Technology and Values on mustering up our tools
Tools qua tools have always involved referentiality. This is what Heidegger calls Bewandtnis and it is the subject of his memorable analysis of handiness — handhab-barkeit — in Heidegger’s discussion of Zuhandenheit (BT 98/69), namely readiness-to-hand and in turn and presuming such a readiness in its modality as “unreadiness-to-hand,” the revelation of “being-just-present-at hand-and-no-more” (BT 103/73) as these fit together precisely in such a work context.
Using a hammer for a given project, whether it involves the kind of complexity that would have engaged Heidegger’s own father as a cooper or joiner (these are related carpenterly professions, but the unions to this day keep them well distinct), or just hanging a picture on the wall, one is referred to a nail.
Reminds me Jerome K. Jerome's story
about when hanging a picture went present-at-handedly wrong for Uncle Podger.
The nail would be found at last, but by that time he would have lost the hammer.
“Where’s the hammer? What did I do with the hammer? Great heavens! Seven of you, gaping round there, and you don’t know what I did with the hammer!”
We would find the hammer for him, and then he would have lost sight of the mark he had made on the wall, where the nail was to go in, and each of us had to get up on the chair, beside him, and see if we could find it; and we would each discover it in a different place, and he would call us all fools, one after another, and tell us to get down. And he would take the rule, and re-measure, and find that he wanted half thirty-one and three-eighths inches from the corner, and would try to do it in his head, and go mad.
And we would all try to do it in our heads, and all arrive at different results, and sneer at one another. And in the general row, the original number would be forgotten, and Uncle Podger would have to measure it again.
He would use a bit of string this time, and at the critical moment, when the old fool was leaning over the chair at an angle of forty-five, and trying to reach a point three inches beyond what was possible for him to reach, the string would slip, and down he would slide on to the piano, a really fine musical effect being produced by the suddenness with which his head and body struck all the notes at the same time.
And Aunt Maria would say that she would not allow the children to stand round and hear such language.