I joined the Philosophy Department at Warwick in 1993 and have held a Personal Chair since 1998. I previously taught at the University of Malawi in southern Africa and Queen Mary College of the University of London. I did my graduate work at the University of Sussex. Since graduation I have published widely in modern European philosophy. I draw 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?
I have research interests in the history of philosophy, in philosophy as a way of life (especially its modern re-invention), and in modern European philosophy. In particular I have made contributions to the study of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Deleuze. I am also developing a research interest in American philosophy, especially Emerson, William James, and Stanley Cavell. I welcome PhD inquiries as they relate to these research interests.
Although I have a wide range of interests a constant in my work has been the study of Nietzsche where I have been keen to situate his writings and their legacy in relation to strands of modern European thought. This first manifested itself in my earliest writings, such as Nietzsche contra Rousseau (1991) and the edited volume, Nietzsche and Modern German Thought (1991). This work is being carried out with renewed vigour and rigour in forthcoming book publications, including Nietzsche's 'Dawn' (co-authored with Rebecca Bamford, 2017), and a new work, Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy (2017/18).
I continue to publish on Bergson and Deleuze. I have essays forthcoming on Bergson, education, and the art of life and on his attempt to reform philosophy in Creative Evolution. 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 written new essays on Deleuze that centre on the reception of Epicureanism in his work, on his appreciation of Bergson's effort to think beyond the human condition, and on his new materialism.
I serve on the editorial boards of, amongst others, Cosmos and History, Deleuze Studies, Journal of Nietzsche Studies, and Nietzsche-Studien. I am an editorial board member of the new book series 'Nietzsche Now', edited by Stefan Sorgner and Yunus Tuncel, and to be published by Cambridge Scholars Press, and 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). With Christian Emden I have recently guest edited a special issue of the Journal of Nietzsche Studies on Nietzsche and the ethics of naturalism (volume 47: 1, Spring 2016). I am now guest editing a special issue of The Agonist on Nietzsche and Epicureanism for publication in spring 2017. My own book series, The Edinburgh Critical Guides to Nietzsche, co-edited with Daniel W. Conway, will launch with Edinburgh University Press in 2019.
Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy (forthcoming, Bloomsbury Press 2017/18). In their final collaborative work Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, having noted that the bibliography on the nature of philosophy is of a highly limited character, reflect on the extent to which the question ‘what is philosophy?’ is one that can be posed only late in life, ‘with the arrival of old age and the time for speaking concretely’. This was not true for Nietzsche who constantly explored this question throughout his intellectual life and even begins it by posing the question in a highly searching way. Nietzsche often says in his writings that Schopenhauer lacked development and history – he has a single conception of life and perception of the world from first to last. The same cannot be said of Nietzsche whose thinking undergoes an extraordinary and striking development in the course of just two decades of writing and thinking. In this study I examine some of the most important moments in this development as they centre on his search for philosophy.
Nietzsche's Dawn (with Rebecca Bamford) (forthcoming, Wiley-Blackwell 2017). It is no exaggeration to say that for the greater part of Nietzsche-reception Dawn has been among the most neglected texts in the corpus, little studied even today, and perhaps for understandable reasons: it deploys no master concept, it does not seek an ultimate solution to the riddles of existence (indeed, it warns against such a strategy), its presentation of themes and problems is highly non-linear, and it states his case for the future subtly and delicately. I read the text as a path breaking work and an exercise in modern emancipation—from fear, superstition, hatred of the self and the body, the short cuts of religion, and the presumptions of morality.
I shall be on study leave from January 2017 through to January 2018. During this time I shall be researching a new book on Nietzsche and Freud.
The following constitute my current main research activities:
Philosophy as a Way of Life. 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.
The Art of the Self and the Art of Life: Nietzsche and Freud. Several studies now approach Freud as a philosopher and Nietzsche has been approached as the remarkable psychologist he was since the time of Walter Kaufmann's classic rehabilitation of him. In this study I seek to bring the two into rapport with respect to the art of the self and the art of life. There will be treatments of their accounts of the self, of the drives, of the unconscious, of guilt and morality, of sublimation, and of narcissism. I shall draw on a range of ideas and sources to illuminate the topic from ancient conceptions of the art of life to Foucault's care of self.
Keith Ansell-Pearson interviewed by Joe Gelonesi, The Philosopher’s Zone, ABC 2015
An Interview with the BBC on Nietzsche, July 1999
A Lecture on the Ethics of Self-Cultivation, University of Warwick, September 2014
An interview with Simon Critchley about his book, 'Bowie': Bowie: Everything and Nothing
Keith Ansell-Pearson and Michael Holroyd discuss Shaw’s ‘Man and Superman’ at the National Theatre, 2015.
“Philosophy as a form of Non- Religious Grace”: Keith Ansell-Pearson interviewed by Dr Andrius Bielskis, 2015.
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).
Philosophy and the Adventure of the Virtual: 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.
Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2017).
- "Heroic-Idyllic Philosophizing: Nietzsche and the Epicurean Tradition", in A. O' Hear (ed.), Philosophical Traditions (Cambridge University Press, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 74, 2014), pp. 237-263.
- 'Afterword', Friedrich Nietzsche, Dawn: On the Presumptions of Morality, trans. Brittain Smith (Stanford University Press, 'Collected Works', volume 5, 2011), pp. 363-409.
- "Nietzsche, the Sublime, and the Sublimities of Philosophy", Nietzsche-Studien, Band 39, 2010, pp. 201-32.
- "'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.
- "Nietzsche and Epicurus: In Search of the Heroic-Idyllic", in Mark Conard (ed.), Nietzsche and the Philosophers (forthcoming Routledge, 2017), pp. 121-145.
- "When Wisdom Assumes Bodily Form", in Manuel Dries (ed.), Nietzsche on Consciousness and the Embodied Mind (Walter de Gruyter, forthcoming).
- "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.
- "On Nietzsche's Moral Therapy in Dawn", Continental Philosophy Review, 44: 2, 2011, pp. 179-204.
- "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.
- "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: Naturalism and Ethics in Nietzsche and Guyau", in T. Bailey & J. Constancio, Nietzsche and Kantian Ethics (Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2017), pp. 257-289.
- "Naturalism as a Joyful Science: Nietzsche, Deleuze, and the Art of Life", Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 47: 1, Spring 2016, pp. 119-141.
- "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).
- "A Melancholy Science? On Bergson's Appreciation of Lucretius", Pli, 27 (2015), pp. 83-101.
- "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. 68-80.
- "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.
- "Jean-Marie Guyau", in Hugh LaFollette, The International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, forthcoming).
- "Beyond Obligation? Jean-Marie Guyau on Life and Ethics", in Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Volume 77, October 2015, pp 207-225.
- "Naturalism in the Continental Tradition" (with John Protevi), forthcoming in Kelly James Clark (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Naturalism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), pp.34-49.
- "Beyond the Human Condition: Bergson and Deleuze", in Jon Roffe (ed.), Deleuze and the Non/Human (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming, 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).