Why is Heidegger making a difference between 'zeug' (instruments) and a work of art?

The reason that I do not understand this difference is that in my experience every object has the power to show possibilities of being, in that showing me a world and conceiving other possibilities to.

1 Answer 1


Equipment (zeug) shows a world to the person using the equipment. A work of art gathers people into a shared world; as a temple, or in a museum. Shoes might be equipment to a peasant, but a painting of peasant's boots can show the world of the peasant to every viewer.

I'm paraphrasing from "The Origin of the Work of Art".

  • Thank you for your answer. I understand from your answer that 'zeug' is private and art can gather this for more people. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 10:29
  • I did not get that from the text. Still my question remains why Heidegger gives this unique quality to art. Lets say we are together in a field and see a farmer working. His using of zeug shows us his world and in this gathers us in this world. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 10:33
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    Heidegger is distinguishing between three categories of things: mere objects, instruments (things that are useful), and works, which gather people and reveal an understanding of being. A farmer could write a song or draw picture of their plow. The song or picture, when others view it, could be a work of art, if it reveals the world of the farmer.
    – Enowning
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 3:55

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