OFF THE BEATEN TRACK


seen in relation to its extremes, it always has two meanings from the start, in that it designates the pure devaluation of the former highest values, but at the same time it also means the absolute countermovement to devaluation. Pessimism, which Nietzsche takes as the early form of nihilism, has the same double meaning. According to Schopenhauer, pessimism is the belief that in this the worst of worlds, life is not worth being lived and affirmed. According to this doctrine life, which means at the same time beings as such in their entirety, is to be negated. This pessimism, according to Nietzsche, is the "pessimism of weakness." Everywhere it sees only gloom, finds the reason that everything will end in failure, and claims to know (in the sense of universal failure) how everything will come out. In contrast, the pessimism of strength, and as strength, is in no way deceived, sees the dangers, wants no glossing over or dissimulation. It sees through to the disastrousness of merely lying in wait for the hitherto to return. It penetrates into phenomena analytically and demands awareness of the conditions and powers which, in spite of everything, secure the mastery of our historical situation.

A more essential reflection would be able to show in what Nietzsche calls the "pessimism of strength" how the uprising of modern humanity into the absolute domination of subjectivity within the subjectity of beings is fulfilled. Through pessimism in its twofold form, the extremes come to light. Extremes, as such, preserve their preponderance. So a condition is produced that is an absolute intensification into an either-or. An "intermediate" situation begins to show in which it is clear that, on the one hand, the former highest values are not being realized. The world appears value-less. On the other hand, through being made conscious of this fact, attention is directed to the source of the new dispensation of value, without the world thereby recovering its value.

It is true that, in face of the faltering domination of the former values, something else can be tried. That is, even if God in the sense of the Christian God has vanished from his place in the supersensory world, still the place itself is preserved, although it has become empty. One can still hold fast to the evacuated realm of the supersensory and ideal world. The empty place even invites its own re-occupation and calls for the God who disappeared from it to be replaced by another. New ideals are being erected. As Nietzsche represents it (The Will to Power, no. 1021, from 1887), this is happening through the doctrines of world happiness and through socialism, and likewise through Wagner's music, i.e., everywhere that "dogmatic Christianity" "has gone bankrupt." Thus "incomplete nihilism" arises, about which Nietzsche writes (The Will to Power, no. 28, from 1887): "Incomplete nihilism,


168


Nietzsche's Word: “God Is Dead” (GA 5) by Martin Heidegger