What is happening with the hitherto highest values? What is the significance of the devaluation of these values in regard to the revaluation of all values? Because thinking in terms of values is grounded in the metaphysics of the will to power, Nietzsche's interpretation of nihilism, as the process of devaluing the highest values and revaluing all values, is a metaphysical interpretation; it is metaphysical, in fact, in the sense of the metaphysics of the will to power. However, in that Nietzsche grasps his own thinking (the doctrine of the will to power as the "principle of the new dispensation of value") in the sense of the actual completion of nihilism, he no longer understands nihilism only negatively as the devaluation of the highest values, but rather also positively, as the overcoming of nihilism; for the reality of what is real as that reality is now explicitly experienced, the will to power, has become the origin and measure of a new dispensation of values. The values of this dispensation of values directly determine human representation and likewise fuel human transactions. Being human is raised into a different dimension of occurring.

In the excerpt we read, § 125 from La Gaya Scienza, the madman has this to say about the action by men through which God was killed, i.e., through which the supersensory world was devalued: "There has never been a greater deed — and any who will be born after us will partake, for this deed's sake, of a history higher than all history in time past!"

With the consciousness that "God is dead" a consciousness begins to form of a radical revaluation of the hitherto highest values. After such consciousness, man himself moves into another history that is higher because in it the principle of all dispensation of value, the will to power, is specifically experienced and undertaken as the reality of what is real, as the being of beings. Self-consciousness, in which modem humanity has its essence, thereby takes the final step. It wills itself as the enforcer of the absolute will to power. The decline of nonnative values is at an end. Nihilism — "that the highest values devalue themselves" — is overcome. The humanity that wills its own being-human as the will to power and finds this being-human to be at home in the reality determined in its entirety by the will to power is determined by a form of human essence that goes beyond erstwhile man.

The name for this form of humanity's essence that goes beyond the previous race is "the overman." By that term Nietzsche does not understand some isolated human specimen in whom the capacities and intentions of the men we see every day have been gigantically magnified and intensified. Nor is "the overman" the sort of man who only comes into being by way of


Off the Beaten Track (GA 5) by Martin Heidegger