Saturday, 30 September 2017 15:36

Heidegger and the word of Nietzsche: “God is dead”

Written by Gabriel Baicu
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In analysing Nietzsche’s philosophy, Deleuze reinserted that, “morality has replaced religion as a dogma and that science is increasingly replacing morality.”[1]  Is there any connection between these affirmations and the word of Nietzsche: “God is dead?” In a sense I think it is. Of course Nietzsche’s philosophy presents a very complex mechanism, which is intended to dismantle, what was dominant and determinant in the European history for so long, namely, the Christian doctrine. The Judeo-Christian tradition was formed as a very complicate process in which many elements must be considered. After becoming official, in the Roman Empire, in 313 A.D., Christianity transformed itself under the political pressure, exercised on it, by the leadership of the Roman state and mainly by the Roman emperor Constantine. From a morality, emphasizing peace more than anything else, Christianity was transformed in a politico-religious ideology, able to be an adequate instrument for the ruling of millions of peoples.

In order to attend to this goal God was elevated to an unreachable level, almost completely separated from the world. Beyond any possibility of understanding Him, God was placed under the protection of an ideal realm heavily guarded by the concepts of Greek philosophy. His representatives became His loudspeakers and none else was even able to have a glimpse of Him. In a very subtle way the old philosophy of Greece was discovered as a conceptual tool, in order to explain and understand God. It was the same philosophy, which rejected the possibility of such a God when Apostle Paul presented the Christianity to Greeks.  Platonism looked as the most suitable conception to represent a deity outside the world, who direct and control humanity. The only difficulty, which was created, was the fact that such a philosophy couldn’t really assimilate the spirit of Christianity, one which presupposes a personal involvement between God and human beings.

Nietzsche was a philosopher who understood very well the philosophical failure of Christianity and he criticized the roots of such a situation. The separation between the ideal realm of God and the reality of the world with the imposition of the former over the latter was one of the main causes of the misrepresenting of God. For Plato the world of Ideas was the real one, the truth, unchangeable, idealized reality and the instable sensible world was only a domain of shadows, of appearances. Transposed and subordinated by Christianity, through the philosophy of neo-Platonists and Fathers of the Church this Platonist pattern suited perfectly to the need of rationality, which summoned the Church. The question is: why this acute need for rationality? Faith was supposed to sustain itself through the power of God and miracles and not through the force of the metaphysical argumentation. It is probable that a certain apostasy in the Church made impossible the spread of the Christian faith only through its own means and also, as an ideology, the Christianity needed rational arguments to fight its battles. I suppose that from the beginning the theoretical side of Christianity was coined with a view of being able to counterbalance any ideological opposition to it and to dominate the earthly world.

Nietzsche aptly saw this kind of determination and went to its roots, until its metaphysical origins. As a matter of fact Nietzsche was mainly preoccupied of philosophy and of the dissolution of values, a movement, which was named nihilism. He didn’t really criticize Christianity as a possibility of a miraculous path towards the universe but he negated the philosophical fundament of it, casting doubts about its rational support. “God is dead” is a philosophical concept and doesn’t question the possibility of the existence of God, as a reality, but the metaphysical description of such a possibility. Not been proven by philosophy, the reality of God is denied, by a countermovement, which proposes itself to overturn the history of metaphysics, which sustains and imposes to the modern thinking this possibility. Trying to sustain the idea of the existence of God is one thing but imposing the certitude of that existence through metaphysics was another. Nietzsche reaction was a normal one and he refuted the philosophical basis for the existence of God, but from within the metaphysical tradition itself. At this point Heidegger is showing that unless the question of Being of beings is well understood and not obstructed, as it was, by the history of metaphysics, the real essence of man can’t be grasped. Even if there is not so much place for God, in Heidegger’s philosophy, on the other side he opened a line of questioning, which can be very useful for someone who wants to reignite the problem of God in philosophy. I am saying all this only to show that the problematic put in question by the word of Nietzsche “God is dead” remains in actuality and that the solution given by Heidegger to the history of metaphysics is very important in order to open new directions in philosophy.

As Deleuse quoted, reaffirming the Nietzsche ideas: “Christianity as dogma has been ruined by its own morality” and this is a phrase from the “Genealogy of Morals.” The understanding of religion today is not the same as in the past. “What has triumphed of the Christian God is Christian morality itself” or “the instinct for truth in the end forbids itself the lie of faith in God” are rhetorical formulas with no much power of persuasion in them. As far as we can see, the Christian morality is more affected by the laicisation of society than the hope in the existence of a God. On the other side for Nietzsche the “instinct for truth” is not a determination for truth for its own sake but only an adjuvant of the Will to Power. But Nietzsche didn’t go so far as to speculate that the thirst for power, present also in man and intrinsic to the Will to Power can go up even to envy and will, for man, a power similar to God’s. Nevertheless, in Nietzsche’s framework of thinking man can’t take the place of God and Heidegger made that clear.

As Deleuse remember us through Nietzsche thoughts: “Morality is the continuation of religion but by other means; knowledge is the continuation of morality and religion but by other means.” The reactive forces, referring to the ascetical ideal that competes with each other are changing. In this way they determine a modification of meaning of the ideal itself. Critique is not to be confused with the manifestation of this competition. In the same time Nietzsche adds that “morality also must be on the road to ruin.” For that happening Nietzsche requires a change of ideal, something else, different from the ascetic ideal, “a different way of felling.” But any ideal requires morality and in turn this calls for virtue, which in its turn asks for truth. As Deleuse said “Virtue answers for religion, truth for virtue,” consequently “critique must be a critique of truth itself.”[2] Christianity had to drop many of its assertions and the “most striking inference” about itself is put in discussion when the right question is formulated: “What is the meaning of all will to truth?” It is an interrogation not avoided by Nietzsche. As Deleuze put it “what meaning would our whole being possess if it where not this, that in us the will to truth becomes conscious of itself as a problem?” Because the will to truth gains self consciousness – morality will gradually perish now. For Nietzsche, the ascetic ideal no longer has any hiding place beyond the will to truth, no longer has anyone to answer for it.[3] This is the moment of feeling differently, of changing ideals. Calling the will to truth into question is a solution to prevent the ascetic ideal to continue it in other forms. But we don’t replace the ascetic ideal, we want to destroy the place, we want another ideal in another place, another way of knowing, another concept of truth, one which presupposes a completely different will.[4] Deleuse summarised very expressively the radicalism of Nietzsche’s approach in philosophy and its intention of shaking the whole establishment of the history of metaphysics when promoting the formula: “God is dead.”

  Chapter 1: General considerations about Nietzsche’s philosophy

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 Absolute Spirit, for Hegel, that is the Being of beings, represent in the same time the Absolute Will. This was for Hegel the implicit necessity by reason of which the Absolute grasps into itself the complete seizure of itself. Schopenhauer stood between Hegel and Nietzsche. It is obvious that Nietzsche is indebt for the concept of Will to Power to Schopenhauer. Based on Leibniz expanded notion of subject, which embraced not only the human ego but all beings, insofar as they are dynamic, Being was conceived in the modern thought as the dynamism of dynamic beings. This type of movement came to be represented as Will. Nietzsche understood Being as a universal Becoming and express it as Will. In the same time the Will must not be understood in pure psychological terms because it is not such a thing but rather it is a mastery over what is wiled. It is a commanding, which implies a knowledgeable power of disposition over the possibilities of any given action to be performed.

When commanding, one who commands accedes to his own power of disposition and in this way obeys himself. First of all to command is a mastery of him or herself, it is a self conquest. By letting one’s own disposing power be itself, the will wills its own wiling. It is a will-unto-wiling and for this reason passes beyond itself. [5] Brings itself under its own control but doesn’t stop to that but wills to become stronger and more itself in further willing. The level of achievement already attained is the basis for further achievements. In the process of growth the moment of overcoming the relative rest preserves a verifiable constant of the whole movement. The relative rest and the overcoming of this moment are both necessary for the living process. They are conditions imposed by Will itself. The moment of consolidation come to pass when Will master itself and thus submits to itself. In its dynamic toward becoming stronger the Will moves toward more and more power. This movement passes from moments of own mastery, when Will submits to itself, moments of constancy, toward overpowering of itself. [6]  The word “Power” means the manner by which the Will wills itself. These correlative conditions are posed by the nature of the Will.

In any case Will-unto-Power must not to be associated with a type of psychological or anthropological interpretation. This kind of Will is not the want or desire of subjectivity to exercise the extent of its domination. Will-unto-Power is the “word of Being.” In fact Nietzsche engages in a destruction of the traditional psychological-metaphysical conception of Will in the Western culture. In the classical representation the Will is understood as a faculty of subjectivity. It is seen as the necessary cause of all possible action. Nietzsche starts his analyse regarding the Will-unto-Power with the strange assessment that there is not Will. Why? Firstly, because Will is never for Nietzsche a central focal point from which can be derived the possibility of a concrete comportment. Will is plural and complex and is never generated by a first primary cause. There is neither a centre nor an origin and will refuses any pretensions of identification. There are a plurality and multiplicity of phenomena but not a real substantiality backing the will. The identification of will is just a figurative composition of a diversity of elements. What is called will is an impossible compound of sentiment and affect and it is always characterized post factum. For Nietzsche will is just a secondary product of an internal chain of events or phenomena, which precedes it. What we call will is the result of a struggle between competing forces and the triumph of one over the others. There is not a common denominator under which one can subsume the multiplicity of wills.

 For Nietzsche the problem of Man is that he is unable to really separate the causes from the effects and confounds the sickness with the symptoms. The real philosophy is from the body the place where emotions and affects express themselves, creating powerful movements, which can’t be systematized and conceptualized as such, because escape to a rational investigation, but generates the inner core of a multiplicity and proliferation of differentiations. Is it a new foundation for rationality or a negation of it or it is a new direction to look for something, which was not yet been thought? The history of philosophy kept unthought-of the inner dynamic of the body, the basics levels of the movements of the “wills” and the way in which will emerges. It should be said that Will-unto-Power doesn’t restrict to the domain of unconscious or the body but imply all forces including the ones of the world. The expression Will-unto-Power applies to the entire domain of forces and their orientation. Will-unto-Power is the name for the tensions or polarities which structure and determine forces. The play of diversity creates a continued multiplication of instable perspectives, a struggle of different directions, which fight between each other to get access and dominance. The complexity of Nietzsche’s understanding of Will-unto-Power doesn’t allow reducing the force to a singular one, which diversifies itself. Nietzsche attributes to force an interior will, an unaccomplished and never ending movement of the deployment of force. What is Power? It is a permanent increase, surplus of power towards which will is willing. This is a law of Force or of Will. This is an internal command, to be continuously in an increase of itself. There are nevertheless different directions such as: to augment itself, to surpass itself or to degenerate itself. There is an acting force and a reacting force, the ascending life or the decadent life. The dynamic of Will being the same, the direction can be changed towards decadence, the will, willingly, refuses the “movement of life.” It is a progress, an increase, which Nietzsche sees it as will towards nothingness.

Will-unto-Power presents itself to itself as a chaotic and in the same time contradictory diversity of elementary compulsions. The possibilities present themselves as a continuous excess or supplementary of a primitive affectivity. In this internal “Chaos,” which is not at all a disorder that can be judged in relation to some possible order, but a proliferation of forces, Will-unto-Power appears in the same time as a principle of this forces and an extension of their possibility. Nietzsche said: “The powerful man is the one who desires to see the Chaos.” That means to confront the internal complexity of its own affectivity and to “master” that which in itself can’t be “mastered” in its continuous proliferation. To master doesn’t mean to control but to express “in style.” The weak will is the one which looks for a solution for the Chaos, to enclose the life in a conceptual order, which seems like a safeguard for the mind but is a prison for Life. The dynamic of Life is uncontrollable by the structures of the rationality and when such an imposed construction is forced upon it, Life react by trying to overthrow an overwhelming conceptuality. To master doesn’t mean the dictatorship of the conceptuality over Life but to face, to understand and to open to a new space where the forces need to supplement themselves in an incessant manner. The meaning of powerful is to assume the variety of difference and plurality and weak is the ongoing search for protection sometimes thought in the fictional realm of an ideal.

The Being of beings is conceived as a process of Becoming, Life force, Will, within which certain complex structures form. What is a value and in what sense it is an aspect of all this? An aspect is that, which is seen by a seeing. In the case of value, what precisely is seen and who is it that sees? Heidegger gave an answer in Nietzsche’s name to that questioning. What is seen are the conditions of universal Will. The one which sees is the Will-unto-Power itself. It is as if universal Will, which is the Being of the beings, is also a process of Self-awareness, which sees itself in its evolution. Consciousness belongs to Will. This seeing by which Will sees itself as itself, that is Life in growth, is the seeing which poses the necessary conditions of itself. What is seen and posed is “value.” The possession of values is in fact the attribute of Will-unto-Power and they are the self-posed conditions of its own unfolding. According to its very essence, the Will-unto-Power is a value posing Will. As the Being of beings, Will is the ground of all value and as such philosophy becomes a philosophy of values. The two fundamental values in the Nietzsche’s system are truth and art. In a further chapter I will analyze what truth means for Nietzsche and for Heidegger. [7]

The second determining principle for Nietzsche is “the eternal return of the selfsame.” Nietzsche tries to overcome the negative nihilism figuring out how man may pass from his present condition to a new comprehension of Being and as such to a superior condition. Nietzsche makes the difference between the man as he was until now, the last man and man as he should be, the “superior,” or “super-“ man.  The reason why the “modern man” is lost in a value-less nihilism is that he has not really entered into himself. Failing to do that, he cannot understand and appreciate correctly his own nature and consequently cannot assume it. The super-man has comprehended himself and accepted his real nature, in terms of the Will-unto-Power and consequently he has a new relation to Being. The super-man brings the essence of man into the truth and freely assumes that truth. A certain correspondence can be made between this principle and the Heidegger’s idea of the difference between the inauthentic and the authentic man. Heidegger defined Nietzsche’s problem in the following terms: how can man overcome his fallen condition and achieve authenticity and this in the context of Will-unto-Power? The answer is found in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” in which the hero is super-man in the state of becoming. He questions himself in order to know if his will corresponds to the Will-unto-Power, which dominates the totality of beings. [8] Seen in this way the function of super-man is a responding to Will-unto-Power as the Being of beings. The modern man is characterized by a spirit of vengeance triggered by the nihilism of values. Freedom from this spirit is the effigy of super-man. The achieving of authenticity is precisely this kind of liberation.

Man is for Nietzsche a rational animal and that is along the lines of metaphysical tradition. The man was conceived as a complex compound of a “sensible,” animal element and the rational element “supra-sensible,” which characterizes his being. The sensible can be named also “physical,” and the supra-sensible metaphysical. In man the passage from physical to metaphysical is realized. For Nietzsche man is a metaphysical being but doesn’t learn to appreciate fully this fact. The present-ational side of beings is the one which count for the human rational, which makes present for himself the beings through diverse mental operations. Surely the “spirit of vengeance” must not be understood as “retaliation” but rather as “persecution.” As Heidegger pose it, for Nietzsche, the modern man “do violence” to beings, which he pro-poses, in the sense that he submits them to his own control, decom-poses them by his analysis, and dis-poses of them, in a arbitrary way. The original pro-posing has become distorted, by the persecution of beings. This is how Nietzsche understands the “spirit of vengeance” and from this the modern man has to be set free if the aim is to overcome nihilism. Only when man understands the full importance of Being as Will-unto-Power he can see that the “spirit of vengeance” is completely stranger to it because this is foreign to Will as Will. It is improper to universal Will that anything resist it in any way. The willing implies domination on what is willed. Will is subdued only to itself and that is customary when Will overcomes the conditions of its own unfolding. The Will is in a relation with itself that is wills itself and nothing outside this dynamic is supposed to resist.

The way to authenticity is the man response to the universal Will as the “eternal return of the selfsame.” Firstly one has to have a look on Nietzsche’s understanding of time. It must be said that Nietzsche’s conception of time is inherited from and doesn’t overcome the history of metaphysics. Like everyone before him, starting with Aristotle, Nietzsche understands time as a series of “now” in their succession. The not-yet-“now”, which is the future, passes by the present “now” in order to become immediately a no-longer-“now,” which is the past. Nietzsche sees a sort of resistance of the past to universal Will, because the latter is always facing forward toward more Willing. Nietzsche conceives pure Willing in the sense that the past is dissolved in a “now” that remains. Time is purified of that which makes it “merely temporal.” In a certain manner time for Nietzsche becomes eternalized. There is a movement, circle fashion, which can be designated as return, and a consolidation, which can be refer to as “eternal.” The triumph of metaphysics is that: “…Will eternally wills the eternity of willing. ...” [9] In order to become a super-man, man has to comprehend and accept the Will as the “eternal return.”

There is a very strong connection between Nietzsche’s understanding of the link between the Being of beings and the nature of man as promoted in Zarathustra and the dynamic which takes shape in the Dasein in Heidegger’s Being and Time. There are also important differences due to Nietzsche’s metaphysical limitations. Nietzsche doesn’t do the correlation between Being and the nature of man as such. The essence of the relationship between the human nature and Being as the relation of this essence to Being and the origin of this essence was not thought. Heidegger went beyond metaphysics by passing from present-ative thinking to foundational thought. [10] Heidegger noticed that Nietzsche’s philosophy remains oblivious to the Being-process itself. 

A little more should be said about nihilism and Nietzsche. The word nihilism designates a situation in which the supreme or absolute values are brought down and labelled as nullity with reference to their validity. The word nihilism applies also to development of the European metaphysical tradition since Plato. For Hegel history is seen as the deployment of man to its supreme and absolute state of perfection and eternity. For Nietzsche this kind of perfection is in fact a movement in which decadence reveals itself. For Nietzsche nihilism is always present in the history of humankind and not less in the actuality. Nihilism is not a conception or a way to criticize reality but a state of being, which is normal for humanity. Nihilism can’t be cured but only surpassed. It is an emptiness of all significations so much so that all meaning if it were to get any sense it is only from non-meaning. Nietzsche noted a full tiredness of the Western civilization, exhaustion, out of this lack of meaning, which generates a disgust of man for man. All has an equal non-value: evil, good, truth, falsity. Only because nihilism is complete disorientation can reverse it and become sudden liberation. Coming to the point of identifying this nihilism, where man finds comfort in the emptiness of meaning, he opens in this actuality an in-actuality of joy. The “Last Man” is the one who grasps the signification of nihilism even if the mankind is still unaware of this signification. The “Last man” is the one who grasps the “meaning” of the death of God.

Among all other values the destruction of the religious values is the most acute ruining of all ideals because it is a wrecking of the intelligibility, of all idea. The death of God means the disappearance of the domination of concepts and fixed intellectual structures upon the sensible, imperfect, changeable world.  The death of God is the failure of all philosophical tradition based on Plato’s philosophy and it should be emphasized that in truth the Christian tradition was based on that way of understanding. The matter of fact is that the God of philosophers is mainly the God of Plato in the way that was filtrated and adapted by a long tradition of theology.

On the other side I maintain that God is dead only within the restricted limits of Nietzsche’s metaphysics and but this doesn’t mean that, with it, all thinking about the possibility of God are exhausted. The inadequacy of this way of thinking, noted by Nietzsche, doesn’t guaranty the impossibility of any other way of thinking about God. I could agree with Nietzsche that the manner in which the Greek philosophical tradition was adopted by theologians, in a sense attempted to the life of God, because suffocated a more dynamic way of understanding, placing God above Life and even beyond existence, in a realm of impossibility. This uniformity, this linearity and rigidity, which situated God at the exclusive level of rationality, the logos which is in language, is a misplacing of the divinity who don’t forget to remember humankind about love, which is an all encompassing way of understanding life. It is true that the choice between love and hatred is made at a rational level and in a sense the complexity of the earthly life can’t be reduced to the unilateralism of just one direction, but love itself can be seen as a continuous need for increasing a certain presence in the world a supplementation or excess which explains a internal dynamism. As far as God is love he is not dead because love is a force of attraction, which explains everything through its movement. The ideas can be overcome or exceed by life, but love is life and God is love. The Christianity teaches that “the letter (the rigidity of the concepts or ideas) kills but the Spirit gives life.” The discontent and the emptiness of values are explained by the oversimplification of God who is not just an idea or a concept or even a representative of a supra-sensible world, created by man, but has a life of his own independent of human creation. God is not a human creation that goes together with the history of metaphysics but a reality which have to be understood in its own right. In fact Nietzsche is correct in saying that when transforming God in the representative of a way of thinking, or of the history of metaphysics, his death intervene in the same time with the failure of that way of philosophizing. God of the philosophers is not necessarily the one of the faith and is true that, in a sense, God has not been understood and remains hidden in the history of metaphysics. Can He not be understood by a classic metaphysical way of thinking, which is not proper to that purpose, or we have to think a whole new way of understanding God rationally, which doesn’t exclude entirely metaphysics?

As a thought exercise, it can be asked, not entirely outside of Nietzsche’s framework of thinking: can God be conceived as something interior to Life and not exterior to it? The answer would be negative, if given by Nietzsche, but a positive answer can be imagined as a possibility. The place of God has to be in the interiority of Life if it were to be somewhere at all, because the Christianity teaches that God is eternal life. It is true that the dynamic of the God’s life it is not at all understood in the history of metaphysics and He is conceived as an unmovable, unchangeable reality which looks rather dead then alive and that, because life is continuous movement. It is entirely correct, by Nietzsche, to see Life as a permanent dynamic and that is opposed to the lack of dynamic attributed to God by the philosophers. “What changes can’t be God because what changes is not the perfect actuality but has still unfulfilled potentialities, consequently it is not the embodiment of perfection,” they say, but this assertion is far from the reality of God, in my opinion. This is a possibility open up in Nietzsche’s thinking but unthought-of by him. In fact what I saw in Nietzsche and Heidegger, as unthought-of by them is the opening of a new place for God, a space from which God can be rediscovered as something who find its place in an unceasing displacement of any attempt to displace him.

To come back to Nietzsche’s view about the death of God, for him, it is the disappearance of all given identities and with them the idea about the sovereignty of reason, that means that of subjectivity.  For Nietzsche, all returns to Chaos, this is to Life, a movement, that can’t be explained dialectically and doesn’t have a determined end. What is negated in nihilism is Life itself through a retraction of the Will-unto-Power from its proper affirmation. It is not only our internal biological complexity but also the movement of the world as plurality and contradiction, which nihilism discovers as a movement which tries to reduce everything to the abstract schema of rationality. It is the domination of the “idea” on reality, the true process of deadening the free movement of Life. It is not that Life can’t be transposed in thought or ideas, or it is irrational, but it is about the imposition of given thoughts or undue rational mechanisms, which paralyzes the free dynamic of the Will-unto-Power and creates false values. The world reveals and deploys many attributes that in fact Life doesn’t possess: unity, identity happiness, truth. This kind of imposition of rationality over the reality started with Plato. In the history of metaphysics manifests itself a negation of Life, a depreciation of the sensible world, which is considered secondary to the Ideas. Nevertheless this kind of negation it is not declared and it is not evident.

For Nietzsche, the history of metaphysics is that of producing of what it is not. It is about values, which doesn’t represent anything real, in fact non-values, such as truth, good, beauty, causality, etc. It is a movement, which doesn’t reveal itself as a foundation and in which nihilism reveals itself as that which it is not. Nihilism is equal to the historical deployment of metaphysics in the sense that is a presentation of that which it is not. It is a nugatory force of that which is produced positively. Metaphysics reveals itself in Nihilism in that which hides, intrinsic of its history. The essence of nihilism can be separated in two structures 1) nihilism that shows the real nature of ideas, 2) nihilism, which sees the history of metaphysics as an invention of signification, concepts and ideas. The latter is the complete nihilism. Heidegger speaking of the “visions of the world” refers to the epochs of the history of metaphysics, which are in the same time different levels of nihilism. For him this nihilism is the product of the negation of what remains unthought-of in the history of metaphysics that is the question of Being. It was not only unthought-of but also negated by what it was thought in the sense that by not thinking of it was necessarily misinterpreted by what was thought.

About the “different levels of nihilism” it should be said that it means a progressive discovery of the negation, which is proper to it. That is due to internal decomposition of “values.” It is an incessant replacement of some fictions with others. For Nietzsche, History is a continuous change of appearances, which are based on no-thing that is on that which is different that it appears. History it is not at all a progressive movement based on the accumulation of rationalistic values but a decomposition of what was from the beginning a fiction. “The last remnants of God on Earth” is the “super-man” who “annihilates” the false hope of what is fictitious.  In its achievement nihilism is both and in the same times the revelation of the history of metaphysics as nihilism and the opening of the question of Being.

The Will-unto-Power determines a self liberation of itself towards a space where the humanity will not be dominated by its false ideals. It is a place where the freedom of the deployment of the plurality of forces it is unbridled by any schematic desiderates. This kind of dynamic is against any understanding which presupposes a predetermined end. The word “God is dead” before to be used by Nietzsche was coined by Hegel in its Phenomenology of Spirit in Chapter VI, Revealed religion. For Hegel the death of God means the death of the abstraction of the concept of God, the death of God as an external and transcendental manifestation, which is negated by the dynamic of the birth of the Son of God, who is internal to the human actuality. For Hegel God becoming human marks the moment of death. It is the death of a mode of God not of any possibility of him. For Nietzsche the death of God is contained in the process of thinking itself, it is a part of this movement, which is an impossibility of expressing something which is not thought-of. God is the embodiment of a fiction and it is too much to say that “God is dead” because for Nietzsche, God never existed as a name standing for something real, that is for Life. God was never Life, consequently existence, but an ideal which doesn’t represent anything, meaning a no-thing.

As impressive as it is, through its metaphorical power, the formula “God is dead” is incorrect, on my view, even in Nietzsche’s philosophical framework, because for Nietzsche’s God is not equated with Life. I can agree with him that a God who is not Life is a fiction and the history of metaphysics, trying to pinpoint God, in a conceptual structure, which necessarily is limited, killed unwillingly the life of God. Looking to the human nature and the world, Nietzsche didn’t see anywhere the presence of something who could be equated with God, because good and moral beauty, are only ideals, not intrinsic characteristics of man and his world. In the same time the refusal to recognize the openness of humanity towards ideals, which are in a sense foreign to its nature, means the enclose-ness of the Will-unto-Power in itself in a way which cast the human nature in futility refusing it any contemplation of itself and any possibility of detachment from its own biological determinations. The negation of the dynamic of plurality and diversity of forces which compete in an indeterminate way it is not to be replaced by ideals which don’t have any foundation in man but this internal movement should be assumed. In the same time if Nietzsche is right, trying to bring his ideas further, the ideals could have an origin not only in an unthought-of dynamic but also in a rejection of what was thought but found out unacceptable. The moral judgement is rejected as the supreme instance of rationality but in fact it could be understood not only as the product of an arbitrary and unconnected intellectualism but also as an expression of the need for survival so as the need of Life onto gaining its power. “Do not kill” it is not only a moral desiderate but manly an expression of Life protecting itself so it should be thought as internal to the Will-unto-Power and not only to the idea of good, which is characterized as a fictitious value. “Good” was not created as a figment of imagination but as the result of the need of Life for more protection and power. The concepts of good, identity or causation can be seen as ideas and ideals without reference to Life or as the manifestation of diverse possibilities of Life itself and that depending on which degree of intelligibility is attached to the complexity of the movements in question. The separation between the moral values and the dynamic of Life itself, based on the Platonic construction, looks rather artificial and doesn’t answer to a more basic question: what is the reason, which determined the mental opposition between the sensible world and the ideas? Is it only an unawareness of the complexity and multiplicity of the dynamic of Life or more than that?

For Nietzsche, nevertheless, the death of God needed to be radical a point from where any recognition it is impossible. Opposite to Hegel, who sees the death of God as a sacrifice of his abstraction in order to re-take a new position more effective and concrete, for Nietzsche humanity killed God and did that without understanding the consequences of such an act. In the dialectical way of comprehending, so specific for the history of metaphysics and particularly for Hegel, it is impossible to understand the dimensions of this deed. The ideal of God was the protector of humanity from the depths of nihilism and by killing these ideal humans destroyed the possibility of ideals as such. The question of why this happened can only partially be posed and this partial answer is super-man, who is an inherent movement in man. The nihilism is the very essence of man, that from which he can’t escape and the super-man is an event of futurity in man in the very profound sense that, in Deleuze conception, it is revealed in him the annihilation of the question of Being itself. With other words the question of Being is never reduced to the history of metaphysics because it was unthought-of by this very history. In the same time this history of metaphysics in thinking being has missed the question of Being living open a space for that which is not thought-of and accordingly it is not at all to be found in this place.

  Chapter 2 Heidegger essay: Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”

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  In order to appreciate the Heidegger’s Nietzsche-interpretation is important to start with the essay entitled, “Nietzsche’s Word ‘God is dead.” Heidegger appreciated that for Nietzsche God is the God of Christianity, but interpreted in a non-Christian way. God determines, as a symbol, the ideas and ideals, the earthly world from above and from outside. According with the Platonic tradition the real world is that of the ideas, represented by God, and the changeable world of sensible entities is only an apparent one. The world of sensible realities, taken in the broad sense of Kant, is the “physical world” and consequently the world of ideas or ideals is one of metaphysics, which is of the “supra-physics” and for Nietzsche the latter was represented by God. To say that God is dead equal to saying that the metaphysical world is dead in the sense that it doesn’t offer any more the foundation for a new hope. The metaphysics as such it comes to mean nothing at all and this nothingness is in fact nihilism. According to Heidegger, the formula “God is dead” is nothing more nothing less than the realization of a real occurrence, a striking expression of a fact.

To come back to the original text of Heidegger essay; “Nietzsche’s Word: God is dead” several observations must be made. Heidegger considered that Nietzsche represented a stage of Western metaphysics that is, as it seems, its final stage. No essential possibilities have remained for metaphysics, after Nietzsche. The super-sensory is a product of the sensory and by denying it, as its antithesis, the sensory negate its own essence.  The dismissal of the super-sensory effaced also the distinction between sensory and non-sensory. In each phase of the history of metaphysics the destiny of Being tailored its way over the beings “in abrupt epochs of truth;[11] As Heidegger puts it, for Nietzsche, thinking means: to represent beings as beings. For Heidegger all metaphysical thinking is [12]onto-logy or is nothing at all.[13]

In his essay Heidegger states it from the preparatory stage:

“The following commentary, in its intention and consequence, keeps to the area of the one experience out of which Being and Time is thought. This thinking has been concerned constantly with one occurrence: that in the history of western thinking, right from the beginning, beings have been thought in regard to Being, but the truth of Being has remained unthought. Indeed, not only has the truth of Being been denied to thinking as a possible experience, but Western thinking itself (precisely in the form of metaphysics) has specifically, though unknowingly, masked the occurrence of this denial.”

I took the liberty to reproduce this passage because it expresses very well the starting point of Heidegger thinking both in Being and Time and in his whole work. In the above named essay Heidegger take also the opportunity to observe that Nietzsche sees himself as a thinker under the sign of nihilism. In any case Heidegger prevents the Nietzsche’s reader to take the word of Nietzsche: “God is dead” too hastily but to focus on analyzing it as it was intended. As a young man Nietzsche was familiar to the idea of death of God. He declared in “The Birth of Tragedy” (1870) “I believe in the ancient German saying: all gods must die.” Heidegger maintains that between Hegel, who said that the “feeling on which the religion of the modern age rests – the feeling that God Himself is dead…,” and Nietzsche conception “there is an essential connection that conceals itself in the essence of all metaphysics.”[14]

Heidegger made it clear that in speaking about the dead of God Nietzsche, referred to the Christian God but in the same time to the “super-sensory world in general.”[15] As I said earlier Heidegger point out that for Nietzsche “God is the name for the realm of ideas and the ideal.”[16] From Plato and from the Platonic interpretation given by the latte Greek philosophy and Christian thinking the sensory world is the physical world and the super-sensory one the metaphysical world. As Heidegger shows; “God is dead means: the super-sensory world has no effective power.”[17] What that means? Was the super-sensible world not relevant any more?

Nevertheless, critics of Platonism existed before Nietzsche and one of the most prolific of them was Aristotle. It is strange to reduce the history of metaphysics to only one of its roots and to neglect the others. Even in the history of metaphysics there were thinkers who embraced more the Aristotle’s conception than the Plato’s one, or a combination of both of them, without granting any reality at all to the super-sensible world. Few people and perhaps not even Plato took seriously the possibility of the existence, in a factual way, of the world of Ideas but this allegory was used more as a theoretical tool, in order to demonstrate the connection between the universal concepts and the real things. What I want to say is that the concepts are and remain an indispensable tool for thinking even if we are pure realists or materialists and that, independent of any religiosity. In some Eastern civilizations this rapport between conceptuality and reality still remains without any relation to a God. Nietzsche connected the two but this connection doesn’t look like a “necessary” link. Not being a necessity it is more like a demonstration by analogy with many flows due to the analogy itself. The problem is that Plato’s philosophy was assimilated by Christianity and the realm of Ideas, just another myth, as was the myth of the cave, was transformed in a seemingly reality. In this way a pure didactic and schematic learning methodology, served by Plato, become the explanation for the nature of God. Something very human was sealed with divine authority by the Church.

Nietzsche understood his own philosophy as the countermovement against metaphysics and mainly against Platonism. But Heidegger observed that Nietzsche necessarily remains trapped particularly because any “anti” – is bound to the essence of what is challenging. The Nietzsche’ movement against metaphysics remained “embroiled” in it without any way out. More over, it was blind to the real essence of metaphysics and to what really happens in it. If God is dead, in the sense that the super-sensory power lost any influence the conclusion would be that is nothing left for man to orient him. In this way nihilism is standing at the door.

Nihilism is a historical movement and not just a view or doctrine held by anyone. It is the fundamental movement of the history of the West. In order to understand the relation between nihilism and Christianity it must be said that for Nietzsche Christianity is the historical, secular-political phenomenon of the Church and its claim to power within the formation of Western humanity and its modern culture.[18] It is not about the Christian life as recommended by the gospels but about the imposition of power and authority by a religious institution. A confrontation with Christianity doesn’t mean an absolute negation of the life of Christianity but a denial of the official, institutionalized, Christian values pressed by the religious organization on society. This is important because one can understand that, in fact, Nietzsche didn’t analyze the internal dynamic of the life which is conveyed by the Christian principles, but the impact of constructed values pressed on society by political and religious reasons. It is probably possible for one to be a person of faith and in the same time to agree with Nietzsche, to a point, about the fact that the kind of Christianity promoted by the official organizations of the Church had failed somehow to represent the life of God. The reason can be the separation, initiated by Plato in the metaphysical tradition, between the supra-sensible world of ideas, considered the real one, and the disgust thrown upon the sensory world, which in a sense was appreciated as being inferior because was not real, than not truth.

This discrimination of the sensible manifestations of life had an effect on reality and reduced God to a mere abstraction, in this way obstructing the life or the Being of the possible Being, who was only  named by the concept. The history of metaphysic or the theology never tried to find out what is the Being of God, what is the relation between Being and God or what we name when we utter the word God. Is there any reality, or life or dynamic behind that word? Is God an entity or not? If it is not an entity what is He? Reducing God to a set of concepts or ideals Christianity, with the help of the Greek philosophy, killed Him.

As Heidegger noticed “In ‘God is dead’ the name ‘God,’ thought essentially, stands for the super-sensory world of ideals that contains the goal that exists beyond the earthly life for this life; they determine it thus from above and so in certain respects from without.”[19] If theology was forced, as Heidegger maintained, to the role of explaining the beings in their entirety it surely avoided the question of the Being of beings. The place of Church dissolved authority was taken by the authority of conscience and of the reason. The withdrawal from the world into the super-sensory was replaced by the historical progress and instead of the promises of an eternal bliss in the hereafter many people, not all, have chosen an earthly happiness. God is not any more the only Creator because humankind entered itself more and more in a process of creating its own world. What will happen when the hierarchical order of beings, adopted from the Hellenistic-Judaic world will be replaced with something else? What else can be put in place?

Nihilism was not determined by unbelief, in the sense of apostasy, it is not a subjective attitude but is an effect of the misunderstandings due to metaphysics, concerning the question of Being and the relationship with beings; “rather, it is always only a consequence of nihilism: for it could be that Christianity itself represents a consequence and a form of nihilism.”[20] Because the essential ground of nihilism resides in metaphysics itself there is a danger for effects to be taken as causes. Heidegger considers that any analyzes of the social or spiritual life will be fruitless until the place for the essence of man and the experiencing of the truth of being will be clarified.

Nietzsche short answer for the question: “what does nihilism mean?” is “That the highest values devalue themselves.”[21] Which are they? It is usually understood that they are truth, goodness and beauty. But the highest values really loose their importance, as Heidegger puts it, when one understands that the ideal world can’t be realized within the real world.

Heidegger maintains that for Nietzsche this type of nihilism it is not an event amongst others but it is a trend of the history of metaphysics starting with Plato. Metaphysics is an interpretation of beings in their being-ness. Nietzsche noticed that the main stream of interpretation of beings, in his time, is based on values that are without value so it is value-less. He maintained that there is not any correspondence between the world of ideals and supreme values, represented by God and the real human experience. [22] Starting with the inspiration granted by the work of Schopenhauer, with his “pessimism of weakness” and “pessimism of strength” Nietzsche himself practice a negative and a positive nihilism. The first one focused on a de-valuation of all traditional values and on this basis a rejection of them and the second one is based on possible new interpretation of beings in their Being with the aim of overcoming this crisis. Nevertheless the devaluation can be overcome only by re-evaluation and not just by a replacing of some values with others. First of all a new system of values was needed and the source of them cannot be any more the lifeless supra-sensible world but the Life itself. Even if Nietzsche reclaims the field of metaphysics on the basis of a Life-force principle, his nihilism remains as such in spite of its highest status. Heidegger argues that it fails in its claims because it remains metaphysics. He sees all metaphysics as nihilism. This kind of nihilism is based on the fact that the revelation of Being as truth means nothing as far as the Being of that Being itself does not have any meaning. In fact, the truth of beings counts as Being, because the truth of Being is not understood. This is the reason why metaphysics is nihilism, which is a forgetfulness of Being. [23]

The only way to overcome such nihilism is to pass beyond metaphysics and to approach the Being-process itself. But Nietzsche cannot do that because he remains within the borders of metaphysics. If God of the Christian faith left the place empty other lesser gods rushed themselves to occupy it; doctrines of world happiness, socialism or Wagner’s music, “everywhere that ‘dogmatic Christianity’ has gone bankrupt.” This is an incomplete nihilism and doesn’t sort out the difficulty, because it is impossible to escape nihilism without revaluing the former values.[24] The incomplete nihilism errs by the fact that is placing the new values in the place of the old ones, which is the domain of super-sensory and a complete nihilism will wipe out entirely this area, of the supra-sensible. It is a new re-evaluation of values, which calls for another region. Instead of the world of super-sensory the re-evaluation of all values should be based on life. The philosophy of Nietzsche is one of the values and with him the notion of value became more popular in the modern philosophy and culture. Heidegger noted that the theories of value became a substitute for metaphysics. But for him value, if it is something, ought to have its essence in Being.

Beside what I already remarked about what values are, as seen by Nietzsche, I should add only another few things. The essence of the value is that it is a viewpoint, which is always posited by a seeing and for a seeing. Valid value is something which is posited as what matters. To see is “to see with the mind” or to represent. There is a “nisus,” which is an urge for the beings to make an appearance, and this is a part of the Being of beings. This “nisus” determines the occurrence of each and every thing. This “nisus” like-essence is the one, which determines for itself a certain posture of presentation, a point of sight. This point of sight gives the necessary perspectives, which have to be followed. This point of sight is value.[25]

Will to Power, becoming, life and being for Nietzsche stands for the same meaning. Nietzsche posits the becoming, the Will to Power as that which establishes the points of view, mentioned above. The Will to Power is the ground for the dispensation of value and for the possibility of value-estimation.[26] For Heidegger, the Nietzsche’s attempt for overcoming metaphysics is just a self-blinding because is doing the same thing done by metaphysics. In Nietzsche’s interpretation nihilism derives from the rule of values and from the possibility to posit values but this possibility is based on the Will to Power. Heidegger postulated that Nietzsche’s concept of nihilism and his statement “God is dead” can only be understood correctly through the essence of the Will to Power.[27]

Haw would Heidegger answering to the observation made by me that Christianity is life because is love? He would have said that no longer does the super-sensory world inspire and sustain life. That world is dead. The love, which was announced for that world is not an effective principle and doesn’t explain what takes place now.[28] The effective reality of everything real is considered by Heidegger to be thought and also it is the super-sensory ground of the super-sensory world, which becomes unreal. “This is the metaphysical sense of the metaphysically thought word “God is dead.”[29] Heidegger could agree with my opinion that the question of the reality of God was never thought seriously, in a metaphysical way when he said: “God ceases to be a living God if in our continuing attempts to master the real we fail to take his reality seriously beforehand and question it…”[30] Neither man or the super-man can’t take the place of God.

Heidegger asks: “What is going on with being in the age when mastery begins to be exercised by the unconditional will to power? Being has become value.”[31] This is a high status for Being and a proof of esteem. Nevertheless, by becoming value, Being is transformed in a mere condition of the Will to Power itself and in this fashion is robed by its very essence. In such metaphysics the experience of Being itself, the exposition to the truth of Being, is obliterated. This thought was for Heidegger an indication that, matter of fact, was never in actuality a thinking about Being as Being. The Western thinking has always thought about beings using only the word being as a unity of beings but without real preoccupation about it. As Heidegger noticed “Being is not permitted as Being.” Nietzsche raised the value-thinking to a principle in the attempt to overcome nihilism. As already said, values does not allow Being be Being and for this reason a theory of value, in Nietzsche’s view, it is by no means a overcoming of nihilism but a completion of it. The kind of disguising practiced by Nietzsche, toward Being, is more sophisticated because Being is seen as being value, than being valuable, but in fact the obtrusion of the Being of Being is there. Elevating God to the highest value is in fact a reduction of God, who is considered real, because his Being is not thought. In other words, being considered a value, God comes only secondary to Being, the latest, as an example, with Nietzsche, is the Will to Power. For Heidegger this thinking “is absolute blasphemy when it is mixed into the theology of the faith.” Is man ever been capable of killing God? Nietzsche himself was surprised by this thought. He used three metaphorical images: the drink of the sea, the wipe of the entire horizon away, to unchain this earth from the sun. Losing their super-sensory horizon beings have become objectified and were assimilated into the immanence of subjectivity. Because the horizon of light is no more there what remain are only the viewpoints and the presentation of values by the Will to Power. It is what Heidegger said from the beginning of his essay when he said that loosing the super-sensory realm the sensory world lost its essence. The three metaphors are used by Nietzsche, in Heidegger’s expression, in order to explain what is meant by the formula “God was killed” by man.  “This killing means the elimination, through man of the super-sensory world that has its Being in itself.” It is a modification in the Being of beings. The possibility of Man transformed itself also because he “eliminates beings in the sense of beings in themselves.” In other words beings are not more connected directly with the world of Ideas, which gave them their essence, their Being, through participation, but they become objects through the human uprising to subjectivity.

Heidegger observed that the cause of the neglect of being as Being is not Nietzsche’s philosophy of values, because even before Nietzsche, or before Plato metaphysics didn’t any serious step in that direction. “The history of Being begins – necessarily begins – with the forgotten-ness of Being.” The essence of nihilism is found in history and Nietzsche came to know some characteristics of nihilism but interpreted them nihilistically and never identified the essence of it. Because Being doesn’t come to the light of its own essence the truth of Being remains forgotten. Being remains unthought-of and that is because it removes itself into its truth.


Chapter 3 “Truth” for Nietzsche and Heidegger

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 Nietzsche maintained that humans don’t desire truth for the truth sake. One of his aphorisms says: “The ‘will to truth’ develops itself in the service of the ‘will to power’.” [32] In his aphorisms Nietzsche question the value of truth. For him truth is separated from good and beautiful and depicted in dark colours as something which doesn’t serve humans survival. In any case humanity doesn’t aim for the truth but only for power. Even if one considers that the possession of truth is a mean to acquire power, as far as anyone still respect the value of truth, this thesis doesn’t question Nietzsche’s ideas about truth. Nietzsche doesn’t deny the ‘will to truth’ but this kind of will is entirely subordinated to the ‘will to power’. In the end what people seek is not the truth but a falsification. As he explained, in his aphorisms, the task of the ‘will to truth’ is “to assist a certain kind of untruth to victory and endurance, to make a coherent mass of falsifications into the basis for the preservation of a particular kind of living creature.”[33]  Man wants to create a stable picture of the world in view of realizing a platform for his actions. This is a perspective, which is never truth but is subordinated to the ‘will to power.’ These are ‘perspectival falsifications,’ necessary for human survival. Nietzsche says: “synthetic judgements a priory should not be possible at all: we have no right to them, in our mouths they are nothing but false judgements. But belief in their truth is, of course, necessary as foreground belief and ocular evidence belonging to the perspective optics of life.[34] For Nietzsche perspectives come about on the basis of who one is and are interpretations helping people to face the world. For Nietzsche each perspective is a false truth. One has to have o look on what Nietzsche understands by “the truth.” For him is may be more accurate to affirm that there is not truth.

“There are many kind of eyes. Even the sphinx has eyes – and consequently there are many kinds of “truth,” and consequently there is no truth.”

Henceforth, my dear philosophers let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a ‘pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject’; let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as ‘pure reason,’ ‘absolute spirituality,’ ‘knowledge in itself’: these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; …There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective ‘knowing’;…But to eliminate the will altogether, to suspend each and every affect, supposing we were capable of this – what would that mean but to castrate the intellect?”[35]

In Nietzsche’s optic there could not be an absolute truth because there are many individual perspectives, which determine each of them, a specific truth. None is the possessor of truth in an objectified way, and everyone can have a perspective about the world, which necessarily falsifies the reality. The individual perspectives are brought about by the whole body and are not promoted by a desire to know the truth, for its own sake, but are caused by the Will-unto-Power. We know things in a way, which is useful for our survival and accumulation of power and are blind to those, which can endanger these possibilities. So to speak we are blind to everything, which tries to shows us things, which are undermining our natural drive towards more power. Some truth can be destructive for us and instinctively we avoid it.

The traditional understanding of truth is based on the idea of correspondence between our knowledge about reality and the sensible world itself. Nietzsche contradicts this conception and maintains that we can’t achieve knowledge of the truth as correspondence to the world.[36] He obviously rejects the Plato’s super-sensible realm of Ideas and the Kantian thing-in-themselves as the proper domain of reality, as the true world. Even the designation “apparent world” doesn’t make any sense for to be an “apparent world,” firstly it must be a real world, which it is not the case. For Nietzsche a thing is the sum of its effects.

“The properties of a thing are effects on other ‘things;’ if one removes other ‘things,’ then a thing has no properties, i.e., there is no ‘thing-in-itself.’   

   The ‘thing-in-itself’ non sensical. If I remove all the relationships, all the ‘properties,’ all the ‘activities’ of a thing, the thing does not remain over; because thingness has only been invented by us owing to the requirements of logic, thus with the aim of defining, communication (to bind together the multiplicity of relationships, properties, activities).

‘Things that have a constitution in themselves’ – a dogmatic idea with which one must break absolutely.”[37]

A thing is a power-quantum or a power-constellation and it doesn’t have individuality in itself. In the same time the universe can’t be thought as one organism and for this reason can’t be understood as having in itself the totality of all perspectives. Accordingly, an organism needs exteriority, from which comes its nutrients, and because that can’t contain “the truth” in itself. For Nietzsche truth and God are related in the sense that the first one, if it were to be a fact, it should be the perspective of God, but there isn’t such a possibility of a truth poses by some-thing. “The death of God” and the impossibility of truth are the symptoms of the same developments. The “truth” should be the attribute of an organism only if this one gathers all possible perspectives of all times within itself.  In fact, the “truth” is replaced with the “truths” belonging to the organisms which hold them. All this kind of truths is false perspectives, a way of interpreting the world, a basis for the action of various organisms. The “truth” could only be reached, as a reflection of a unity and constancy which in reality never happens.

After these few observations about the way in which the Nietzsche’s metaphysics will allow us to speak about truth I should try to present, as much as this opportunity permits, about Heidegger’s approach of truth. It must be said from the beginning that for Heidegger the problem of truth is inseparably connected with what is meant by “Being.” Before to go any further it is important to speak a little bit about few fundamental things for Heidegger thought as presented in his essay: “On the Essence of Truth.” In C.1. section 2 Heidegger approach the question: how is an “agreement” between a proposition, based on a representation, and the thing which is “represented” possible? While he presents his view he explains two philosophical terms: “Vorstellen” (representation; letting something stand in front of oneself) and “Gegenstand” (object; a thing standing opposite to oneself). More precisely “representation” means: “letting a thing stand opposite to oneself as an object.”

To represent a thing in the mind consists in letting that thing to “come” to that particular perception. As Heidegger maintained, the thing “traverses” an “overtness” towards oneself. This kind of “overtness” belongs to a “realm of relations” of its own. This “openness” makes possible all human activities and all his dealings with other things or with his fellow-men.[38] A craftsman has, from the beginning, the object, which he or she wants to realize in his or her mind. This kind of “openness” was as an event happening in the early history of mankind when the “realm of beings” opened to man whereas it had been closed before. This “openness” is considered to be the permanent and indispensable condition for all human civilization and specifically for all propositional truth. Only if man is together with things, in “overtness” is an approximation between a thing and a statement possible at all.[39]

To have a better understanding of what this “overtness” means for Heidegger two other things should be accounted for, which is “truth” as an uncovering of what is  and “ex-sistence” as an “ex-position” into such an “un-covering.” Heidegger sustained the need of re-interpretation of truth in the sense of the original Greek concept of it. In English there are two words, which refer to this deployment of meaning namely discovery and revelation. Both terms are an expression or continuation of what is expressed in the Greek word and has a positive meaning; between themselves, discovery and revelation, there are nuances, important for our discussion.  “Dis-covery” means to separate and take off a cover from a thing underneath but in “re-velation” the “cover” is understood to be more closely connected with the thing which is covered. In” re-velation” the veil is looked at more as a obscuring of sight and more transparent than a cover. “Re-velations” happens usually at once and are not the outcome of a work or process similar to the one happening in science. There are not other words in English able to cover the whole possibilities for the understanding of truth. The Greek word used by Aristotle in the “Nicomachean Etics” Book VI showed five ways in which the soul is in truth.[40] The term used by Aristotle means an “uncovering” of the things as they are but not in the way science or religion is using it. For Heidegger all things were shrouded in a initial mystery, a veil, which covered them, and all discoveries that are made are carried on against this background. This background should be remembered because it is inseparably linked to the “truth.” Only when the first tinker called latter philosopher set in motion the question: “what is all about?” the truth was experienced for the first time as a lifting up of the veil, which covered this “all.”[41] Consequently, the first stage was the process of questioning itself and, in order for the “veil” to be lifted, the right question have to be asked. This was the most important moment in the development of human race. Notably, this question was a philosophical one: “what is all that is?” because philosophy occupies itself with the understanding of reality in its most general aspects. But to ask this question is to question in direction of Being, which is not an entity but is responsible for all that is. For Heidegger philosophy is the cornerstone of the human civilization and finally the power of thought, which poses the question of Being, is the essence of Being itself. To question continuously in direction of Being is in itself the most important determination of it.

Heidegger re-introduced the concept of “Existence” but gave it a new understanding. It is not any more just mere existence in the sense of a thing which can be found in a certain place at a certain moment, nor “Existence” with the meaning attributed by Kierkegaard and encountered in the modern thinking: “the ethical endeavour of man, based upon his bodily and inner constitution, on behalf of his self.” For Heidegger “Ex-sistence” means an “ex-position” of the thinker. [42] He or she found him or her outside of the realm of concealment. Only from this position he or she can ask the question pertaining to the all embracing reality. The “ex-position” is a sort of transcendence from the every-day-ness of human beings but not an extraction from it. It is more like an “ecstasy,” but with no mystical connotations. All this happens inside Dasein which is the place for this process. This kind of “ex-position” into the uncovered propels the thinker to reflect to what is inside all beings in the world and what determines them to be as they are. To be concerned with things such as they are is in fact the “truth” and that is more than information gained by knowledge either scientific or scholarly. Only when man took and treat the things as what they are the world open up to him. Truth, which is the uncovering of “what is,” means first and foremost to live things-to-be what they are and not the accord between a proposition and a thing or a fact. Truth is related to the whole “overtness,” which was created when for the first time man asked: “what is all that is?” That line of questioning created the only possibility for the understanding of the beings in their Being and in their truth. In order to be able to grasp the Being of beings they have to-be-let to be what they are and to “come” to man in the “opening” created by the questioning in direction of Being. Man experiences himself also as a being open to himself, in being there, in the midst of other beings. This openness of man in direction of Being of beings is an opening of himself to himself, which becomes a possibility only when man realizes the full significance of being there in the midst of other beings. Man is not Da-sein by his nature but he enters into it trough his “ex-sistence.”[43]

In my view I see a connection between Nietzsche and Heidegger in the sense that both of them understand truth based on the web of relations, which condition the possibility of any action and knowledge. For Heidegger as for Nietzsche truth is not the approximation between sensible reality and concepts but the openness towards the reality as it is. The Nietzsche’s falsifying perspectives are determined by the particularity of any individual experience. For Heidegger, being there, in the world, in the every-day-ness of human life means also the “letting-be” of things, which, similar to Nietzsche’s ideas, excludes the imposition of arbitrary theoretical concepts upon reality. If for Nietzsche there is not acceptable truth this is because the question of Being still remains obliterated in his metaphysics. He tries to find a foundation for entities, which in a way explain how the beings work and become but not what they are. Nietzsche didn’t pose the fundamental question: “what is all that is?” but he tried to answer to another question: “how, all that it is, is related within itself, deploys itself and become what it is?” For Nietzsche and for Heidegger the reality can be understood by a dynamic never fulfilled in itself never achieved as such but always supplementing itself through an excess feed from itself. The Will-unto-Power and the thinking Thought are not to be understood in a teleological manner; there is not finality or predetermined end towards which they push themselves. Nevertheless, in a different way both Nietzsche and Heidegger rejects the understanding of the traditional metaphysics about truth.

Heidegger, in his essay mentioned above, stated that truth is interpreted as the uncovering of the things that are within the “whole.” What is the “whole”? This implies the multitude of relationships of human Dasein with the things existing in the world. It also contains the plurality of connections of the things one with the others and a possible hierarchy among beings.  The relationship of human Dasein with beings doesn’t cover the entire complexity of these connections. For Heidegger if there is truth at all, is necessarily related to the whole. Truth can’t be without the whole or outside it.[44] Famously, Hegel said that “the true is the whole.” This is a conviction, which can be traced in the conceptions of many great philosophers in the European tradition. But what is the whole for Nietzsche? For him there is not absolute, God’s eye and a standpoint from which one can survey everything that is.

Heidegger constantly underlined the idea that truth is the exposition of human life to the “overtness” of the entities that surrounds him “in the whole.” The relationships of the human Dasein to the things that are “in the whole” are tuned by a certain “mood”, which somehow reveals the things “within the whole” to man. This “mood” is a basic but important link of man with all other beings and creates a tuning atmosphere, a kind of harmony given by the drive towards the truth. This “within the whole” is what is tuning everything.


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Heidegger understood phenomenology in a way that departed from the Huserlian way of analyses of consciousness. For him phenomenologies become a method of philosophy understood as ontology.  All the assertions of ontology are considered by him to be a priory and have to do with Being rather than with beings. Before the encounter with beings, Being must be understood. Heidegger had a unique conception about the way in which time functions as the source of a priory.[45]

The basic problem of ontology is the meaning of Being in general. Being shows its own directions, it has its own structure and it itself distinguished from beings. In order to understand beings and have a suitable comportment towards them we have, in our Being, to encounter them in their Being. Ontology is a pre-understanding of beings in their Being. According with “Basic Problems of Phenomenology” Being determines itself in four ways. 1) It differentiates itself from beings and that give the ontological difference.[46] 2) Being, as distinguished from all beings, articulates into a what and a way-of-Being. 3) There are different ways or modes of Being. 4) There is a mystery of the connection between Being and truth. This short summary in connection with Being suffice just to see the radical difference between Nietzsche’s way of seeing metaphysics and Heidegger approach to it.

 Is Heidegger the end of a path in philosophy, which culminates with the understanding of Being? While acknowledging the importance of aletheia for radicalizing the notion of truth, Derrida establishes some distance from Heidegger. Derrida argues that Heidegger’s negation of metaphysics does not succeed to overcome or destroy metaphysics, remain bound to the ontological structure and vocabulary of metaphysics. He asserts that non-metaphysics or a reversal of metaphysics remains a form of metaphysics and there is not in fact any difference with metaphysics. Derrida argues that a simple negation of metaphysics remains a repetition of it. For Derrida, the origin of metaphysics is located in difference.  Derrida said that both for Husserl and Heidegger, their thought is enabled by the fact that difference grounds the possibility of structurality and structure.  Derrida shows how Husserl and Heidegger placed the origin of metaphysics in a non-origin but they failed to recognize difference as the meta-condition that enables the very structure of their philosophy. For Derrida truth is constituted by difference, the aporia between the representational and the post-representational and is implicated in both.[47] To grasp the truth implicates the understanding of its impossibility. Truth is the space between the transcendental and the empirical.

Derrida substitutes the anteriority of a trace for the “presence of logos” but he argued that he doesn’t replace Heidegger’s ontology of Being with an ontology of ground.  He is more interested in the tracing the conditions of Heidegger ontology. Derrida is not critical of this repetition of metaphysics but he argues that this kind of thought doesn’t realize what Heidegger intentioned to do, which was to overcome metaphysics.

Bibliography and footnotes

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Martin Heidegger The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, 1982 by Indian University Press
William J. Richardson, S.J Heidegger Through Phenomenology to Thought, 1963 by Martinus Nijkoff
Martin Heidegger Existence and Being, by Vision Press ltd
Martin Heidegger Off the Beaten Track, Cambridge University press 2002
Stefan Lorenz Sorgner Metaphysics without Truth, 2007 Markuette University Press
Gilles Deleuse Nietzsche and Philosophy, Press Universitaire de France 1962
PHIL 30190 Class notes for the course Nietzsche and Heidegger

[1] Gilles Deleuse…Nietzsche and Philosophy…page 98

[2] Gilles Deleuse…Nietzsche and Philosophy…page 99

[3] Gilles Deleuse…Nietzsche and Philosophy…page 99

[4] Gilles Deleuse…Nietzsche and Philosophy…page 99

[5] Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 365

[6] Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 366

[7] Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 369

[8] Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 376

[9] Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 379

[10] Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 380

[11] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 157

[12] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 159

[13] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 158

[14]Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 161

[15] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 162

[16] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 162

[17] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 162

[18] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 164

[19] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 165

[20] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 165

[21] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 166

[22] Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 362

[23] Heidegger Through Phenomenology to thought by William J. Richardson, S.J. page 363

[24] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 169

[25] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 171

[26] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 172

[27]Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 173

[28] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 189

[29] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 190

[30] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 190

[31] Martin Heidegger…Off the Beaten Track…Nietzsche’s word: “God is dead”…page 192

[32] Metaphysics without truth…Stephan Lorenz Sorgner…page 86 

[33] Metaphysics without truth…Stephan Lorenz Sorgner…page 86

[34] Metaphysics without truth…Stephan Lorenz Sorgner…page 87

[35] Metaphysics without truth…Stephan Lorenz Sorgner…page 88

[36] Metaphysics without truth…Stephan Lorenz Sorgner…page 89

[37] Metaphysics without truth…Stephan Lorenz Sorgner…page 91

[38] Existence and Being…Martin Heidegger…With an introduction by Werner Brock Dr. Phil page 154

[39] Existence and Being…Martin Heidegger…With an introduction by Werner Brock Dr. Phil page 156

[40] Existence and Being…Martin Heidegger…With an introduction by Werner Brock Dr. Phil page 159

[41] Existence and Being…Martin Heidegger…With an introduction by Werner Brock Dr. Phil page 160

[42] Existence and Being…Martin Heidegger…With an introduction by Werner Brock Dr. Phil page 162

[43] Existence and Being…Martin Heidegger…With an introduction by Werner Brock Dr. Phil page 167

[44] Existence and Being…Martin Heidegger…With an introduction by Werner Brock Dr. Phil page 171

[45] Martin Heidegger..The Basic Problems of Phenomenology..xviii

[46] Martin Heidegger..The Basic Problems of Phenomenology…xviii



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