ambiguous statement in which the "not" reigns (and is thus still willing), it is even so necessary to open ourselves to the light emanating from non-willing, which will lead us to the original releasement toward being, and thus to transcend the technical metaphysics of today by more authentic reflection. Let us then approach the beingness of non-willing, and the beingness of thinking and poetizing will open up to us.

Obviously, a certain renunciation of willing is necessary, only in this way will we move away from the subjectivist metaphysics of modern times and arrive at real thinking. It is as if we should, above all, pull out ourselves from the will of new age and acquire an attitude of indwelling releasment (Gelassenheit). The conversation already speaks of an "awakening of releasment" or an awakening to a "persistent vigilance for releasment", which we as if to give entry into our thinking.[35] In this way, the zone of what is not will opens up to us; we need to prepare for this moment, to wait for it. The question is what is the nature of this releasment. And here we find the first distinctive characteristic of the beingness of releasment: it takes place outside of any passivity and activity, yet it is a "higher activity" outside the distinction between activity and passivity, where we get outside the zone of will, to non-willing.[36] Heidegger also shows here that his conception of releasment will be different from that of Eckhart (from whom the term Gelassenheit itself comes). If Eckhart's conception is still tied to the divine will, and is therefore still a will, this is not to be the case with Heidegger. Thinking is to be let into releasment, as if it were to take root in it and "feed on it."[37] It will surely mean to rise above transcendental-horizonal thinking; then the very mystery of being will open up to us. We must wait for the moment in which we will be gifted with attentiveness, alertness to the gift of being in the form of our releasment to its truth. Thinking can attain non-willingness by transforming the attitude of will, by rethinking the beingness of non-willing; thinking need not be willing.

In the text Overcoming Metaphysics from the 1940s and early 1950s, Heidegger develops his notion of the will to will in the age of fulfilled metaphysics. Being is understood at this time precisely as the will to will; it is according to this will that beings is governed. Technique reigns as the securing of stocks and states of affairs, as the reign of comfortable non-thinking, of mere calculating imagining arising from the modern Descartesian making secure of the self; the will to will grows out of this unconditionally understood self.[38] The will is the exercise of striving to achieve what is desired, what is therefore unconditionally grasped and controlled. The will to power seeks the unconditional securing of what is achieved ­– this alone is considered right and true. Heidegger can state: "The rightness of the will to will is the unconditional and complete securing of itself. What it wills is right and in order, since the will to will itself is the only order. In this self-security of the will to will, the initial being of truth is forgotten."[39] Nothing can contradict this will to will. Such a "rightness" of the will is, of course, something false and untrue (Un-Wahre) according to Heidegger, for Heidegger is on the way to overcoming this metaphysics of will to power and will to will. In the falsehood of the will to will, the beingness of truth is completely perverted; we get into a very oppressive plight. The "rightness" of the will to will removes the purity of truth. Mere calculation and voluntaristic self-assertion come into the picture in this calculative act of will to will. Truth is exposed to the danger of a complete reckoning, a machinating handling, an inquisitorial destruction that does not shy away from any deception in order to assert its "rightness," its self-satisfying power. This is how being as will, the pure will to power and will (which, according to Heidegger, is also embodied in Kant's notion of practical reason), emerges.[40] 

What is being suggested here? It turns out that what matters above all is what will we give ourselves over to – both as individuals and as groups in society, whether we cooperate with it or rather go against it. It is difficult to escape from the fate of being, for "the uniqueness of being is also shown in the will to will"; it seems to allow only one direction now, and hence the falsity and one-dimensionality that comes from will to will and to power. Against this, Heidegger suggests that one must begin to think "initially," from the "simpleness of the initial,"[41] from the initially original and pure truth of being; only in this way can one get out of the "monstrosity" of inessential happening. Even Heidegger admits that it is possible to get rid of the "occupying and untrue" will, to emerge with new vigor from the oblivion of being (Vergessenheit des Seins), when the understanding of being in general disappears. It will be necessary to reawaken to an understanding relationship to being (and primarily from a deeper understanding of the distinction between beings and being). Otherwise we will always be stuck in the abandonment by being (Seinsverlassenheit)[42], when we turn unreservedly to beings and forget the mystery of being, the meaning of existence.[43] 

What, then, might be the last signs of abandonment by being and, on our part, of its forgetting? It can come to the complete emptiness of the self-propelled movement of the securing of the given order and the metaphysically understood weaponization (Rüstung), when the being is completely consumed and nihilistically exploited. Producing technology and culture serve to exploit the world and nature without limits, and thus the "superhuman" subjectivity of will to power and will to will continues. Man becomes the master of the earth and of all indigenous forces, but he himself becomes a mere substance for the exercise of escalating (totalitarian[44]) power. Everything takes place in the machinery of exploitation and forgetfulness of the truth of pure being. His tarrying is further forgotten, man loses himself in an escalated objectifying fabricability.[45] What is this all-objectifying machination?

Omnipresent machination

Machination (Machenschaft), as a beingness of being, means for Heidegger "the producing and all-forming fabrication of being." The beingness of being is abandoned in this all-ruling fabricability by the truth of being. Further, machination is "the self-attunement of everything with fabricability, so that the irresistibility of the unconditional calculation of everything is established in advance."[46] The free playing field of history tends towards destruction, for the beingness of manipulative machination is violence in the constant self-satisfaction and escalation of power that subjugates everything. Real government does not dominate, it appears nowhere, everything is subjugated by an all-ruling machinating makesomeness. What will authentic government look like under these conditions (for even in the greatest danger something positive can arise that liberates the human being – as Heidegger reminds us from time to time)?

Such a government is the free capacity for "the original recognition not of beings but of pure being itself/beyng."[47] However, out of the self-establishment of an all-ruling calculability and machination (Descartes had already contributed to this with his understanding of truth as certainty), Heidegger's modern technique rises within the mass dwelling of man, understood as a subject, as a working animal who subsequently enjoys his enjoying experience (Erlebnis).[48] All this takes place within the framework of "civilization" and "culture" as titles that, together with the rationalism of technoscience, carry our age. This framing of the power-enhancement takes place within the circle of the "planetary" across the globe and beyond.[49] Under these conditions, Heidegger sketches a certain solution.

Heidegger finally speaks of the transition from the metaphysical history of the first beginning to another beginning (der andere Anfang), when metaphysics ends. This transition is associated with an unmediated leap (Sprung) in thinking and the attitude of thought, when one reaches true reflection (Besinnung). The interpretation of the truth of being as value ends and the "out-thinking of the truth of being as appropriation" begins.[50] The whole issue is to be thought of in Heidegger's eyes not as some historical episode, but "out of the presencing of the truth of pure being," out of "the unity of the discontinuity between fulfillment and beginning." What is meant here is precisely another beginning, when something new events (being is always given over in a new historical form). The metaphysical understanding of being as beingness of beings is overcome, being begins to be understood in its concealment and self-refusal, being is understood as enowning/appropriating eventuation (Ereignis). Thus also the "domination of machination" (Vormacht der Machenschaft) in its unconditional voluntaristic amplification ends; a new will is achieved by new intellectual leaps (on the basis of non-willingness and the basic attunement of releasment, i.e., beyond the attunement of willfulness of will to power and will to will) and the knowledge of another beginning from the adherence to beyng.[51] Heidegger introduces his work Mindfulness with several philosophical poems. One of them is entitled Other Thinking. Let us quote from it: "Hide in words the silent saying / of the leap above the great and the small,/ (...) in the walk to the beyng."[52]   

Heidegger thus suggests a different way of being than the way of willing and will, than the extreme unleashing of technical will to will under the rule of enframing (Gestell), in which manipulative arbitrary subjectivity thrives, where even man is made a mere cog in the machinery of machination. Today's globalized Euro-American system of economic and technological manipulation has so far only led to a nihilistic discharge of the technological will to will and to power. However, one can simultaneously speak with Heidegger[53] of a being-historical turn from the abandonment by being to pure non-willingness. There is a retreat from the mere world of willful scientific-technical towards a greater openness to being. To do this, it is necessary to unlock oneself, to find the pure "post-turning"[54] there-being (Da-sein, Da-seyn) in approaching the original being (Seyn), to overcome the consequently empty ecstasies of will to will and to power, and to return to non-willing. It is then that the non-volitional sense of the appropriation of being can dawn, whereby a moderm subjectivity transcends the beingness of technological nihilism and achieves for man a true beingness of freedom. Heidegger's problematization of the will contributed significantly to this, opening the way to an understanding of the "overcoming of the beingness of technology." The task of thought is now precisely to grasp the beingness of technology, to break out of "pragmatic-positivist thinking", to embark rather on the path of "thinking and poeticizing".[55]

In the extreme distress of our dependence on arbitrary machinating manipulation and production, when man is reduced to mere material that can be exchanged at any time (for younger ones), we can therefore see the possibility of a change (turn) that would correspond to a different beginning and original fourfold (Geviert). In a situation where even man himself is threatened, one can go beyond the mechanical movement of the will to the will (where the will wants only itself in a constant escalation and self-satisfaction in a rampant self-expansion). There is a danger that the whole world, and with it the human being, will be reduced to such a movement – in the throes of an ever-repeating will to will. Technological progress may turn not only against man, but also against the whole of nature which bears man. It is necessary, therefore, that man should be able to extricate himself from the excess of egoistic will, that he should be able eventually to arrive at non-willingness and to restrained thinking – as Heidegger has just pointed out. It will depend on our response to the "call" of being, when human freedom lets go of being – and the truth of being itself is revealed. In the right attunement of indwelling releasment, the kind of thoughtfulness can be achieved that will reverse the movement of the modern subjectivist will to power and the technological will to will (which so far drives today's globalized Euro-American system of economic and technological fabrication and production) toward a shame of being, a reverence for life. It is in an attitude of releasment and non-willingness that the true freedom of man can be found. Our being-there has the hope of returning to the zone of illuminating truth, to the realm of true life.

Translation of the article: Heideggerův pohyb mimo doménu vůle, mimo sféru metafyziky k naladění ne-chtění, in e-Logos 2014, 21(1):1-17)

© Jiří Olšovský 


[1]  Heidegger, M., Being and Time/ Bytí a čas, trans. I. Chvatík, P. Kouba, M. Petříček, J. Němec, Oikúmené, Prague 2002, p. 193.

[2] Ibid, p. 245.

[3] Cf. Heidegger, M., On Truth and Being/ O pravdě a bytí, trans. J. Němec, Mladá fronta, Prague 1993, p.43. (Now there is a treatise On the Being of Truth in: the same, Wegmarken, in: the same, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 9, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1976.) 

[4] Heidegger, of course, does not clarify his conception of the will only on Nietzsche, but forms his insights and his approach to the will mainly on how he comes to terms with the thought of Schelling and Hegel. Being as will is nicely shown by Heidegger when Hegel's conception of experience is interpreted. Here it is shown that the beingness of our modern will, which carries the beingness of our experience, is in the beingness of being: "As experience, the will of the absolute prevails for us, i.e., for us as an appearing phenomenon. For us, that which appears in its appearance presents itself insofar as we make the contribution of our turn. This contribution therefore wants the will of the absolute. The contribution itself is that willed absolute of the absolute. The turn of consciousness adds nothing egoistic on our part to the absolute. It brings us back to our beingness, which consists in being in the parousia of the absolute." In our experiential view we are related to the absolute. Cf. Heidegger, M., "Hegels Begriff der Erfahrung", in: idem, Holzwege, in: idem, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 5, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1977, p. 190 f.

[5] Heidegger, M., Nietzsche, I, Verlag G. Neske, Pfullingen 1989 [5th ed.], p. 651.

[6] Cf. ibid., p. 652 ff.

[7] In relation to the notion of being as will in the history of metaphysics, Heidegger treats the intrinsic relation of reason to the system, how the system relates to the notion of mathesis universalis, and how this relates to the Descartesian certainty of the ego cogito. As the subjectivity of the subject changes, so does the beingness of reason, and for Schelling, reason becomes the "universal will." And so we can say with Heidegger: "... reason as knowledge ... is will" (See Heidegger, M., "The Being-Historical Origin of Metaphysics", in: idem, Metaphysik und Nihilismus, in: idem, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 67, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1999, p. 160). Thus, in the metaphysics of subjectivity, being as will stands out.

[8] N, I, p. 654.

[9] Ibid, p. 657.

[10] Nietzsche, F., Joyful Science/ Radostná věda, trans. V. Koubová, Aurora, Prague 2001, p. 192.

[11] N, I, p. 51.

[12] Ibid, p. 52.

[13] Cf. ibid., p. 54.

[14] Cf. Heidegger, M., "Nietzsches Wort 'Gott ist tot'", in: idem, Holzwege, in: idem, Gesamtausgabe, vol. 5, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main, p. 255 f.

[15] N, I, p. 76.

[16] Davis, B. W., Heidegger and the Will. On the Way to Gelassenheit, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, Illinois 2007, p. 10.

17 Nietzsche, F., The Will to Power, trans. W. Kaufmann, R. J. Hollingdale, Random House, New York 1968, p. 356.

[18] Cf. Heidegger, M., Parmenides, in: idem, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 54, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1982, p. 203. (Hereinafter referred to as GA 54 and page number.)

19 Ibid, p. 204.

[20] Cf. Nietzsche, F., The Will to Power, c. d., p. 450.

[21] GA 54, p. 205.

[22] Ibid, pp. 84-86.

[23] In Heidegger, in the individual configurations of metaphysics, being itself is presented as the "destiny of being" (Geschick des Seins – see e.g. Heidegger, M., Der Satz vom Grund, in: the same, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 10, V. In history, this being has been thought of epochally (in individual self-containing of meaning; hence story/history/destiny of being). From the destiny of being, Heidegger thinks of concrete history.

[24] Heidegger, M., Nietzsche, II, Verlag G. Neske, Pfullingen 1989 (5th ed.), p. 257 f.

[25] Ibid, p. 258 f.

[26] Ibid, p. 338.

[27] Ibid, p. 343.

[28] N, I, p. 46.

[29] GA 54, p. 111.

[30] Cf. ibid., p. 112.

[31] Srv. Heidegger, M., „Wozu Dichter?“, in: the same, Holzwege, in: the same, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 5, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1997, pp. 296-297.

[32] See Heidegger, M., Anaximander's statement. The original is in Heidegger, M., Holzwege, in: Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1997, p. 326.

[33] Ibid, p. 16.

[34] Cf. Heidegger, M., „Ein Gespräch selbstdritt auf einem Feldweg“, in: the same, Feldweg-Gespräche (1944/45), in: the same, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 77, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1995, p. 106.

[35] Ibid, p. 108.

[36] Cf. ibid., p. 109.

[37] Cf. ibid.

[38] Cf. Heidegger, M., „Überwindung der Metaphysik“, in: the same, Vorträge und Aufsätze, in: the same, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 7, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 84 f. (Hereafter referred to as GA 7 and page number.)

[39] Ibid, p. 86.

[40] See ibid., p. 87.

[41]  Cf. more on this: Pětová, M., Thinking the Beginning and the End of Metaphysics. On Heidegger's title "the beginning" (der Anfang), [Myšlení počátku a konce metafyziky. K Heideggerovu titulu „počátek“ - der Anfang], Togga, Prague 2012, p. 17 f.

[42] GA 7, p. 89.

[43] Karel Kosík, who, as is well known, was inspired by Heidegger in many ways, spoke specifically about the loss of the meaning of existence in the raging, callous political game. He links the overcoming of any crisis with the overcoming of greedy political manipulation, with the "removal of mystification." People must see through the "mystification of the ruling groups" and turn to real democracy. Cf. Kosík, K., "Our present crisis", in: the same, Century of Markéta Samsová, ("Naše nynější krize", in: týž, Století Markéty Samsové, Český spisovatel, Praha 1993, s. 25 n.) Český spisovatel, Prague 1993, p. 25 n.

[44] The totalitarian "space of work", the "total mobilization" was significantly pointed out by Ernst Jünger, from whom Heidegger was inspired in many ways, as Aleš Novák has shown. It is in the total space of labour that the appeal of the will to power, the movement towards that "wanting to be more than before" operates. Cf. Novák, A., Power, Technology and Science: Martin Heidegger and Ernst Jünger/ Moc, technika a věda: Martin Heidegger a Ernst Jünger, Togga, Prague 2008, p. 33.

[45] Cf. GA 7, 90 f.

[46] Heidegger, M., Besinnung, in: the same, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 66, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main, 1997, p. 16. (Hereinafter referred to as GA 66 and page number.) Mindfulness/ Besinnung follows in time immediately after the Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event), written in 1936-38.

[47] Ibid, p. 16 f.

[48] To machination belongs, within the abandonment by being, this all-enjoying experience, which ensures the mastery of machination and technology, which is intrinsically related to them. See Heidegger, M. Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), in: the same, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 65, V. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1989, p. 131 ff.

[49] Cf. GA 66, p. 17 f. The crisis of modern civilization was pointed out significantly by Jan Patočka, as shown by Ilja Šrubař. The whole civilization/supercivilization is subject to mechanization and radical rationalism and is consequently tending towards decline. The way out of this is only possible in a certain mode of "self-confinement and renunciation of power and privilege". Cf. Šrubař, I., "Is History Moral? On Patočka's Dialectic of Decline", in: Studies on Patočka's Concept of Supercivilization/ „Jsou dějiny morální? K Patočkově dialektice úpadku“, in: Dějinnost, nadcivilizace a modernita. Studie k Patočkově konceptu nadcivilizace, eds. J. Arnanson, L. Benyovszky, M. Skovajsa, Togga, Prague 2010, pp. 68-70.

[50] GA 66, p. 404.

[51] See ibid., p. 405.

[52] Ibid, p. 4.

[53] Also K. Kosík and J. Patočka think analogically. Kosík speaks of "dark forces" that control reality and drive the system of production and comfort into a consequent "frenzy of annihilation". The sacred and the essential disappear, the mechanical operation of production and consumption takes over, where everything is subject to an ordering operation, man is shamelessly monitored and controlled in a situation of "boundless perfectibility and immensity and boundless growth". Cf. Kosik. K., The Century of Markéta Samsová, op. cit., pp. 50-52.

[54] See Olšovský, J., Heidegger and Kierkegaard. On the Way to Thought/ Heidegger a Kierkegaard. Na cestě k myšlení, Akropolis, Prague 2013, p. 164, note 14. In overcoming metaphysics through being itself, we are, in our steadiness (after the turn), as if embedded in the truth of this being. Cf. e.g. Nihilismus und Metaphysik, op. cit. p. 9.

[55] Cf. Heidegger, M., "Only a god can save us"/ „Už jenom nějaký bůh nás může zachránit“, trans. I. Chvatík, Oikúmené, Prague 2012, pp. 30-42. (Original source: „Nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten,“ Der Spiegel, 31 May, pp. 193-219.)


Jiří Olšovský

Existenciální filosof a básník. Působil v Masarykově a ve Filosofickém ústavu AV ČR jako badatel (PhDr., Ing., Ph.D.). Zabývá se převážně existenciální a fenomenologickou filosofií (M. Heidegger, J. Patočka, T. G. Masaryk, S. Kierkegaard).