The Word of Nietzsche

Preparatory thinking therefore maintains itself necessarily within the realm of historical reflection. For this thinking, history is not the succession of eras, but a unique nearness of the Same6 that, in incalculable modes of destining and out of changing immediacy, approaches and concerns thinking.

What is important to us now is the reflection pertaining to Nietzsche's metaphysics. Nietzsche's thinking sees itself as belonging under the heading "nihilism." That is the name for a historical movement, recognized by Nietzsche, already ruling throughout preceding centuries, and now determining this century. Nietzsche sums up his interpretation of it in the brief statement : "God is dead."

One could suppose that the pronouncement "God is dead" expresses an opinion of Nietzsche the atheist and is accordingly only a personal attitude, and therefore one-sided, and for that reason also easily refutable through the observation that today everywhere many men seek out the houses of God and endure hardships out of a trust in God as defined by Christianity. But the question remains whether the aforesaid word of Nietzsche is merely an extravagant view of a thinker about whom the correct assertion is readily at hand : he finally went mad. And it remains to ask whether Nietzsche does not rather pronounce here the word that always, within the metaphysically determined history of the West, is already being spoken by implication. Before taking any position too hastily, we must first try to think this pronouncement, "God is dead," in the way in which it is

6. For Heidegger the "Same" is a unity that-far from being abstract and simple-is rather a together that involves a reciprocal relation of belonging. That unity of belonging together springs out of the disclosing bringing-into-its-own (Ereignis) that is the unique bringing-to-pass that takes place within Being itself (d. T 45 ff.). It holds sway in the primal relatings of Being and what is, and of Being and man. Thus the Same is that very difference, that separating-between (Unter-Schied), out of which Being and what is endure as present in their differentiating, which is an indissoluble relating. And again, "thinking and Being belong together into the Same and from out of the Same." (See "The Principle of Identity," in Identity and Difference, pp. 27 ff., 90 ff.) Thus the Same of which Heidegger here speaks is the Same in the sense of the belonging together that rules in the modes of the destining of the Being of what is, and that concerns a thinking that apprehends that Being as determined out of that unity which gives distinctiveness while uniting. (See "The Onto-theo-logical Constitution of Metaphysics," in Identity and Difference, pp. 64 ff., 133 ff.)