Managing, calculating and missing the point


In Heidegger’s Postscript to “What is Metaphysics?” (1943) we find a foundational critique of calculative politics (and by extension any praxeology–including business management). The highlights are mine – CT:

“All calculation lets what is countable be resolved into something counted that can then be used for subsequent counting. Calculation refuses to let anything appear except what is countable. Everything is only whatever it counts. What has been counted in each instance secures the continuation of counting. Such counting progressively consumes numbers, and is itself a continual self-consumption. The calculative process of resolving beings into what has been counted counts as the explanation of their being. Calculation uses all beings in advance as that which is countable, and uses up what is counted for the purpose of counting. This use of beings that consumes them betrays the consuming character of calculation. Only because number can be infinitely multiplied, irrespective of whether this occurs in the direction of the large or the small, can the consuming essence of calculation hide behind its products and lend to calculative thinking the semblance of productivity – whereas already in its anticipatory grasping, and not primarily in its subsequent results, such thinking lets all beings count only in the form of what can be set at our disposal and consumed. Calculative thinking compels itself into a compulsion to master everything on the basis of the consequential correctness of its procedure. It is unable to foresee that everything calculable by calculation – prior to the sum-totals and products that it produces by calculation in each case – is already a whole, a whole whose unity indeed belongs to the incalculable that withdraws itself and its uncanniness from the claws of calculation. Yet that which everywhere and always from the outset has closed itself off from the intent behind calculation, and yet, in its enigmatic unfamiliarity, is at all times nearer to the human being than all those beings in which he establishes himself and his intentions, can at times attune the essence of the human being to a thinking whose truth no “logic” is capable of grasping. “

And immediately:

“That thinking whose thoughts not only cannot be calculated, but are in general determined by that which is other than beings, may be called essential thinking. Instead of calculatively counting on beings by means of beings, it expends itself in being for the truth of being. Such thinking responds to the claim of being, through the human being letting his historical essence be responsible to the simplicity of a singular necessity, one that does not necessitate by way of compulsion, but creates the need that fulfils itself in the freedom of sacrifice. “


This text is part of the collection published under the title “Pathmarks” (