The topology of nihilism is an enquiry into its essence. The will to power has proved to be the essence of nihilism in its destructive prevalence. The place and the placement of this essence of nihilism have been shown to be the place of the prevailing will to power.


This essential place is however the set-up as the essence of modern technology and contemporary natural science. The essence of modern technology is that will to will which wants everything exclusively in the thoroughgoing and uniform availability of a standing reserve [Bestand], that is, that commands and ‘sets it up’ as such .


This availability means a mode of disclosure determined by the nullifying will to power, while the standing reserve names that mode of disclosure of beings which emanates from the will to power, in that the formerly regulative being what and how of beings is overpowered and destroyed. The nullifyingly destructive will to power is, as the essence of nihilism, the essence of modern technology. The will to power is the ‘unconditional unification of such a setting [Stellens]'(85). The unity (Ge) of the commanding setting (-Stell) is the set-up (Ge-stell).

The set-up is however the most recent mode of manifestation of en-own-ment, one in which the turning toward exhibits the basic trait of expropriation, so that human existence is expropriated out of the expropriating turning toward.


The set-up as the manifestation of the event of appropriation [Ereignis] is expropriation [Enteignis]. The ex-propriating turning toward says: the being of human being does not belong to the realm of the disclosive manifestation of being. Existence is expropriated to the extent that it does not belong to the disclosive manifestation of being.


The Ex-, attached to expropriation and expropriatedness, names the nihilistic withdrawal that takes place in en-own-ment. In conformity with the manifestation of expropriation, the disclosive manifestation of truth (or the illumination of being), as also the disclosive manifestation of the fourfold, are themselves also withdrawn. The nullifying overpowering of the world as that of the fourfold also negates the world-related being how and what of beings.

But even in and through the historical dominance of the Set-up ‘being+ is not extinguished (86). In the expropriation of the Set-up the enownment of the fourfold does not disappear but simply undergoes its most extreme withdrawal. But as soon as the Set-up is thoroughly experienced as the enownment of the fourfold, the enownment of the fourfold breaks through with a ‘peculiar kind of strangeness’. Within the dominant Set-up, the fourfold is experienced through its uttermost rejection. There belongs along with this experience the insight into the possibility of a historical overcoming of the Set-up and therewith also of nihilism in its ultimate culmination. If this overcoming is not just to be a turning away from the nihilistic essence of modern technology then it also has to be experienced and realised as a ‘recovery’ [Verwindung].


Recovery means here the very opposite of a turning away, namely, a returning toward. In the recovery, we wind ourselves around the essence of nihilism, we range around it and thereby ‘go along with whatever this essence itself calls for, insofar as it calls us into that realm within which it is raised into the fullness of its truth’.


That to which we are called by the essence of nihilism, by the nullifying will to power, the Set-up, is the disclosive manifestation of the lighting of being as the advent of the fourfold. Were we to reach just such a historical reversal in the Set-up through the advent of the fourfold, nihilism would have been overcome historically. The reversal of the Set-up in the self-appropriative fourfold would be the ‘new turning-toward of being’, with regard to which Ernst Jünger says that what really is then might begin to shimmer — a reality not of the reduction but of the fullness of the being how and what of being.