readily grasped if it declared : God himself, of his own accord, has distanced himself from his living presence. But that God should be killed by others and indeed by men is unthinkable. Nietzsche himself is astounded at this thought. It is only for that reason that immediately after the decisive words, "We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers," he allows the madman to ask : "But how have we done this?" Nietzsche elucidates the question as he repeats it, spelling out what is asked in three images : "How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun?"
To the last question we could answer: What men did when they unchained the earth from its sun is told in the last three and a half centuries of European history. What, then, has happened at the foundation of this history to that which is? When Nietzsche names the relationship between the sun and the earth he is not thinking merely of the Copernican revolution in the modern understanding of nature. The word "sun" at once recalls Plato's allegory. According to the latter, the sun and the realm of its light are the sphere in which that which is appears according to its visible aspect, or according to its many countenances (Ideas). The sun forms and circumscribes the field of vision wherein that which is as such shows itself.44 "Horizon" refers
44. Here "forms" translates bildet. The German bilden means to form, to shape, to constitute. In this passage the meaning of "constitute" should be heard within the translation "forms" virtually with the force of "is." The word "sun" speaks, as does the word "horizon" that follows, of the self-manifesting that characterizes what is as such. It speaks of what is as being, in itself, unconcealed. In thinking in his own way Nietzsche's—and Plato's—image of the sun, Heidegger speaks here of what is, the real, as that which is looked at because it lets itself be seen. It is just this character of what is—as what gives itself to sight—that, in what here immediately follows, he sees as transformed in the modern period, so that it appears differently when, under the dominion of the will to power, everything real is transformed into value, i.e., into "point-of-view," that both is seen and permits seeing. When possessed of this new character, what is, is no longer free to show itself directly in itself. It is, rather, either as subject or as object, always at the disposal of assertive self-consciousness, and hence of that mode of Being, the will to power, ruling in the latter. Accordingly, in his discussion of the meaning of value for Nietzsche as "point-of-view," Heidegger has said above (p. 72) : "Aim, view, field of vision, mean here both the sight beheld and seeing, in a sense that is determined from out of Greek thought . . . ."