Andrew J. Mitchell on thinking things after Heidegger.
To be a thing is to exist relationally, not objectively. Such a state thus
requires that there be no subject present who objectifies the thing in question.
But this is not to say that the human is to do nothing in the face of
things. Doing nothing is still doing something. Rather it is a matter of doing
that which facilitates the relational unfurling of the thing. Heidegger terms
this comportment guarding (bewahren). This non-objectifiying coming-intorelation
with things allows them to reach us. And because we are not doing
nothing in this relation, it allows us to reach them as well. This contact is the
appeal of things—that we might touch them and that they might touch us.
Heidegger does not term this relation ethical, but, in my view, it is the ethical
end of any thinking after Heidegger. Across the history of philosophy,
there seems to have been an increasing expansion of the beings toward which
we are willing to behave ethically. We have accorded such respect to other
rational beings, to other human beings, to other living beings, and now after
Heidegger we should continue the thought and accord that respect to things
(and objects and commodities as well!). Ethical action would be measured
action and measured action need not be restricted to beings like us. It can
apply to all, especially those least like us. Perhaps that is where both an ethics
after Heidegger and a thinking after Heidegger should begin.