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The exploration, exploitation, and colonization of space engages in a process of Enframing that reduces the world to standing reserve and destroys humanity’s connection with Being
Jerkins, 09 (Jae from Florida State University, Professor of religion, writes for Florida Philosophical review. Heidegger’s Bridge: The Social and Phenomenological Construction of Mars. Technology as Revealer—the problem of enframing http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.philosophy.ucf.edu/fpr/files/9_2/jerkins.pdf&safe=active)
Martin Heidegger also claims that people in the 20th century falsely view technology as a Kantian “means to an end”—when in reality, Heidegger maintains, technology is not a means but rather “a mode,” or “a way of revealing.”42 This revealing that modern technology is responsible for is a challenge, a “demand” to nature “that it supplies energy that can be extracted and stored as such.”43Heidegger uses the river Rhine as an example of the demands of modern technology. The Rhine has been dammed up in order to provide hydraulic pressure for a hydroelectric power plant. This use oftechnology changes our phenomenological perception of the Rhine. A vast ecological system, the ancient source of legends and songs, the home of lush forests and breathtaking castles, has been relegated to a “water power supplier.”44This modern ability to take nature out of its original context of being and reassign it within ause-value technological context is known as enframing. In the modern age, we have begun to reorganize everything around us into technological frames of reference and usage; Heidegger warns that the river Rhine is now a power source, the once mystical German soil is now a mineral deposit,and the refreshing mountain air is simply a supply of nitrogen.45 The objects that make up our world have become resources—subjects for us to master, purchase, and own. We have alienated ourselves from all things and placed them into a standing reserve, a standbymode in which “whatever stands by…no longer stands over us as object.”46 Our general disregard for the meaningfulness of the world is precisely what causes objects to lose any coherent status for us. Heidegger finds that the consequence of enframing, whereby the entire natural world inevitably becomes “orderable as standing reserve,” is that “man in the midst of objectlessness is nothing but the orderer of the standing-reserve… [who inevitably] comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-reserve.”47 We may shape the world, but the world inevitably shapes us. This is a central point of concern I have over the issue of colonization. When Modernity’s gaze upon the world calls forth the project of colonization, this causes the process of enframing to begin, whereupon we mark the world for our own usage until the day comes when humanity itself may be commodified as a standing-reserve. Heidegger explains, “Man becomes that being upon which all that is, is grounded as regards the manner of its Being and its truth. Man becomes the relational center of that which is as such.”48 As objects in nature are relegated to standing-reserve, Heidegger explains, “everything man encounters exists only insofar as it has his construct.”49 Since nothing exists outside of humanity’s construction, we end up only ever encountering ourselves. Yet because we do not realize that the phenomena before us are of our own construction, a distortion caused by enframing, Heidegger contends that we fail to grasp an important existential truth—we can never truly encounter ourselves, our world, or Mars for that matter.50 When humanity gazes out at the world, “he fails to see himself as the one spoken to.”51The dizzying rise in modern technology has precipitated a fundamental change in our perception of objects and, inevitably, in ourselves. By turning the world into technology, human kind turns itself into the world’s technicians. We reassemble and reconfigure the natural world for ourown use, playing the part of the self-made, frontier-forging individual—the modern man. Technology unlocks the energy in nature, transforming the rushing water of the Rhine into energy, storing up that energy, distributing it to German power outlets, and thus revealing the concealed power in nature. This challenge to nature, to stop being and to become a resource/commodity for modern human beings, is how modern technology serves as revealer. For Mars, the prospect of enframing is extremely problematic, given its phenomenological nature. As interpretive discourse directs the narratives of Mars (scientific and otherwise), enframing comes rather easily and often appears as a benign force in the media and public discourse, asking, “What can Mars do for us?” Because the interpretation of Mars precedes any objective knowledge, as illustrated by Lowell’s once popular canal theories, we must proceed in the awareness that Mars is, in the public mind, what is said of it. Heidegger warns, “The rule of Enframing threatens man with the possibility that it could be denied to him to enter into a more original revealing,” adding his somewhat romantic call to modernity, “and hence to experience the call of a more primal truth.”52Heidegger’s point is well-taken—what is damaging to our participation in the world is the exclusivity technology brings to bear as a form of modern revelation. Heidegger explains that when technological enframing takes place, “it drives out every other possibility of revealing.”53 When technological ordering comes to be the only way we perceive the world, then the world becomes revealed to us only through the banal act of securing natural resources, no longer allowing what Heidegger calls the “fundamental characteristics” of our resources to appear to us.54 The Earth becomes minerals, the sky becomes gases, and the Martian surface becomes whatever those with means will it to be. When we gaze at Mars with an eye toward technologically enframing it, we deny ourselves the possibility of other forms of revelation which, given the great passage of time, may come to make our generation appear quite near-sided and audacious—or worse, cause permanent damage to a planet we are far from grasping in its sublime entirety. Heidegger describes the enframing of a tract of earth as “a coal–mining district”; can the enframing of Mars as a natural resource be far from Heideggerian thought?55 To appreciate fully the meaning in this world and of the “red planet,” we must come to terms with our modern predilection for technological enframing and be accepting of other, more long-term, open-minded and inclusive perspectives of place-making.