The Word of Nietzsche

The realm for the essence and the coming-to-pass of nihilism is metaphysics itself—provided always that we do not mean by this name a doctrine, let alone only one particular discipline of philosophy, but that we think rather on the fundamental structuring of that which is, as a whole, insofar as that whole is differentiated into a sensory and a suprasensory world and the former is supported and determined by the latter. Metaphysics is history's open space wherein it becomes a destining that the suprasensory world, the Ideas, God, the moral law, the authority of reason, progress, the happiness of the greatest number, culture, civilization, suffer the loss of their constructive force and become void. We name this decay in the essence of the suprasensory its disessentializing [Verwesung].8 Unbelief in the sense of a falling away from the Christian doctrine of faith is, therefore, never the essence and the ground, but always only a consequence, of nihilism; for it could be that Christendom itself represents one consequence and bodying-forth of nihilism.

From here we are able also to recognize the last aberration to which we remain exposed in comprehending and supposedly combating nihilism. Because we do not experience nihilism as a historical movement that has already long endured, the ground of whose essence lies in metaphysics, we succumb to the ruinous passion for holding phenomena that are already and simply consequences of nihilism for the latter itself, or we set forth the consequences and effects as the causes of nihilism. In our thoughtless accommodation to this way of representing matters, we have for decades now accustomed ourselves to cite the dominance of technology or the revolt of the masses as the cause of the historical condition of the age, and we tirelessly dissect the intellectual situation of the time in keeping with such views. But every analysis of man and his position in the midst of what is, however enlightened and ingenious it may be, remains

8. The noun Verwesung in ordinary usage means decomposition, and the corresponding verb verwesen means to perish or decay. Heidegger here uses Verwesung in a quite literal sense, to refer to that ongoing event of the deposing of the suprasensory world in which the suprasensory loses its essence. As this event takes place, culminating in Nietzsche's decisive work of the overturning of metaphysics, metaphysics, as the truth of what is as such, becomes the very reverse of itself and enters into its own non-enduring.

Martin Heidegger (GA 5) The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays