Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Nachlass and "The Will to Power," once again

Mazzino Montinari, Bernd Magnus, and (maybe?) R.J. Hollingdale all raised important doubts about the canonical status of the Nachlass material in the 1970s and 1980s.  On the standard narrative,  it appears Nietzsche wanted much of this material destroyed, and it was only the intervention of others, independent of Nietzsche, that resulted in the material being saved for posterity.  More recently, Julian Young (in his 2010 biography:  539-542) confirmed and documented Nietzsche’s abandonment of a project organized under the rubric Will to Power in favor of one organized around the idea of a Revaluation of All Values.  

Unsurprisingly, commentators committed to the centrality of “will to power” to Nietzsche’s thought have tried to resist this evidence.  Paul Katsafanas, for example, admits in his 2013 book that “if Nietzsche consigned so many of his writings on will to power to the wastebasket, he can hardly have regarded those notes as important,” but then claimed, surprisingly, that this “story [the familiar narrative] is apocryphal” (2013:  248), relying only on Hollingdale, whom Katsafanas reports says Nietzsche was only discarding the “page proofs of Twilight of the Idols” (2013:  248). 

It appears, however, Katsafanas did not consult the original German source for the story, namely, Carl Albrecht Bernoulli’s Franz Overbeck und Friedrich Nietzsche:  Eine Freundschaft (1908).  The text is a bit hard to decipher, given the font, but it does appear that Bernoulli, a student of Overbeck’s, reported that when Nietzsche left his flat in Sils Maria in September of 1888, he instructed his landlord Herr Durisch to “burn” his papers and notebooks, though the landlord disregarded the instructions (1908:  301).  Nietzsche left for Turin a couple of weeks later, and suffered his final mental collapse in early January of 1889.   Bernoulli does not specify the exact contents of the voluminous material Nietzsche asked to be destroyed, but Young reports that “many” of the “693 fragments” that Nietzsche’s sister put into the posthumous Will to Power “had in fact been consigned to Nietzsche’s wastepaper basket in Sils, from which, for unknown reasons, Durisch retrieved them” (Young 2010:  628 n. 9).  Thus, it appears a version of the standard narrative is correct:   much of what we have in the book known as The Will to Power—including its famous concluding section about will to power (as Montinari specifically documented)—represent work Nietzsche had rejected.


Paul Katsafanas said...

Brian, I think your reading comprehension could use some work. Your claim that I rely only on Hollingdale is demonstrably false (I discuss all the materials that you mention in this post), and in fact Hollingdale claims the opposite of what you attribute to him.

In my book, I note that (1) Hollingdale claims that Nietzsche wanted his notebooks burnt; (2) Hollingdale’s only citation for this claim is a newspaper article; (3) as Magnus points out, that newspaper article actually claims that wanted page proofs of Twilight destroyed; (4) as Magnus points out, Hollingdale may have been relying on the book by Bernoulli, published 18 years after the fact, which makes an ambiguous and unsupported claim about Nietzsche wanting various notebook materials destroyed.

Notice, also, that when Young claims that Nietzsche threw many of his notes in the wastebasket, no reference or citation is given.

Here's what I say in my book:

"Let’s start with the first story. From June to September 1888, Nietzsche stayed at a guesthouse in Sils-Maria and composed many notes on will to power and other topics. Hollingdale (1999, 250) claims that when Nietzsche departed, he left behind and instructed his landlord to throw out many of these 1888 notebook writings; however, Hollingdale tells us that the landlord saved the manuscripts, and some of them were ultimately published in the Will to Power. Others have repeated Hollingdale’s story, claiming that Nietzsche wanted his notebooks destroyed; see, for example, Leiter (2002, xvii) and Young (2010, 628 note 9). This story is often cited in support of the idea that Nietzsche abandoned his will to power project: after all, if Nietzsche consigned so many of his writings on will to power to the wastebasket, he can hardly have regarded those notes as important! However, the story is apocryphal. Hollingdale’s only cited source for this story is a magazine article from 1893, but as Magnus (1986) points out, this article is flatly inconsistent with Hollingdale’s claims: the article says that Nietzsche left behind and instructed his landlord to throw out not notebooks, but page proofs of Twilight of the Idols. [Footnote: Magnus speculates that Hollingdale’s actual source for the story must be a “similar but by no means identical tale” in a 1908 work entitled Franz Overbeck und Friedrich Nietzsche: Eine Freundschaft by Carl Bernoulli. For a discussion, see Magnus (1986, 88).] So this story appears to be a mere myth that has somehow managed to live on in certain areas of Nietzsche scholarship."

Paul Katsafanas

Brian Leiter said...

My "failure of "reading comprehension" consists in saying Hollingdale when I should have said Magnus was your source for the claim that it was page proofs of Twilight.

Your evidence still doesn't show the story is apocryphal. Take a look at the account in Bernoulli, whose source was presumably Overbeck. Bernoulli is unambiguous that Nietzsche handed off papers and notebooks to the landlord to be burned. That would be consistent, of course, with what we do know, namely, that the notebooks contained materials Nietzsche had passed over for publication when producing other books in the intervening years.

Paul Katsafanas said...

Yes, I’ve looked at the Bernoulli book. It’s quite vague (it doesn’t say which writings Nietzsche wanted to discard) and it seems to be based on conversations that occurred almost two decades after the alleged event. If this is the best support you can produce for the claim that Nietzsche rejected his will to power theory, then I’m not worried!

Also, let’s just step back from the particulars for a moment and think about how flimsy this general argumentative strategy is. Suppose someone produces definitive proof that, in the weeks before he slipped into insanity, there was a day when Nietzsche wanted his notebooks destroyed. Why should this be taken as important? We know, as a matter of fact, that there are writings from Dec. 1888 in which Nietzsche expressly states that he’s still working on a project involving revaluation and will to power, and in which he refers to The Antichrist as the first volume of that work (see the Appendix to my book, where I discuss Brobjer and others on this point. Here's a quote from Brobjer that I've lifted from my book:

"when Nietzsche very carefully revised his EH manuscript—“weighing each word on a gold scale” (KSB 8: letter to Ko ̈selitz, 9 December 1888)—in early December, he did not change the reference to A as “the first book” . . . Still more important, when he revised his NCW in the latter part of December, which he had begun writing and compiling on December 12, he then again refers to A as the “first book of the revaluation of values.”" (Brobjer 2010, 21–2)

Aside from this, there’s plenty of material on will to power in the published works. (Again, see my book on this point.)

Paul Katsafanas said...

Oh, and I should also point out: there's a huge leap from the claim that Nietzsche wanted SOME (or even ALL) of the notes from June-Sept. 1888 destroyed to the claim that Nietzsche wanted "much of what we have" or "many of his writings on will to power" destroyed. If Bernoulli is right, the former is true; but there's absolutely no evidence for the latter.

Brian Leiter said...

You're running together a few issues here. One issue is the status of the Nachlass material generally. Another (the issue in my 2000 paper on N's metaethics) is the textual basis for the Millian-style argument based on will to power. A third is the textual evidence for the strong doctrine of the will to power of the kind on which your reading depends.

On the first, we know that throughout the 1880s, Nietzsche left behind Nachlass material as he published other material from his notebooks. From Bernouilli we know that some significant number of papers and notebooks were to be trashed. (I've no idea why you think this comes from a conversation two decades after the fact. The book appeared in 1908, when the research was done, or how it was done, when he learned of this from Overbeck etc., is unclear from the discussion circa 300-301, is there evidence elsewhere in the book?) The landlord didn't trash them. Your hypothetical is not the real situation: Nietzsche didn't decide this the day before his mental collapse. He decided it months before, and in so doing it was consistent with his publication practices, i.e., he effectively discarded lots of this material by passing it over when culling materials for his books. By early fall of 1989, he had apparently decided to just leave the stuff behind (there's no dispute he didn't take these papers with him).

On the second, the Millian-style argument for will to power as the objective standard of value appears only in Nachlass material, and never in the published works. This is not relevant for your particular thesis, but it is relevant for my purposes.

On the third, the evidence in the published work for the form of the will to power doctrine you need is not as strong as you think, and there is much inconsistent with your way of taking the doctrine. The best evidence actually is also from the Nachlass. I haven't argued that here, however.

Brobjer's point is consistent with Young's point: the project became The Revaluation of Values, after having originally been The Will to Power. Whether the Antichrist was the first or entire project is neither here nor there.

Brian Leiter said...

"early fall of 1888" not "early fall of 1989," above.

Matt Meyer said...

Brian, Paul:

I’m glad that Brian has raised this issue on his blog and that Paul has had the opportunity to respond. In my view, it is very important because it is not just about how we interpret Nietzsche, but it is about what we are supposed to be interpreting. I will say in advance that I side more with Paul than Brian, but that Brian is right to point to Bernoulli as evidence for a *version* of his claim. Moreover, there seems to be further evidence to support the account we find in Bernoulli that has not been mentioned here. Nevertheless, I still stand by the more general claim that I make in my own book that Brian is overstating the conclusions we can draw from such evidence. Let me explain.

Let’s start with Brian’s claim that Nietzsche wanted “much of this [Nachlass] material destroyed, and it was only the intervention of others, independent of Nietzsche, that resulted in the material being saved for posterity.” To begin, it must be said that Brian himself is not fabricating a sort of “fake news” story in Nietzsche scholarship to suit his interpretive project. Instead, in the worst case scenario, he’s latched on to claims already present in the Anglo-American secondary literature—claims put forth by Hollingdale and repeated by others—that nevertheless do not withstand further scrutiny. This, I think, is the reason why Paul uses the term “apocryphal” to describe Brian’s position.

My own view, expressed in my book, was a bit more tempered than Paul’s. I simply did not find enough justification for Brian’s claim that what Nietzsche wanted burned was “much” of his Nachlass. As Magnus points out, the source Hollingdale seems to rely on—an 1893 article in Magazin fuer Literatur—does not say what Hollingdale claims it says. Instead, it simply tells a story of how Fritz Koegel discovered an unpublished variant to the preface of Twilight of the Idols in perusing the proofs for the text that Nietzsche had left at Sils. As Magnus also notes, Hollingdale’s real source for this claim seems to be the account given by Bernoulli, and this is the evidence to which Brian now refers.

In my book, I did not consider Bernoulli to be legitimate evidence for Hollingdale’s claim because it seemed to be based on the same questionable source: the aforementioned Magazine fuer Literatur (Bernoulli, to my knowledge, does not refer to any other sources). So unless there was some further evidence to corroborate Bernoulli’s and so Hollingdale’s claims, I did not think we could be justified in believing Bernoulli’s claim that Nietzsche left “Blaetter, Kladden und Korrekturbogen” in Sils to be burned by his landlord, Durisch. Instead, the most we could believe was that Nietzsche wanted the proofs of Twilight burned (I mistakenly claimed in my book that Nietzsche wanted a variant to the preface of TI burned), which is what Magnus reports the Magazine fuer Literatur as claiming (I have not personally verified Magnus’ claims about the magazine article). ...(Part I of II)...

Matt Meyer said...

However, I have since discovered another account (although not firsthand) that I think corroborates Bernoulli’s claims. The account is by Nietzsche’s sister, Elizabeth Foerster-Nietzsche, and can be found in Das Nietzsche-Archiv, seine Freund und Feinde (1907; one year prior to Bernoulli’s 1908 book) (pp. 25-28). As I understand it, Elizabeth gives an extended account of how a certain Herr Petit, an admirer of her brother, went looking in Sils for something from Nietzsche’s hand to have as a piece of memorabilia only to stumble upon a trove of documents that Nietzsche had left behind and instructed Durisch to burn (Elizabeth explicitly uses “verbrennen” (p. 28)). As the story goes, Durisch never got around to doing this, and Petit was shocked to find that Durisch was willing to give these away to admirers like himself. The story soon got out, and when she heard about this, Elizabeth set out to acquire these documents from Durisch. Now in her possession, she incorporated these notes into what became known as The Will to Power. So assuming I’m not mistaken, Elizabeth’s account confirms a version of what Brian has been claiming: Nietzsche wanted some of what we now find in The Will to Power—and so Nietzsche’s Nachlass—to be burned.

The problem, however, is that Brian claims that Nietzsche wanted “much” of his Nachlass material destroyed, and there is reason to think that the material he left behind in Sils only constitutes a small portion of the Nachlass. Indeed, Elizabeth seems to tell us precisely which “aphorisms” (her term) in The Will to Power are based on this compromised material (p. 27). It is my understanding that the 1067-section version of The Will to Power was first published in volumes IX and X of the paperback edition of Nietzsche’s collected works in 1906 (one year prior to her account in Das Nietzsche-Archiv), and Elizabeth identifies the following sections of those volumes as based on the material that Nietzsche left behind in Sils: 32, 256, 395, 417, 534, 673 (Vol. IX) and 732, 902, 1040, 1061 (Vol.X).

If this is right, then Brian seems to have overstated the conclusions we can draw from the story: there are, it is true, a few sections of The Will to Power based on material that Nietzsche left behind to be burned. This, however, is only a small fraction of The Will to Power, and, even more importantly, The Will to Power is only a small fraction of Nietzsche’s entire Nachlass. So the claim that Nietzsche wanted “much” of his Nachlass material destroyed does not seem to be supported by any of these accounts. Perhaps there are other sources that support what Brian claims is the “standard narrative,” but I am not aware of these.

Of course, it could also be that Elizabeth (or I) have understated the amount of material left behind in Sils that has since made its way into the Nachlass. Since this is an issue that affects readings of Nietzsche worldwide (and not just Anglo-American scholarship), it would only make sense to ask someone affiliated either with the archive or the critical edition of Nietzsche’s works which of the Nachlass material was left behind in Sils. I will say, however, that I would be surprised if Brian’s view were vindicated by such a process (I also think that Brian mischaracterizes Montinari’s position, but that’s for another post). This is because a number of German scholars—Abel, Figl, Mueller-Lauter, and Gerhardt—closely associated with either the critical edition of Nietzsche’s works or the Nietzsche Studien have produced prominent readings of Nietzsche that rely heavily on Nachlass material. Of course, it could be that the likes of Holllingdale, Young, and Brian have some insight into Nietzsche’s Nachlass that has been overlooked by these scholars. In any case, it’d be nice to get everyone—to the extent possible—working on the same page, and so it’d be good to get the facts straight in this matter. I do hope that by pointing to Elizabeth’s account in Das Nietzsche-Archiv that I’ve contributed in some way to this end.

Best regards,
Matt Meyer

Matt Meyer said...

This is just a supplement to what I said above. In the letter that Elizabeth quotes, Petit does claim that "countless proofs and manuscripts" were laid out before him (p. 26). So it does seem like a lot of material, even more than what I note above. However, Petit also says that the majority of this material consisted in corrections, and among the manuscripts, he noticed that most were variations and sketches that belonged to works that he already knew (p. 27). Finally, Elizabeth insists that even though her brother may have told Durisch to burn "some pieces of paper," this did not mean that this material was "wertlos"; it also did not mean that her brother wanted all of this material burned simply because the pieces of paper were placed in the same cabinet as the other material.

Hope this helps!


Paul Katsafanas said...

Hi Brian,

I don't want to perpetuate this indefinitely, but let me just point out one thing: you are equivocating on your central claim.

Your original claim was that Nietzsche wanted "much" of the "Nachlass material in the 1970s and 1980s" destroyed. That's completely fictional. Unless you have some hitherto unrevealed source, what we have (weak) evidence for is a much more modest claim: that Nietzsche trashed some unspecified portion of the material that he wrote during a four-month portion of 1888.

Your new claim, in the most recent comment, is that Nietzsche "effectively discarded lots of this material by passing it over when culling materials for his books." Of course he did. Throughout his career, he passed over various notebook materials. There's plenty of material on naturalism, free will, critiques of moral norms, etc. that's present in the notebooks but not in the published works. But now "effectively discarding" doesn't mean actually discarding; it just means not publishing.

So, in your original post and your published writings on this topic, you make the very strong claim that Nietzsche wanted to destroy many of his notebooks. You've now endorsed the completely different claim that Nietzsche "trashed" his notebooks merely in the sense that he didn't publish all of the materials in them. The first claim is false (or at least unsupported by any evidence that you've revealed); the second is obvious and uncontroversial. Moreover, the second claim applies equally well to notes on will to power, naturalism, freedom, morality, agency, and so forth. If not publishing a significant portion of the notes on topic X shows that Nietzsche abandons topic X, then we'd be forced to conclude that Nietzsche also abandons his arguments about naturalism, morality, agency, and so forth.

Also, on the Brobjer point: Nietzsche's notes show that he's frequently changing the title of his planned four-volume work on revaluation and will to power. What's important is not whether he would have titled it "Revaluation of All Values" or "Will to Power"; what's important is the content. Most of the plans for the work give will to power a prominent role. And the first volume of the work, The Antichrist, explicitly states that will to power is Nietzsche's criterion of evaluation and then goes on to use this criterion to assess Christianity and Christian morality ("What is good? Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself." (A 2)) I discuss this here:


Brian Leiter said...

Paul, repeating the words "fictional" and "acrophyal" and "false" does not make it so. It is not false, it is true, that Nietzsche left behind a substantial amount of Nachlass material in Sils to be burned. Bernoulli reports it (though, contra Matt, I don't see the evidence that he was relying on the same source as Hollingdale) and, as Matt now reports, Elisabeth confirms it. As Matt notes, there is a factual question about how many papers were to be destroyed and how much of that material made its way into the Will to Power. That's the only live question; Paul simply overclaims in his 2013 book, without having consulted the Bernoulli, or the sources Matt has now called to our attention.

Matt, if you have any ideas how to solve the crucial factual question--namely, how much of the Nachlass and the later Will to Power were to be burned--please let me know.

Paul, this is minor, but since you persist in mangling my points: it's been my standing principle of interpretation for a long time to utilize the Nachlass when its themes and arguments are continuous with the published works. One of the more striking discontinuities pertains to ambitious claims about the will to power, unlike the other topics you mention. My only point is that someone who had been in the habit of culling publishable material from his notebooks, and leaving other stuff unpublished, might have decided to finally discard the passed over material. Is that what happened in Sils in 1888? We don't know, but it's quite plausible that it was.

In any case, the claim here and in my published works has been the same: the available evidence indicates that Nietzsche wanted his Nachlass destroyed. Bernoulli supports that point, as does Elisabeth from the evidence Matt discusses above. There is an open question, as already noted, how much material this was, and how much of it ended up in The Will to Power.

Matt, this is also minor, and I doubt you'll disagree, but Elisabeth's judgment about the value of the material isn't itself of much value! She had no philosophical judgment, and every motive in the world to mine this material for her own enrichment. As to the German scholars that utilize the Nachlass, I don't find that relevant: first, many of these scholars have weak philosophical judgment; and second, too many of them have been influenced by Heidegger's perverse judgment that the Nachlass was the real Nietzsche.

Matt, am I right that the references for a lot of what you discuss here are in your book?

Brian Leiter said...

I just looked again at the Bernoulli account, and it's interesting that he mentions, papers, journals, drafts and proofs as the materials Nietzsche asked the landlord to burn--so it is explicitly in Bernoulli's account a quite wide-ranging set of materials.

Matt Meyer said...

Hi Brian (Paul):

So your last question first: No, much of what I am now discussing is not in my book. I do express a judgment somewhat similar to Paul’s in the book (and talk about Magnus in a way that I now think is slightly mistaken), but all of this stuff about Elizabeth being the source of Hollingdale’s story is something I’ve just come across since you ran this important post. In this sense, I feel like I’m reporting my findings as I’m doing my reading and research, and so I would read and assess what I have to say here with that in mind.

To your second to last point: Yes, I didn’t mean to endorse Elizabeth’s value judgment. I was just “reporting” what I found in her book. I will say here that if I am right that Elizabeth is the source of Hollingdale’s story, then you wouldn’t want to undermine her credibility altogether. Also, I noticed that Elizabeth gives more accounts of her brother wanting other material burned. You can find the text here ( and despite the style, you can still search under “verbrennen” to find a handful of different passages in which she mentions materials being “burned”. So this may add more fuel to your fire!

To your third to last point: I am nevertheless surprised that you are still saying—in your most recent post—that “Nietzsche wanted his Nachlass destroyed” rather than just some small part of it (and remember, the Nachlass is much greater than The Will to Power). As far as I can tell, the relevant material from Sils that made its way into The Will to Power was written on pieces of loose paper, not the notebooks that I understand make up much of the Nachlass, and so I don’t think that this story would affect very much of the Nachlass.

As for how we might determine which materials were retrieved from Sils, my sense is that we could contact Ralf Eichberg. He’d either know himself or he’d be able to point us to someone who does (assuming that this knowledge is available). I think *if* you want to take the strong stance that we cannot rely *at all* on materials gathered from Sils, then an effort should certainly be made to figure out which material this is. Again, I’m only researching this now, but it seems that some of the sections of The Will to Power that were based on this material did *not* make it into KSA.
...(Part I of II)...

Matt Meyer said...

Now to your initial point: To the best of my recollection, my reason for originally thinking that Bernoulli’s source for his story was the Magazin fuer Literatur was because he references it on p. 301. So my thought when I wrote what I did in my book—a thought based on Magnus’ account—was that the origin of the misreporting of the story was the movement from this Magazin to Bernoulli (and then on to Hollingdale), and since Magnus claimed that the Magazin was only about a preface for TI (and proofs), I didn’t have reason to trust Bernoulli’s account and so I did not count it as *clear* evidence for your position (in retrospect, I perhaps should have stated this explicitly, rather than merely pointing readers to Magnus’ footnote). What I now see is that Elizabeth’s account provides the sort of evidence I did not find in Bernoulli, and so I now consider it a reason to put some trust in both accounts. (As an aside, I have now tracked down the relevant piece from the Magazin and have read through it. As Magnus rightly reports, it is largely about an unpublished variant to the forward for TI and how this was discovered in Sils among various proofs for his published works (which could be proofs for more than just TI) that were left there. However, I don’t find anything about Nietzsche’s interest in having this and the other material burned. So, again, it seems that Elizabeth (and her reporting of Petit’s letter) is the source for this story.)

As a final comment, I will say that I, like Paul, am worried about your use of “discard” especially in relation to your account of Montinari's position. It seems to me that Montinari believes that we *can* use WP 1067 to help us interpret BGE 36, and the reason why Nietzsche did not include WP 1067 in the final plans for The Will to Power was because Nietzsche felt that BGE 36 had already expressed the ideas in WP 1067. In short, publishing WP 1067 in Nietzsche’s final version of The Will to Power would have been repetitive, and so M.'s position is not that Nietzsche "discarded" (especially not in the sense of wanting it "destroyed") the note, but that he did not "select" it for publication.

I hope this helps. I will say that I don’t have a huge stake in this debate, and I even think we need to spend a lot more time focusing on the published works—rather than piecing together positions from the unpublished Nachlass. However, I do think that the Nachlass is very important for understanding the published works, and so I don’t see enough evidence here to think that we should stop relying on it for this purpose (perhaps you agree, but in some matters, such as BGE 36-WP 1067, you seem to reject the use of the Nachlass in this sense). In any case, I think we owe it to ourselves and others to get the facts straight in this matter (to the extent possible), even if our interpretation of those facts might diverge.


Brian Leiter said...

Matt, thanks for all this information. A couple of more observations/questions:

First, thanks in particular for the link to Elisabeth's book. I was discounting her philosophical judmgnet, not her credibility!

Second, I agree with you it's an open question how much material was being thrown out, but if you look at Bernoulli's description of the different materials to be burned, it sounds like rather a lot of different kinds of material! You note that "the relevant material from Sils that made its way into The Will to Power was written on pieces of loose paper, not the notebooks that I understand make up much of the Nachlass, and so I don’t think that this story would affect very much of the Nachlass." Bernoulli's description of the material N. asked the landlord to burn is compatible with both being included. (Here's another question: do we know what papers N. had with him in Turin upon his collapse? Do we know if the notebooks were possessed by others even when N. was in Sils? Or did he travel with them everywhere?)

More coming...

Brian Leiter said...

Bernoulli does mention the 1893 article, that's correct, but I found it ambiguous whether it was his source from what he says at the bottom of p. 301, but it could be you're right.

I'll have to look again at the Montinari, but it's fair to say that WP 1067 and BGE 36 are rather different passages, and there's a reason will to power enthusiasts prefer the former to the latter!

Again, thanks for this guidance.

Brian Leiter said...

Also, for anyone: is the fall 1893 Magazin fur Literatur article on-line anywhere?

Matt Meyer said...

Here's the link to the Magazin article (see pp. 702-704):

Yes, Bernoulli does mention "Blaetter, Kladden und Korrekturbogen". I'm not familiar with "Kladden" but it seems to mean some sort of notebook (or notebooks). So there may have been more material (and more important material) than I claimed above.

As for Bernoulli using the Magazin article as a source, I'm just explaining what I now recall as my thinking when writing my book. I'm not saying that this is right.

As for your question about the papers Nietzsche had with him in Turin and what he carried around with him, that might be answered in the two texts we've been discussing (Elizabeth's and Bernoulli's). What may be of interest to you is that Elizabeth explains the way in which, in 1885, she showed her brother a box/crate/chest of writings/manuscripts from his youth that he had both forgotten and even gave--again!--to her to burn, but that she instead kept in the said box in Naumburg (Elizabeth uses this story to explain how her brother, upon seeing the materials, told her that she was born to be his biographer). What this suggests is that a good portion of the Nachlass materials (at least from his youth and maybe up until 1885?) were stored away in Naumburg.

As a final note, you should look at p. 21 of Elizabeth's account. She does say that her brother had a tendency to want to burn his older writings so that they wouldn't get into the hands of strangers and she backs this up by quoting Gast as saying that he and Friedrich burned the first three parts of the manuscript to Zarathustra in Venice in 1887.

Again, I hope this helps.


Paul Katsafanas said...

Hi Brian and Matt,

I'll just note that I agree completely with Matt. I don't go into this material in detail in my book; I'm not an archivist, and others will know more about this than I do. I simply report that the Hollingdale story is apocryphal (that is, "of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true"). I stand by that judgment: as we've now established, Hollingdale's citation for the story talks about page proofs of Twilight rather than Nachlass materials. We can speculate, with Magnus, that Hollingdale meant to cite Bernoulli. But, as Matt points out, even Bernoulli doesn't support Hollingdale's claim: all that Bernoulli says is that Nietzsche wanted unspecified set of notes burnt, not that he wanted the entirety of his notebooks burnt. So, again, the Hollingdale-inspired claim that Nietzsche wanted many notes burnt is based on rather flimsy evidence.

I don't have much stake in this; as I point out in my book, I don't think anything important turns on whether the Hollingdale story is correct. And I agree with Brian's claim that the notebook materials should be used only when they are continuous with the published works.

I would urge Brian, however, to be more cautious in his formulations. Consider the difference between these claims:

Brian's claim: "the available evidence indicates that Nietzsche wanted his Nachlass destroyed." (Note that Nietzsche's Nachlass is something like ten thousand pages.)

Bernoulli's claim: Nietzsche wanted some unspecified set of notes and papers burnt

Elisabeth's claim, according to Matt: Nietzsche wanted to destroy ten of the notes that made it into Will to Power (that's less than 1% of the 1067 notes that made it into Will to Power, which is itself a tiny fragment of Nietzsche's Nachlass)

Brian's very strong claim would be interesting if true, but we have yet to see any evidence for it; as far as I can see, we've only been given evidence for the weaker claims. I'm happy to be corrected on this if I'm wrong. But, again what's the evidence for Brian's strong claim supposed to be?


Brian Leiter said...

Matt, thanks for those interesting extra details and the link, which I'll check out shortly.

Paul, you've ignored Matt's other post above, where he notes that, "In the letter that Elizabeth quotes, Petit does claim that 'countless proofs and manuscripts' were laid out before him (p. 26). So it does seem like a lot of material, even more than what I note above." But, again, its precise contents are uncertain, as with Bernoulli's accounting. But as Matt now points out, Nietzsche was in the habit of burning unused material, or asking that it be burnt, including (on Elisabeth's account) all the material stored at Naumburg through 1885. Until we get answers to some of the questions I raised above (e.g., what papers did N. take with him to Turin in the fall of 1888, what papers were found there, beyond the manuscripts for the final books, etc.) we may not be able to pin this down. But between Bernoulli and now Elisabeth, it appears Nietzsche wanted to be rid of all the unused papers prior to 1885, which would greatly reduce the page count from 10,000 by the time we get to Sils in September 1888.

Brian Leiter said...

This has been a very useful set of comments, thanks to both of you for discussing this and to Matt for the new research!

Matt Meyer said...

Yes, Elizabeth's account does add fuel to Brian's fire--to continue the pun--but let's again be careful. This may be in part my fault from what I say in my 2:04pm post above, but I would advise Brian against claiming that "it appears Nietzsche wanted to be rid of ALL the unused papers prior to 1885" (my emphasis).

All we know from what Elizabeth says (assuming it's all true) is that (based on the bottom of p.8 and top of p. 9):

1) She has a box of ordered materials in Naumburg that she's collected from Friedrich's youth perhaps up to 1885. **This does not mean, however, that everything her brother had written during this time and has since been made part of his Nachlass is in that box.**

2) She claims that her brother had forgotten about the existence of such material and that he even gave *most*--not *all*--of it to her to have burned. So this does support a modified version of Brian's position.

3) However, upon showing and even reading some of this material to Friedrich, he was so overjoyed--possibly that she had preserved it--that he began to cry. This is when Elizabeth claims that she was baptized his biographer (again, this makes me wonder about the authenticity of the story).

So in this particular case, it seems that even though Friedrich gave Elizabeth **some** of his writings from this time to be burned, he was--upon learning of their existence--happy to know that she had not carried this out (and there is nothing in Elizabeth's account indicating that he again wanted these materials burned). Indeed, it seems that if Friedrich had really wanted these materials burned he would have just done it himself.


Brian Leiter said...

Matt, thanks again for this useful clarification of what the evidence shows.

Matt Meyer said...

So I want to make one more—perhaps final—contribution to this discussion. I did a little more looking around and found that Elisabeth repeats, in her 1913 book “Der einsame Nietzsche” (p. 92-93), a version of the story about the box (Kiste) of what are now Nachlass materials that she claims “Fritz” wanted to have burned. As far as I can tell, the box contains materials that run from his youth up through his time in Basel (but not after that). This is because the discussion about having them burned took place as Fritz was moving from Basel and traveling back to Naumburg in 1879. Of course, this does not mean that the box contains all the materials that Fritz wrote during this period. However, Elizabeth does say that these materials make up (much of? all of?) the ninth and tenth volumes of the Grossoktavausgabe of his works—as I understand it, this is Nachlass that runs from 1869-1876—as well as the volumes that include his philological writings. What this means, of course, is that an unpublished work like “On Truth and Lie” might have been among those writings that Fritz, according to Elisabeth, wanted burned. 

Nevertheless, later in “Der einsame Nietzsche," Elisabeth repeats the story that she tells in “Das Nietzsche Archiv” about Fritz’s joyous reaction when she showed him the box of materials again in 1885. She also repeats a point that I didn’t mention before: Fritz returned in the spring of 1886 to place “one or two notebooks” in the box (p. 334). Of course, this indicates that Fritz no longer wanted to have the material burned. Instead, he was adding to these materials presumably because he wanted them to be preserved for posterity—at least according to Elisabeth’s account.

So what can we make of all this? It seems clear that Elisabeth’s account of Fritz leaving material behind in Sils that was then used to create "The Will to Power" helps undermine the status of “The Will to Power” as a book that supposedly stands alongside the other published works in stature and significance. This, I think, was Hollingdale’s point, and it is certainly a conclusion that Montinari would support. However, I’d be more concerned if this evidence were used to undermine the legitimacy and authority of the Nachlass contained in the Colli-Montinari critical edition of Nietzsche’s works and its role as a supplement and aid for understanding the published works. Surely, one can’t use this evidence to reject the use of the entire Nachlass in the KGW/KSA for this purpose. Could it be used to reject some of the Nachlass? Perhaps, but I find it hard to believe that Colli and Montinari didn’t take these kinds of stories into account when putting together the critical edition of Nietzsche’s works. Maybe they didn’t, and some of the material is corrupt. But if that’s the case, I do hope that this issue would be taken up with those in charge of the critical edition so that we’d have some indication in the KGW/KSA (as well as the Digital Critical Edition) as to which notes and sketches are legitimate aids for understanding the published works and which should be devalued or even disregarded because Nietzsche wanted them thrown in the rubbish or even burned.

Again, I hope this helps.


Brian Leiter said...

Thanks again Matt for these additional details. I've never seen any evidence that C&M excluded material from the critical edition because N. didn't want to publish it, have you? Part of the interest of the Nachlass is that it's clearly full of stuff that N. chose not to publish, since it dates from periods in which he published other material. The most striking fact about the Nachlass is the discontinuities on many (not all) themes as compared to the published work.

Matt Meyer said...

Well, it is interesting that Elisabeth points to a number of WP passages that she claims were based on papers rescued in Sils, and we know that at least two of these (WP 534 and 1061) were not included in the critical edition of the Nachlass because of a “missing manuscript [Ms. verloren]”. Of course, this does not say that these notes were excluded because Fritz wanted them burned. It is, however, interesting that some of these passages did not make it into the Nachlass, and so there may be some connection with Sils.

Regarding the continuity/discontinuity of the Nachlass and the published works, I don’t think, as a general point, that this is entirely relevant to the discussion since there seems to be agreement that the Nachlass (and therefore “The Will to Power”) does not have the same status as the published works (as so-called “lumpers” assert). This is because in cases of clear conflict or discontinuity, the published works should be preferred. In cases of clear continuity, the Nachlass becomes largely superfluous.

The real issue seems to be when the statements in Nietzsche’s published works are unclear or even indeterminate, and the question is whether we can then turn to the Nachlass, as well as his sources and historical context, to make sense of what we find in the published works. I think we clearly can, and I think this is the sense in which Montinari intended the Nachlass to be used.

However, I’m not entirely sure you agree. At times, it seems like you do, and I think I recall you making statements to this effect. At other times, it seems that you want to use the arguments of Montinari and Hollingdale, arguments directed primarily against “The Will to Power,” to reject the use of the Nachlass (or just parts of it) in this sense. And this is where I’m not convinced, even with regard to any material Nietzsche may have left behind in Sils. This is because the second-hand (third-hand?) story we have about Sils is ambiguous as to whether Nietzsche was merely indifferent about such material or whether he wanted it destroyed (I have doubts about the latter because I wonder why he didn’t just do it himself). Thus, I think it’s still permissible to use such material if it helps illuminate the published works. However, I’d be willing to reconsider my view if clear evidence could be produced showing that Nietzsche wanted certain portions of what is now his Nachlass destroyed. And again, I’d also want to know exactly which materials those were.

Brian Leiter said...

As you know, many commentators, sometimes explicitly and often in practice, do not observe the stricture that when the Nachlass is discontinuous with the published work that the latter should be preferred. Heidegger is the most notorious case, but many other more sober scholars (e.g., Reginster, Richardson) in practice often privilege the Nachlass over the published work. There are rarely cases of "clear continuity," but rather cases in which the same ideas are worked out in different ways in the Nachlass and in published work, and there, of course, the Nachlass can be helpful. That's what I've always tried to do in any case.

Matt Meyer said...

I'm sure there will be some disagreements about specific cases of continuity and discontinuity (or even indeterminacy), but if this is your position, then it seems we agree on the general principle of how the Nachlass should be used in relation to the published works (and I even share your concerns about the work of Reginster and Richardson in this respect). Perhaps Paul would agree, too? In any case, thanks for taking the time to talk this out. Best, Matt

Paul Katsafanas said...

Just to respond to Matt's question--yes, I do agree with this. If the notebook material contradicts the published material, the published material should be preferred. So the notebooks are useful only when they clarify or expand upon materials in the published works. I do agree with Brian that there are some very notable cases in which this interpretive principle is ignored; perhaps the paradigm is Heidegger (although Heidegger is actually a more complicated case than this might suggest--after all, he sometimes claims to be revealing what lies behind Nietzsche's expressed thought, rather than just offering an explication of what Nietzsche actually said. And he is in good company: Nietzsche does the same thing with Socrates, Kant, and so on.)

But I think that the more interesting cases arise when there's disagreement about specific instances of drawing upon the notebooks. Given that we don't have grounds for rejecting _all_ uses of the notebooks (as Brian's original post and early comments seemed to suggest), the interesting interpretive disputes will come down to whether specific claims from the notebooks are compatible with or useful for explicating specific claims in the published works. For example, in my book I claim that certain Nachlass claims about will to power are compatible with and help to explicate more compressed published claims about will to power. The way to rebut my interpretation wouldn't be to dismiss use of the notebooks as such, or to rely on (as Matt nicely puts it) thirdhand reports about what Nietzsche wanted to do with some unspecific set of notes, or to speculate about whether Nietzsche wanted to publish a book titled "Will to Power" or, instead, "The Revaluation of Values"; it would be to argue against the specific interpretive claims themselves. And analogously with Richardson, Reginster, Matt, and others who use the notebooks.

I suppose another way of putting this is as follows: I think every responsible scholar would agree with Brian's claim that the Nachlass should be used only when it is continuous with the published works. But what counts as "continuous" is open to interpretation and dispute. There are some clear violations of the principle (perhaps Heidegger on the metaphysical interpretation of will to power is an example); some borderline cases; and some unproblematic cases.

R. Kevin Hill said...

'we know that at least two of these (WP 534 and 1061) were not included in the critical edition of the Nachlass because of a “missing manuscript [Ms. verloren]”.'

And don't forget § 256. Well, in a sense they were, as they can be found at KGW div. 7, IV/2, p. 71. At this point, with the Alternate Transcription of div. 9, there isn't anything in WP that can't be found "in the KGW" in one form or another.

Anonymous said...

I must say, I learned a great deal from this debate between two outstanding scholars.

However, it does seem to me that we might want to question the premise that appears to govern this conversation: that if Nietzsche wanted the notes destroyed, that material is unreliable, most especially if it contains claims that contradict the published work.

Of course, there are perfectly good scholarly reasons to accept this premise. On the other hand, the fact that Nietzsche wished to get rid of all or part notebooks is itself subject to - interpretation. For a thinker who avowedly craved a mask, it may be the case that the notebooks simply reveal too much, show too much scaffolding. If that were the case they would be especially valuable. Moreover, as Jaspers and others have pointed out, Nietzsche's published work is not always consistent with the published work.

It also seems to me that a single methodological rule for what is admissible and what is inadmissible in a text is a style of reading Nietzsche himself called into question. But then again, as he would surely ask, who says that thinkers must be evaluated solely on the criteria that they propose?