The Undeath of God.
God is dead: If there is a more paradigmatic, concise, and ecstatic expression of nihilism it has yet to be uttered. God is dead: there are no transcendent values, no eternal grounding for our laws, nowhere and no one to appeal to in order to give the world meaning, purpose, reasons. In The Gay Science Nietzsche is unequivocal about what the consequences of this are: it is the collapse of ‘the whole of European morality’. The whole of European morality. The entire edifice of European values, and with it the grounds for such an enterprise. This is not simply the end of a moral system, it is the exhaustion of metaphysics. The Christian God, the God who is dead, is the God who is present everywhere, at all times, to all depths. This God who is present, this immanent God, really the Catholic God, is the God who has died. At other points Nietzsche will call Him the Moral God, a phrase that immediately draws up the image of Old Testament wrath, but must no less refer to the Incarnated God who stood on the mount and rebooted the Ten Commandments in that one simple command: love thy neighbour. We stand without foundations, without any exterior assurances, and in the cold shadow of the recession of presence. Among the philosophical inheritors of this death, among those who dwell on this death, and who attempt to make it shine, to be seen and heard as Nietzsche put it, is obviously Derrida. The Derridean deconstruction of this metaphysics of presence amounts to the idea that things (bodies, events, incorporeals like time and language) never fully disclose themselves, always remain shy about standing-forth, moving fully into the open, and presence remains divided from itself.
I am racing ahead. It is impossible not to race ahead. We must return to Nietzsche before tumbling forward. The famous scene in which the madman, running through the streets holding a lantern, first makes the untimely declaration: