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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy


published on February 4, 2016

Amy L. McKiernan
DOI: 10.5840/epoche201612959

Nietzsche’s Prefaces as Practices of Self-Care

Although Nietzsche scholars have paid close attention to his aphoristic and rhetorical style, few have focused on his practice of writing prefaces. In this paper, I engage in a close reading of Nietzsche’s prefaces and identify five themes present in his earlier and later prefaces: (1) he speaks directly to his readers, (2) he stresses the necessity of slow and careful reading, (3) he encourages readers to trust themselves, (4) he refers to himself as a herald, and (5) he uses combative and polemical language to describe his work. Given these themes, I conclude that Nietzsche’s preface writing project constitutes a practice of self-care as described by Foucault in “Technologies of the Self” and “The Ethics of the Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom.”