OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
an error. Metaphysics, as the history of the truth of beings as such, would be what came to be out of the destiny of being itself. In its essence metaphysics would be the unthought - because withheld - mystery of being itself. Were it otherwise, a thinking that diligently holds to what must be thought, to being, could not ceaselessly ask: What is metaphysics?
Metaphysics is an• epoch of the history of being itself. In its essence, however, metaphysics is nihilism. The essence of nihilism is part of the history in which, as which, being itself essences. If the nothing, wherever else it points, also points to being, then it may well be more likely that the being-historical determination of nihilism shows the region, at least, within which the essence of nihilism is able to be experienced, in order to become something that is thought [etwas Gedachtes], something that concerns our remembrance [Andenken]. We are very much accustomed to hear a discordant note in the name nihilism. However, as soon as we reflect on the being-historical essence of nihilism, then something discomfiting is added to our merely hearing a discordant note. The name nihilism says that the nihil (the nothing) is, and is in an essential way, in what it names. Nihilism means: with everything in every respect, the nothing is going on. Everything: beings in their entirety. Moreover, a particular being [das Seiende], when it is experienced as a particular being, stands in each of its respects. Nihilism means, then, that the nothing is going on with beings as such in their entirety. But beings are what they are and how they are on the basis of being. Provided that every "is" is the responsibility of being, then the essence of nihilism consists in the fact that there is nothing going on with being itself. Being itself is being in its truth, which truth belongs to being.
If we hear in the name nihilism that other note, in which there sounds the essence of what it names, then we also hear differently into the language of the metaphysical thinking that has experienced something of nihilism but without being able to think its essence. Perhaps with that other note in our car, we will one day think differently than we have so far about the age in which nihilism was beginning to be completed. Perhaps we will then recogni7. e that neither sociological, nor technological, nor scientific, nor even metaphysical and religious perspectives are enough to think what is happening in this age. What there is for thinking to think is not some deeply hidden deeper meaning, but rather something lying close by: something that is lying most closely, which we, because that is all it is, have therefore
a First edition, 1950: the?
Nietzsche's Word: “God Is Dead”