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Keith Ansell-Pearson

Profile

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 my graduation I have published widely and with a concentration on the work of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Deleuze. I have pioneered the study of biophilosophy within the tradition of continental philosophy. I have presented lectures around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the USA. In 2013/14 I have been a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. I serve on the editorial boards of, amongst others, Cosmos and History & Deleuze Studies.

Teaching and Supervision

My current teaching focuses on the philosophy of life; the philosophy of nature; and philosophy as a way of life.

I welcome inquiries about PhD supervision and am especially interested in supervising research in the area of modern European philosophy, including: the philosophy of nature, the philosophy of life, and the philosophy of time.

Thinkers that especially interest me include Bergson, Whitehead, Merleau-Ponty, and Deleuze.

Current Research

My current research focuses on developing a post-human Bergsonism. Here the effort is made to think beyond the human condition and to think from the perspective of life itself, and to do so in a way that challenges anthropocentrism. It is important to show how it is possible for the human to overcome its existence as a closed living system and re-connect with the rest of the living world. I am thus interested in modes of thought, including Bergsonism, that advance a philosophy of life centred on the articulation of a post-human mode of perception.

A great deal of my current research focuses on illuminating the character of Bergson's text of 1907, Creative Evolution. I wish to show that Bergson has two discourses about the human in the text: the first is the endeavour to think beyond the human condition and so as to identify with the generative character of life itself; the second is perhaps a more familiar human-centred discourse that seeks to argue, in highly delicate terms, that the human being occupies a privileged place in the story of the evolution of life. I want to show that even here, though, Bergson’s position is an innovative one. I argue that it is Bergson’s effort at thinking beyond the human condition that is most relevant to our posthuman situation: it has ecological resonances and it contains the prospect of extending human perception beyond its normal frame of reference. Dynamic theories of biology and evolution can only operate through the recognition of the temporal character of living systems, ecological theories can only operate through the recognition of sympathy between organisms, and Bergson developed both these approaches at a time when biological science on the whole operated by treating organisms as raw material. Our thinking of life today is moving away from control and towards participation, away from exploitation and towards sustainability, and only now is scientific thought embarking on the path that Bergson pointed out a century ago, a path that he had seen indicated in the evolutionary biology of the late 19th and early 20th century.

At present I am working on a number of projects, including a new book and a book series:

  • Thinking Beyond the Human Condition with Bergson. Of Bergson Deleuze writes that, "he is not one of those philosophers who ascribes a properly human wisdom and equilibrium to philosophy" (Bergsonism). Indeed, Bergson conceives philosophy as the discipline that “raises us above the human condition” (la philosophie nous aura élevés au-dessus de la condition humaine’) and makes the effort to “surpass” (dépasser) it. This endeavour serves as the starting point for my exploration of texts and materials of Bergson, including Matter and Memory and Creative Evolution. I intend to bring Bergson into rapport with current discourses on the posthuman and the idea of a post-humanities.

  • The Re-invention of Philosophy as a Way of Life. With colleagues in Australia (Michael Ure at Monash and Matthew Sharpe at Deakin) I am working on a three-year long 'Discovery Project' 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. Thinkers to be examined include Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Emerson, Guyau, Bergson, Camus, Deleuze, Foucault, and Hadot.

 

Selected Book Publications

Selected Recent and Forthcoming Essay Publications


 

KAP


 

Professor of Philosophy

Office Hours:

Currently by appointment

MA Modules:

Nietzsche

Bergsonism

Deleuze and Philosophy: Empiricism and Naturalism

UG Modules:

Nietzsche in Context