Mike raises the following question:
From Nz’s perspective, what was the world like before the death of God? The best answer I have at the moment is The Gay Science #84 the last paragraph. Maybe that’s *way* before the death of God though or maybe that’s basically what it is.
I don’t have GS handy, but I did come across an interesting and relevant notebook entry from 1887:
What advantages did the Christian morality hypothesis offer?
1. it conferred on man an absolute value, in contrast to his smallness and contingency in the flux of becoming and passing away
2. it served the advocates of God to the extent that, despite suffering and evil, it let the world have the character of perfection – including “freedom” – and evil appeared full of sense
3. it posited a knowledge of absolute values in man and thus gave him adequate knowledge of precisely the most important thing.
it prevented man from despising himself as man, from taking against life, from despairing of knowing: it was a means of preservation – in sum: morality was the great antidote against practical and theoretical nihilism.
[This is from Pearson’s and Large’s Nietzsche Reader, p. 385]
So I take it that, before the death of god, it felt like we were significant, and that was a good survival strategy for staving off despair and suicide. Now the question is whether we can live with the truth, and invent for ourselves some new survival strategy. In this same set of notes, Nz provides the eternal recurrence as such a strategy. He seems to think it’s better than accepting the plain old “you live, you die, that’s it” since that thought makes nothingness the “goal” of the universe, or at least becomes the universe’s prevalent theme. If nihilism is something to be fought against — and for Nietzsche, it was — we need a replacement for God.