The Re-invention of Philosophy as a Way of Life: Australian Research Council Discovery Project Awarded to Keith Ansell-Pearson and Colleagues in Melbourne
The ARC recently announced the results of this year’s applications for ‘Discovery Projects’. Keith Ansell-Pearson, as Partner Investigator, and Michael Ure (Monash) and Matthew Sharpe (Deakin), as Chief Investigators, have been awarded one of these prestigious grants for a three-year long project on the ‘Re-invention of Philosophy as a Way of Life’. International workshops will be held at Monash University’s Centre in Prato, Italy in 2014 and 2015. The research will result in a number of publications, including a Companion volume, translations of neglected texts in post-Kantian European philosophy, and scholarly monographs. The research project will provide the first synoptic study of the modern and contemporary reinvention of the idea of philosophy as a way of life and its philosophical and cultural significance.
Here is a brief summary of the core aims of the project:
The core aim of this project is to examine modern re-inventions of the classical ideal of philosophy as a way of life. It will investigate the reanimation of this idea in post-Kantian philosophy. The research will be highly significant in providing the first sustained study of how 19th and 20th century European philosophy transformed ancient philosophical schools, such as Epicureanism and Stoicism. 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'. The research will explore whether the nineteenth and twentieth century reinventions of Hellenistic philosophical therapies represent an alternative tradition of philosophy, and whether they can contribute to contemporary medical therapeutic practices and conceptions of flourishing. Do these modern reinventions of ancient philosophical therapies identify and address maladies that lie beyond modern medicalised, positivist psychology? Does the modern philosophical tradition have a viable model of philosophical therapy that might enable it to contribute to extra-academic, practical concerns about leading a good or flourishing life? In addressing these questions the research project will contribute to a pressing issue in contemporary culture: namely, whether the extraordinary scientific power to transform the natural world can be complemented with philosophical wisdom about how we ought act in the world. Thinkers to be examined include Bergson, Deleuze, Foucault, Hadot, Camus, Nietzsche, and Guyau. Keith Ansell-Pearson will contribute to the research work that will be carried out on a number of these thinkers, and his specific contribution will be to show the need for an integration of the philosophy of life and the art of life.