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THE WILL TO POWER AS ART


that is, establishment of the uppermost value in terms of which and according to which all beings are to be. The uppermost value is the one that must be fundamental for all beings insofar as they are beings. A "new" valuation would therefore posit another value, in opposition to the old, decrepit one, which should be determinative for the future. For that reason a critique of the highest values hitherto is advanced beforehand, in Book II. The values in question are religion, specifically, the Christian religion, morality, and philosophy. Nietzsche's manner of speaking and writing here is often imprecise and misleading: religion, morality, and philosophy are not themselves the supreme values, but basic ways of establishing and imposing such values. Only for that reason can they themselves, mediately, be posited and taken as "highest values."

The critique of the highest values hitherto does not simply refute them or declare them invalid. It is rather a matter of displaying their origins as impositions which must affirm precisely what ought to be negated by the values established. Critique of the highest values hitherto therefore properly means illumination of the dubious origins of the valuations that yield them, and thereby demonstration of the questionableness of these values themselves. Prior to this critique, which is offered in Book II, the first book advances an account of European nihilism. Thus the work is to begin with a comprehensive presentation of the basic development of Western history, which Nietzsche recognizes in its range and intensity here for the first time: the development of nihilism. In Nietzsche's view nihilism is not a Weltanschauung that occurs at some time and place or another; it is rather the basic character of what happens in Occidental history. Nihilism is at work even—and especially—there where it is not advocated as doctrine or demand, there where ostensibly its opposite prevails. Nihilism means that the uppermost values devalue themselves. This means that whatever realities and laws set the standard in Christendom, in morality since Hellenistic times, and in philosophy since Plato, lose their binding force, and for Nietzsche that always means creative force. In his view nihilism is never merely a development of his own times; nor does it pertain only to the nineteenth century. Nihilism begins in the pre-Christian


Martin Heidegger (GA 6 I) Nietzsche 1