THE AGE OF THE WORLD PICTURE


No less essential to the modern interpretation of beings is the representation of value. Where beings have become objects of representation, there, for the first time, in a certain sense, a loss of being occurs. This loss — vaguely and uncertainly enough perceived — is correspondingly quickly made up for through the fact that we attribute to the object and the thus-interpreted being a value; in general, we assess beings according to values and make them the goal of all action and activity. Since this latter conceives itself as culture, values become "cultural values" and these become the general expression of the highest goals of creation devoted to the self-establishment of man as subiectum. From here it is only a short step to making values into objects in themselves. Values become the objectification of needs as goals brought about by a representing self-establishment within the world as picture. Values appear to be the expression of the fact that, in relation to them, man strives to promote precisely what is most valuable. In fact, however, it is precisely "values" that are the powerless and threadbare mask of the objectification of beings, an objectification that has become flat and devoid of background. No one dies for mere values. For the sake of illuminating the nineteenth century, we should note, here, the intermediate position of Hermann Lotze. At the same time as he was interpreting Plato's ideas as values, Lotze undertook, under the title Microcosmos, that Attempt at an Anthropology (1856) which, while still drawing on the spirit of German idealism for the nobility and simplicity of its mode of thinking, at the same time also opened that thinking to positivism. Because Nietzsche's thought remains imprisoned in value-representation, he has to express what is essential to him in a retrospective form as the revaluation of all values. Only when we succeed in grasping Nietzsche's thought independently of value-representation, do we achieve a standpoint from which the work of the last thinker of metaphysics can be comprehended as an exercise in questioning, and his antagonism to Wagner as a necessity of our history.


(7) Correspondence, thought as the fundamental feature of the being of beings, provides the pattern for the very definite possibilities and ways in which the truth of this being of beings, within beings, sets itself into the work. The artwork of the Middle Ages and the absence of a world picture during this age belong together.


(8) But did not a Sophist at about the time of Socrates venture to say that "Man is the measure of all things, of what are, that they are, of what are not, that they are not"? Does not this statement of Protagoras sound as


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Off the Beaten Track (GA 5) by Martin Heidegger