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
- Has research interests in the history of philosophy, in philosophy as a way of life (especially its modern re-invention), and in modern European philosophy. Known internationally for his pioneering work on Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson, and Gilles Deleuze; he has also published essays on diverse figures such as Jean-Marie Guyau, Michel Foucault and Peter Sloterdijk.
- Serves on the editorial boards of, amongst others, Cosmos and History, Deleuze Studies, Journal of Nietzsche Studies, and Nietzsche-Studien. He is on the scientific committee of 'Nietzscheana' edited by Giuliano Campioni and Maria Cristina Fornari (ETS, Pisa). He is also a member of GIRN (Groupe International de Recherches sur Nietzsche).
- Co-editor of two new book series: Philosophy as a Way of Life (Bloomsbury Press); The Edinburgh Critical Guides to Nietzsche (Edinburgh University Press).
- 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.
- Author of recent essays on Deleuze and new materialism; Bergson's Reformation of Philosophy; Nietzsche, Foucault, and questions of the subject; Nietzsche and fanaticism; Nietzsche and the sublime; and Epicureanism in modern European philosophy.
- 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.
- Co-author of forthcoming study of Nietzsche's neglected text, Dawn. Nietzsche's Dawn (with Rebecca Bamford, (forthcoming, Wiley-Blackwell 2017/18). 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. The text can be read 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. In Dawn Nietzsche’s is a specifically ethically-motivated naturalism: how might we relearn our subjectivities so that we can fashion them in ways that are more conducive to our bodily and spiritual well-being and flourishing and that does not assume what “morality” assumes and demands? For Nietzsche the presumptions of morality are the target to be attacked because they assume knowledge that he thinks we simply do not have and only serve to prevent such knowledge from being developed. As he says at one point in the text, we are experiments and the task is to want to be such.
Researching a new book on the early Nietzsche: Unfashionable Nietzsche: Holding onto the Sublime. In this study I aim to shed new light on the early Nietzsche, especially the Unfashionable Observations, by construing Nietzsche as a thinker of the sublime. Typically we associate Nietzsche with the motif of the ‘tragic’, but what are we to make of figurations of the sublime we find in his writings? In his early writings Nietzsche is attracted to the sublime and conceives philosophy in particular as the discipline whose essential task is to ‘hold onto the sublime’. I suggest he is attracted to the sublime because it is the notion that best captures how we are able in human experience to push beyond certain limits. In Nietzsche the limits to be transcended are manifold. They include: the limits of ordinary experience and understanding; the limits of reason; the limits of social conformism and conservatism; and the limits of scholarship and scholasticism. Indeed, his concern with the sublime manifests itself in the title of his early project where the chief task is to be ‘unfashionable’: the genuine thinker for Nietzsche is one who is able to go beyond the limits, both fashionable and timely, of his own time. For Nietzsche it’s not so much a question of the sublime providing us with access to some ideal of a rational and universal moral humanity, as it is in Kant and Schiller, but more that certain privileged and superior insights, perceptions, and moments become available to us. Ultimately, the importance of the sublime for the early Nietzsche is that it provides us with a mode of access into questions of value, enabling us to cultivate an appreciation of what is important and significant and this resides in according positive value to what is rare, abnormal, and extraordinary. In essence, then, the sublime is being used by Nietzsche to indicate a dedication to that which is truly important and significant over the fleeting and fashionable.
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.
The Philosophy of Life and the Art of Life in Bergson (Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2018).
- "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. 84-105.
- "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).