40 • The Fundamental Question of Metaphysics

So in the end Nietzsche is entirely right when he calls the “highest concepts” such as Being “the final wisp of evaporating reality” (Twilight of the Idols VIII, 78).26 Who would want to chase after such a vapor, the term for which is just the name for a huge error! “In fact, nothing up to now has been more naively persuasive than the error of Being …” (VIII, 80).27

“Being”—a vapor and an error? What Nietzsche says here about Being is no casual remark, jotted down during the frenzy of labor in preparation for his authentic and never completed work. Instead, it is his guiding conception of Being since the earliest days of his philosophical labor. It supports and determines his philosophy from the ground up. But this philosophy remains, even now, well guarded against all the clumsy and trifling importunities [28|39] of the horde of scribblers that is becoming ever more numerous around him today. It seems that his work hardly has the worst of this misuse behind it. In speaking of Nietzsche here, we want nothing to do with all this—nor with a blind hero worship. The task is much too decisive and, at the same time, too sober for such worship. It consists first and foremost in fully unfolding that which was realized through Nietzsche by means of a truly engaged attack on him. Being—a vapor, an error! If this is so, then the only possible conclusion is that we should also give up the question, “Why are there beings as such and as a whole instead of nothing?” For what is the point of the question anymore, if what it puts into question is just a vapor and an error?

Does Nietzsche speak the truth? Or is he himself only the final victim of a long-standing errancy and neglect, but as this victim the unrecognized witness to a new necessity?

26. §4 of “‘Reason’ in Philosophy,” in Twilight of the Idols.

27. Ibid., §5.

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