Technique has become the supreme law of modern mankind. It threatens to extinguish freedom on earth. This study examines the metaphysical thought from which this catastrophic event has proceeded.
Taken as a whole, this collection of essays constitutes a study of the movement of thought by which modern western technique has assumed the position of supreme law, displacing all others and reducing mankind to the character of a uniform mass of disposable labor. It poses anew the question of the destiny of freedom on earth.
Most essays are attempts to enter into a dialogue with the great thinkers of modern times, from Kant to Heidegger, regarding the sense of this catastrophic event. They take as points of departure questions of law – obligation and freedom, friendship and grace, sanction and pain, language and truth, positive law and the law of nature – that occupy a salient place in the works under study. “Law” is here understood in its most essential sense as that in and through which a people determines its destiny.
All essays but one were published earlier, dispersed in a variety of journals. They are reprinted here in chronological order, as they originally appeared. Many small misprints, omissions and other misreadings of the original typescripts have been corrected. Format and style, particularly in the footnotes, have been made consistent across all chapters.