Nietzsches Wort “Gott ist tot”

The Word of Nietzsche: “God Is Dead”

Heidegger delivered this lecture, published in 1950, in Holzwege, on several occasions in 1943. It is basically a summary of his interpretations in his five lecture courses on Friedrich Nietzsche, from 1936 until 1940. They were later published in his famous two-volume book, Nietzsche. In this lecture Heidegger understands Nietzsche’s thought as the completion of metaphysics from the perspective of the history of being.

The starting point of Heidegger’s interpretation is an explication of Nietzsche’s word “God is dead.” For Nietzsche, God is the Christian God understood in a non-Christian way as the symbol of the supersensible world of ideas and values. As the highest entity, God is the final ground of the being of all other entities. Plato’s supersensible world of ideas is separated form the merely apparent world of the senses and ordinary life. When Nietzsche claims that God is dead, he is really saying that the metaphysical world has lost its vitality. It has become a fable. We can no longer find our bearings in this world. It has become meaningless and means nothing at all. Nietzsche experiences the nothing at the heart of the metaphysical world and explains it as nihilism. Nihilism designates the basic movement in the history of Europe, which Heidegger identifies with the history of metaphysics.

Since the traditional interpretation of the beingness of entities has become meaningless, entities have also lost their value. This is the reason why Nietzsche proclaims the devaluation of all values, on the one hand, and proposes a revaluation of values on the other. For Nietzsche, all being is becoming, all becoming is willing, and all willing is an expression of the will to power. Nietzsche interprets the beingness of entities as will to power. This will only wants its own becoming, and this never-ending becoming is an eternal recurrence of the same. With the will to power, Nietzsche has also found his principle of valuation. What is valuable is that which enhances the will to power.

For Heidegger, the errancy of nihilism lies in its taking the truth of entities, as such, as being. To overcome metaphysics we must take a step back into its origin: the Ereignis of being. Nietzsche interprets the essence of entities as will to power and their existence as an eternal recurrence of the same. His thought is, therefore, still guided by the two fundamental categories of metaphysics, existentia and essentia. As Heidegger sees it, Nietzsche did not overcome metaphysics. His philosophy is the culmination of metaphysics, because he failed to ask the question of the original enactment of truth as unconcealment and the truth of self-revealing concealment, that is, the truth of being.