William A. B. Parkhurst
October 8, 2020
Based on a review of the literature and historical evidence, I argue that the use of the methodological principle known as the priority principle in Anglo-American Nietzsche scholarship is inconsistent and irreconcilable with historical evidence. It attempts to demarcate between the published works and the Nachlass . However, there are no agreed upon necessary and sufficient conditions of a particular textual object being considered “ Nachlass .” This absence leads to implicit and often tacit value demarcation criteria that can be broadly grouped into four types of consideration: publication, authorization, publicness, and audience. Each of these criteria pick out a different set of texts as “ Nachlass .” Thus, despite the veneer of agreement, the most broadly accepted methodological approach in the Anglo-American tradition of Nietzsche scholarship is applied inconsistently. I argue that we must either offer necessary and sufficient conditions for a piece of text being Nachlass , or we ought to abandon such abstract criteria altogether and embrace a contextual and historical approach. I then argue that the first option is impossible given historical evidence. I conclude this article by explicating several recent German approaches to the Nachlass which I think can offer a new possible approach.