The difference lies elsewhere, in modern technology’s orientation to the world. Modern technology’s mode of revealing is not poeisis.

The revealing that rules in modern technology is a challenging [Herausfordern], which puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such.

Heidegger’s argument in the next few pages may seem quite familiar. It is, in a sense, an ecological argument. Heidegger views the difference between older forms of technology (the windmill, for example, which draws its energy from the wind but does not extractand store that energy) and modern technology which exploits and exhausts—in Heidegger’s terms, “challenges”—our planet’s resources.

Another example illustrates the difference between technology’s “challenging forth” and poetry’s “revealing.” Heidegger uses the Rhine River, a potent symbol in German national culture, to show how technology transforms our orientation to the world. When we build hydroelectric dam on the river, the meaning of the river changes: it becomes an energy resource. Heidegger contrasts “the Rhine” viewed as a source of hydroelectric power and “the Rhine” as it appears in the work of the German poet Friedrich Höderlin, in which the river appears as the source of philosophical inspiration and cultural (and, for some readers, nationalistic) pride. It is interesting to note here that Heidegger extends his critique of technology to include the tourism industry, which in its own way transforms the natural world into raw materials, a source of profit.

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