Friday, November 14, 2014

Why the Scientist Has No Home Library: Heidegger Predicts the Structure of our Contemporary University

At the height of his apparent incredulity over the transformation of the traditional scholar into “the research man”, best exemplified by the modern scientist, Heidegger notes that this person “no longer needs a library at home.”

This is not merely because the frenetic life of the research man who is “constantly on the move”, attending conferences, negotiating book deals in collaboration with publishing houses and so forth.  It is also because of the very nature of the modern scientific enterprise whose essence is research, the essence of which in turn consist of a knowing that “establishes itself in as a procedure.” Science moves ahead in institutions singularly committed to the implementation of the procedural busyness of contemporary science.  Thus the home library is dispensed with because research can find no home in a private domicile.

The university, where the researcher can find a home increasingly, will become, Heidegger predicts in his  Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event) 1936-1938, “sheer business establishments” in which “the last vestiges of cultural decoration” (the humanities and arts, for example) are retained for “only as long as the must.”

[Martin Heidegger. The Age of the World Picture. [1938] William Lovitt (trans. & editor). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays]