OFF THE BEATEN TRACK


everything according to values is nihilism when thought in relation to being itself, then even Nietzsche's experience of nihilism as the devaluation of the highest values is still nihilistic. The interpretation of the supersensory world, the interpretation of God as the highest value is not thought on the basis of being itself. The final blow against God and against the supersensory world consists in reducing God, the beingness of beings [das Seiende des Seienden], to the highest value. The harshest blow against God is not that God is held to be unknowable, nor that God's existence is proved to he unprovable, but rather that the God who is taken for real is elevated to the highest value. This blow is the harshest precisely because it docs not come from unbelievers standing about, but from the faithful and their theologians, who talk of the beingmost of all beings without ever Letting it occur to them to think about being itself and thereby become aware that this thinking and that talking, from the perspective of the faith, is absolute blasphemy when it is mixed into the theology of the faith.

Only now has even a faint light come into the darkness of the question that we had wanted to put to Nietzsche when we were listening to the passage about the madman: how can it really happen that men are capable of ever killing God? Obviously, however, this is exactly what Nietzsche thinks. For in the entire passage only two sentences are specifically emphasired by italics. The first reads: "We killed him," that is, God. The other: "and yet they have done it themselves," that is, men did commit the act of the killing of God, although they had not yet heard anything about it to that day.

The two emphasized sentences give the interpretation for the word "God is dead." It does not mean (as it would if spoken from denial and a low hatred): there is no God. The word means something more dire: God has been killed. It is only in this way that the critical thought comes to light. However, understanding it has become even more difficult. For the word "God is dead" would be far more readily understood if it announced: of his own will God himself removed himself from living presence. But that God is supposed to be killed by others, and by men at that, is unthinkable. Nietz.o;che himself is surprised by this thought. That is why, immediately after the critical declaration "We've killed him — you and I. We are all his murderers!", he has the madman ask: "But how have we done this?" Nietzsche clarifies the question by repeating it in three images: "How were we able to drink the sea dry? Who gave tiS the sponge to wipe the entire horizon away? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun?"

We could offer this answer to the last question: what men did when they unchained the earth from its sun is told by the European history of


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