Nietzsche’s most famous applications of the genealogical method are standardly thought to involve the use of real history to subvert values by revealing their contingency. But if we look at Nietzsche’s earlier applications of the genealogical method, we find that he also used it rather differently. In his Basel years (1869–1879), Nietzsche sketched primarily fictional genealogical narratives to vindicate values by revealing their practical necessity. In particular, his early genealogies of justice and truthfulness bring him closer to those he called the ‘English’ genealogists than he later cared to admit, earning him a place in what I call the tradition of pragmatic genealogy—a tradition that runs from Hume to recent English genealogists such as Edward Craig, Bernard Williams, and Miranda Fricker.
Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar Convenors: Joseph Schear, Manuel Dries, and Mark Wrathall