Environmental Philosophy

Volume 15, Issue 2, Fall 2018

Craig Frayne
Pages 213-236

An Ecosemiotic Critique of Heidegger’s Concept of Enframing

This essay presents ecosemiotics as an approach to interpreting Heidegger in environmental philosophy. Comparisons between Heidegger’s philosophy and ecosemiotics have often focused on the 1929–1930 lecture course where Heidegger discusses Jakob von Uexküll’s notion of Umwelt. These and other ecological interpretations reach an impasse with the sharp ontological boundary Heidegger places between Dasein and more-than-human lifeforms. This essay revisits the theme by focusing on a central concept from Heidegger’s later work: enframing [Gestell]. Enframing, it is argued, can be understood as a rupture between human (cultural) and natural signs, which is a consequence of technological modernity. Although this interpretation diverges from Heidegger’s philosophy, such critical readings may be necessary if Heidegger’s work is to speak to today’s technologies and ecological issues.