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Keith Ansell-Pearson

Profile

Joined the Philosophy Department at Warwick in 1993 and has held a Personal Chair since 1998. He previously taught at the University of Malawi in southern Africa and Queen Mary College of the University of London. He did his graduate work at the University of Sussex. Since graduation he has published widely in modern European philosophy. He has presented lectures around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the USA. In 2013/14 he was a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. He draws inspiration from Foucault's beautifully concise conception of the problem of philosophy: how can the world be the object of knowledge and yet at the same time the place of the subject's test?

Research Interests and Current Research

My principal research interests are in modern European philosophy and in philosophy as a way of life, especially its modern re-invention.

I serve on the editorial boards of, amongst others, Cosmos and History, Deleuze Studies, Journal of Nietzsche Studies, and Nietzsche-Studien. I am on the scientific committee of 'Nietzscheana' edited by Giuliano Campioni and Maria Cristina Fornari (ETS, Pisa). I am also a member of GIRN (Groupe International de Recherches sur Nietzsche). I am the co-editor of two new book series: with Matthew Sharpe & Michael Ure, Philosophy as a Way of Life (Bloomsbury Press); with Daniel Conway, The Edinburgh Critical Guides to Nietzsche (Edinburgh University Press).

Recent publications have included essays on Nietzsche and Foucault on questions of the subject, on naturalism in the continental tradition, on the reception of Epicureanism in modern European philosophy (Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, and Deleuze), on Deleuze's new materialism, on Bergson's Reformation of Philosophy, and on the work of Jean-Marie Guyau, 'the Spinoza of France' (1854-88). I am the author of the entry on Bergson in the International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell), the Encyclopedia of Political Thought (Wiley-Blackwell), and of the new entry on him that will soon be published in the Routledge on-line Enyclopedia of Philosophy. I have recently completed a book entitled Thinking Beyond the Human Condition with Bergson that Bloomsbury Press will publish in 2017. I am about to complete, with Rebecca Bamford, a co-authored book on Nietzsche's text Dawn that Wiley-Blackwell will publish in 2018.

My current research is focused on the following projects:

1. I have commenced research on a book on Spinoza, Nietzsche, and ethical perfectionism. In recent decades a growing and important body of literature led by figures like Pierre Hadot, Ilsetraut Hadot and Michel Foucault has begun to document the idea that ancient philosophy, and the philosophies of early modern and modern figures like Spinoza and Nietzsche, considered philosophy as a way of life, or an ethical project of self-formation. Philosophy itself is the practise of living the good life. The recovery of this tradition has great significance for understanding both the history and practice of philosophy. In this study the focus is on Spinoza and Nietzsche's relation to this tradition and conception. The 'Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect' is evidence of Spinoza’s perfectionism and of his commitment to philosophy as a way of life: philosophy is not only a mode of knowledge (of self and world), but entails a manner of being and enables this manner to be perfected. The Ethics, Spinoza’s principal work, shows the full character of Spinoza’s perfectionism and his commitment to philosophy as a practice of wisdom: the ultimate concern is with the perfection of human existence and through the practice of philosophy as a way of life. Spinoza’s perfectionism is rooted in philosophical naturalism, or the view that the human being is fully a part of Nature and follows the common order of Nature. As he stresses, insofar as we understand the way of things correctly, the striving of the better part of us will agree with the order of the whole of Nature. With respect to Nietzsche the focus is on bringing him into rapport with Spinoza and doing justice to his diverse body of work and the perfectionist and naturalist strands of his thinking.

2. I am editing a volume of essays on Nietzsche and Epicurus. Epicurus was important to Nietzsche on account of the nature of his philosophical practice – “heroic-idyllic” – and the fact that this practice involved philosophy as a mode of life, an art of existing, and a unique way of being in the world. In this volume of specially commissioned essays the contributors undertake a fresh exploration of Nietzsche’s appreciation of Epicurus and of the Epicurean motifs that characterize his writings. In recent writings I have contended that an ethos of Epicurean enlightenment pervades Nietzsche’s middle writings with Epicurus celebrated for his teachings on mortality and the cultivation of modest pleasures. Although the late Nietzsche has some problems with Epicurus, in his middle writings he writes in praise of him and draws upon his philosophy as a way of promoting what we can call an Epicurean care of self and world. We need to discover this Nietzsche for ourselves and in part as a way of contesting Martin Heidegger’s reading of Nietzsche that focuses on the late writings, mostly the Nachlass, and construes all the major concepts of the late period, notably the will to power and the overman, as indicating that Nietzsche is the “technological” thinker of our age and whose major concept is the will to power and its desire for mastery of the earth though the will to will. My view is that we need a much more subtle and nuanced appreciation of Nietzsche than the Heideggerian reading permits, and one way to develop this is to focus on the neglected middle writings and especially the reception of Epicurus.

3. I am working with colleagues in Australia (Michael Ure at Monash and Matthew Sharpe at Deakin) on a three-year long 'Discovery Project' on the Re-invention of Philosophy as a Way of Life and funded by the Australian Research Council. Many ancient philosophical schools thought the goal of philosophy was to enable individuals to achieve happiness or flourishing. This research examines modern reinventions of this ancient philosophical ideal. It asks whether these reinventions give us sound reasons for believing that contemporary philosophy can and ought to facilitate well-being, and it acknowledges the need to undertake a fresh inquiry into what well-being means for us today. The research has resulted in a book series with Bloomsbury Press that will feature a number of publications, including translations of neglected texts in post-Kantian European philosophy, scholarly monographs, and a Companion volume.

Selected Book Publications

Nietzsche contra Rousseau (Cambridge University Press, 1991/1994).

(ed.) Nietzsche and Modern German Thought (Routledge 1991).

Germinal Life: The Difference and Repetition of Deleuze (Routledge, 1999).

Bergson and the Time of Life (Routledge, 2002). Read Review

(ed.) A Companion to Nietzsche (Blackwell 2006).

(ed. with Duncan Large), The Nietzsche Reader (Blackwell 2006).

How to Read Nietzsche (Granta 2006).

(ed. with John Mullarkey), Bergson: Key Writings (Bloomsbury Press, 2002, second edition 2014).

(ed.) The New Century: Bergsonism, Phenomenology, and Responses to Modern Science (Acumen/University of Chicago Press, 2010). Read review

Henri Bergson Centennial Series, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Thinking Beyond the Human Condition with Bergson (Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2017).

Selected Recent & Forthcoming Publications

  • "When Wisdom Assumes Bodily Form: Marx and Nietzsche on Epicurus", in Manuel Dries (ed.), Nietzsche on Consciousness and the Embodied Mind (Walter de Gruyter, forthcoming).
  • "Nietzsche and Epicurus: In Search of the Heroic-Idyllic", in Mark Conard (ed.), Nietzsche and the Philosophers (Routledge, 2017), pp. 121-145.
  • "True to the Earth: Nietzsche's Epicurean Care of Self and World", in Horst Hutter & Eli Friedland (eds.), Nietzsche's Therapeutic Teaching (Bloomsbury, 2013), pp. 97-116.
  • "Questions of the Subject in Nietzsche and Foucault: A Reading of 'Dawn'", in J. Constancio (ed.), Nietzsche and Subjectivity (Walter de Gruyter, 2015), pp. 411-435.
  • "'Holding on to the Sublime': On Nietzsche's Early 'Unfashionable' Project", in K. Gemes & J. Richardson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook to Nietzsche (Oxford UP, 2013), pp. 226-51.
  • "The Need for Small Doses: Nietzsche, Fanaticism, and Epicureanism", in Celine Denat and Patrick Wotling (eds.), Aurore : un tournant dans l'oeuvre de Nietzsche(Éditions et presses de l'université de Reims, 2015), pp. 193-225.
  • "Care of Self in Dawn: On Nietzsche's Resistance to Bio-political Modernity", in Manuel Knoll & Barry Stocker (eds.), Nietzsche as a Political Thinker (Walter de Gruyter, 2014), pp. 269-86.
  • "Beyond Selfishness: Epicurean Ethics in Nietzsche and Guyau", in R. Bamford (ed.), Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Free Spirit (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2015), pp. 49-69.
  • "Nietzsche on Enlightenment and Fanaticism: On the Middle Writings", in Paul Katsafanas (ed.), Routledge Philosophy Minds: Nietzsche (Routledge, 2017, forthcoming).
  • (with Michael Ure), "Contra Kant: Experimental Ethics in Nietzsche and Guyau", in T. Bailey & J. Constancio, Nietzsche and Kantian Ethics (Bloomsbury Press, 2017), pp. 257-291.
  • "Contra Kant and Beyond Nietzsche: Naturalizing Ethics in the Work of Jean-Marie Guyau", The Hegel Bulletin (Cambridge University Press), 35:2, 2014, pp. 185-203.
  • "Beyond Obligation? Jean-Marie Guyau on Life and Ethics", in Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Volume 77, October 2015, pp 207-225.
  • "Naturalism as a Joyful Science: Nietzsche, Deleuze, and the Art of Life", Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 47: 1, Spring 2016, pp. 119-141.
  • "Naturalism in the Continental Tradition" (with John Protevi), in Kelly James Clark (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Naturalism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), pp.34-49.
  • "Bergson's Encounter with Biology: Thinking Life", Angelaki, 10: 2, 2005, pp. 59-72.
  • "Beyond the Human Condition: An Introduction to Deleuze's Lecture Course", Substance, 36: 3, 2007, pp. 1-15.
  • "Bergson on Memory"& "Deleuze on the Overcoming of Memory", both in S. Radstone & B. Schwarz (eds.), Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates, Fordham University Press (2010), pp. 61-77 & pp. 161-79.
  • "Bergson", in Dean Moyar (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy (Routledge, 2010), pp. 403-33.
  • "Responses to Evolution: Spencer's Evolutionism, Bergsonism, and Contemporary Biology" (with Paul-Antoine Miquel & Michael Vaughan), The History of Continental Philosophy, volume three (Acumen/University of Chicago Press, 2010), pp. 347-79.
  • "Morality and the Philosophy of Life in Guyau and Bergson", Continental Philosophy Review, 47: 1, 2014, pp. 59-85.
  • "Bergson and Ethics", in Hugh LaFollette, The International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), pp. 513-520.
  • "Bergson and Politics", The Encyclopedia of Political Thought (Wiley-Blackwell 2014).
  • "Bergson, Education, and the Art of Life", in A. J. Bartlett, Justin Clemens, Jessica Whyte (eds.), What is Education?, (forthcoming 2017).

  • "Bergson's Reformation of Philosophy in Creative Evolution, Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, XXIX: 2 (2016), pp. 84-105.

  • "A Melancholy Science? On Bergson's Appreciation of Lucretius", Pli, 27 (2015), pp. 83-101.
  • "Beyond the Human Condition: Bergson and Deleuze", in Jon Roffe (ed.), Deleuze and the Non/Human (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 81-102.
  • "Affirmative Naturalism: Deleuze and Epicureanism", Cosmos and History,10: 2, 2014, pp. 121-137.
  • "Deleuze and New Materialism: Naturalism, Normativity, and Ethics", in Sarah Ellenzweig and John Zammito (eds.), Engaging with New Materialism (Routledge, forthcoming 2017).
  • "Deleuze's Posthuman Bergsonism", in Christine Daigle (ed.), Posthumanism through Deleuze (Indian University Press, forthcoming 2017).


 

KAP


 

Professor of Philosophy

Office Hours:

Currently by appointment

MA Modules:

Nietzsche

Bergsonism

Deleuze and Philosophy: Empiricism and Naturalism

UG Modules:

Nietzsche in Context

Philosophy and the Good Life