Mark the Music: Heidegger on Technology, Art, and the Meaning of Materiality



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This thesis attempts to follow one of the central paths through the thought of Martin Heidegger. This path sets out from the chief danger that Heidegger believes to be facing the contemporary world and then proceeds onward through one of the ways we are able to affect a shift capable of setting the world aright. We conclude by taking a step of our own by proposing a counterpart, in music, to Heidegger's unpacking of the poetic dimension of art. Out notion of musical listening is meant to both clarify and extend the possibilities latent in Heidegger's theory.

Through a reading of his important essay "The Question Concerning Technology" we begin by explicating Heidegger's diagnosis of modernity as unknowingly under the influence of the interpretation of being that he names "modern technology." Having secured an understanding of the problem we turn to several of Heidegger's essays on art wherein we undertake to extract the meaning of Heidegger's conviction that it is through art that we are able to overcome modern technology. We interpret several claims which, taken together, get to the heart of Heidegger's phenomenological take on the ontology of art. We then explicate Heidegger's appropriation of H?lderlin?s notion of poetic dwelling that names the authentic utilization of art for existence, and ultimately in the overcoming of modern technology.

Finally, we depart from exegesis with our commentary on the role of materiality in the achievement of meaning. After dismissing some misconceptions which Heidegger's theory of poetry gives itself over to, we seek to develop his latent account of the role of materiality in the meaningfulness of art. Through a consideration of music, wherein sheer sensuousness prevails, the constitutive function of non-signifying materiality in meaning is presented and inscribed back into Heidegger's account of art as well as his later views on ethics. Just as poetry has an ontic and ontological sense in Heidegger's thought, so does our account of music serve a dual function. In addition to the familiar ontic phenomenon, music comes to name all art's transfiguration of materiality into manifestness.