I joined Warwick in September 2021 as Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Research in Post-Kantian Philosophy. Prior to coming to Warwick, I taught at Birkbeck College, University of London and at Exeter College, Oxford. I studied as an undergraduate at Brown and at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and I completed my PhD at Princeton University under the supervision of Alexander Nehamas.
My main research interests are in the history of post-Kantian philosophy (esp. Nietzsche; also German Idealism, Early German Romanticism, and the Frankfurt School) as well as in aesthetics, social philosophy, and ethics.
My book Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2019) focused on Nietzsche's social philosophy. The standard story about Nietzsche’s philosophical development is that after first reposing his hopes in a broader culture, he, in his later work, came to occupy himself instead with the fate of a few great individuals only. I questioned this individualist reading that has become prevalent, and I developed an alternative reading of Nietzsche as a more social thinker, who sees collective cultural excellence as no less important. I used Nietzsche’s perfectionistic ideal of a flourishing culture, and his diagnostics of cultural malaise, as a point of departure for reconsidering many of the central themes in his ethics and social philosophy, as well as for understanding the interconnections with the form of cultural criticism that was part and parcel of his distinctive philosophical enterprise.
In parallel, I have, and have had, a number of stand-alone pieces (published or forthcoming in journals and in edited volumes) on other aspects of Nietzsche's work, and have written on other figures in the post-Kantian tradition, as well as in aesthetics and ethics. Recent work includes papers on the moral psychology of ressentiment; narratives of decadence in the post-Kantian period; Schopenhauer's philosophy of music; Nietzsche's aesthetics; and Proust's treatment of death.
My next book project, Art's Highest Calling: The Religion of Art in a Secular Age, combines my interests in post-Kantian philosophy and aesthetics. I undertake an investigation of an important theme in European aesthetics, from the late 18th century to the 20th century: namely, the idea that art might be a kind of religious substitute. During this heady time of aesthetic theorizing, increasingly ambitious claims get made for art’s metaphysical and spiritual importance, especially in the vacuum the "death of God" leaves behind. Art seeks to take on tasks such as: putting us in touch with ultimate metaphysics; giving us a sense of the sacred; granting salvation in some existentially-significant way; orienting us in a ethical landscape; affording a framework of meaning to human life by situating it in a broader narrative or by encouraging devotion to the values thought to be preeminent; reinforcing the ties of community and rootedness; and offering consolation in the face of suffering, death, and despair. In one form or another, many key thinkers in this strand of thought have the idea that the best art is, if not a full replacement for religion, then in the same fundamental business. My study has an historical and a conceptual dimension: It explores the ways in which art has been presented (implicitly or explicitly) as a religious substitute, and it sheds light on what this was supposed to amount to.
I am an Editorial Committee Member and the Book Reviews Editor at the European Journal of Philosophy. I serve on the Editorial Board of the British Journal for the History of Philosophy and am an area editor of Ergo. I am a Trustee of the British Society of Aesthetics, and the Treasurer of the Royal Musical Association Music & Philosophy Study Group.
In 2021-22, I will be teaching an undergraduate module on Nietzsche, and two postgraduate modules: one on Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, and the other on the 'Religion of Art' in Post-Kantian Philosophy
I am the Convenor of the MA in Continental Philosophy
Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2019).
“‘Only Through Time Time is Conquered’: Proust on Death” in The Proustian Mind, ed. Tom Stern and Anna Elsner (Routledge, forthcoming, 2022)
“Affirmation, Admirable Overvaluation, and the Eternal Recurrence,” Nietzsche on Morality and Affirmation, ed. Daniel Came (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2022)
“Ressentiment,” Ethics 131:4 (2021)
“Narratives of Decadence in Post-Kantian Philosophy” in the Oxford Handbook of Decadence, ed. David Weir and Jane Desmarais, (Oxford University Press, 2021)
“Nietzsche’s Aesthetics,” Philosophy Compass 15:11 (2020)
“Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture: Reply to Critics,” Journal of Nietzsche Studies 51:2 (2020)
“Adorno’s Aesthetic Model of Social Critique,” Blackwell Companion to Adorno, ed. Peter Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky (Blackwell, 2020)
“Nietzsche on Magnanimity, Greatness, and Greatness of Soul, ” Virtues of Greatness: Approaches to the Past and Present of Magnanimity, ed. Sophia Vasalou (Oxford University Press, 2019)
“Nietzsche on Nihilism: A Unifying Thread,” Philosophers’ Imprint 19:11 (2019)
“Nietzsche” in Blackwell Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy, ed. J.A. Shand (Blackwell, 2019)
“Why and (How) We Read Nietzsche,” Journal of Nietzsche Studies 49:2 (2018)
“Against ‘Egypticism’: Nietzsche on Understanding and ‘Defining’ Concepts,” Routledge Philosophy Minds: Nietzsche, ed. Paul Katsafanas (Routledge, 2018)
“Nietzsche on the Health of the Soul,” Inquiry 60:2 (2017), p. 135-164
“Nietzsche and the Hope of Normative Convergence,” Does Anything Really Matter? Parfit on Objectivity, ed. Peter Singer (Oxford University Press, 2017)
“Normativity and the Will to Power: Challenges for a Nietzschean Constitutivism,” Journal of Nietzsche Studies 47:3 (2016), p. 435-456
“Kunstreligion Redeemed: From Religion to Art in Parsifal,” Nietzsche und Wagner: Perspektiven ihrer Auseinandersetzung, ed. Jutta Georg and Renate Reschke (de Gruyter, 2016)
“What is Enshrined in Morality?: Understanding the Grounds for Nietzsche’s Critique,” Inquiry 58:3 (2015), p. 281-307
"Hegel on Comedy: Theodicy, Social Criticism, and the ‘Supreme Task’ of Art,” British Journal of Aesthetics 54:2 (2014), p. 227-40
“‘Consecration to Culture’: Nietzsche on Slavery and Human Dignity,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 52:1 (2014), p. 135-160
“Nietzsche’s Meta-axiology: Against the Sceptical Readings,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22:2 (2014), p.322-43
“The Conversation Argument for Actual Intentionalism,” British Journal of Aesthetics 52:3 (2012), p. 241-256
“Naughty Beliefs,” Philosophical Studies 160:2 (2012), p. 209-222
“In Defense of Artistic Value,” Philosophical Quarterly 62:249 (2012), p. 705-714
The Monist, 102:3, special issue on Nietzsche, July 2019 [co-edited with Ken Gemes]