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Keith Ansell-Pearson

“What is life but a form of motion and a journey through a foreign world? Moreover locomotion—the privilege of animals—is perhaps the key to intelligence". Santayana.

"Everything good is on the highway. The middle region of our being is the temperate zone. We may climb into the thin and cold realm of pure geometry and lifeless science, or sink into that of sensation. Between these extremes is the equator of life, of thought, of spirit, of poetry - a narrow belt". Emerson.

"Shakespeare puts the lunatic, the lover, and the poet together, as being 'of imagination all compact.' The problem is to keep the lover and the poet, without the lunatic". Bertrand Russell.

Professor of Philosophy, Warwick University, 1993-2021.Honorary President of the Friedrich Nietzsche Society, 2021-

Recent Research

In recent years I have contributed to research in several areas of philosophical inquiry, including the philosophy of the emotions & passions and philosophy as a way of life. I have also carried out quite extensive research on the reception of Hellenistic philosophy in modern European thought, especially Epicurean teaching. This research has resulted in a number of published articles and book chapters, as well as the edition of Jean-Marie Guyau's The Ethics of Epicurus (1878), translated by Federico Testa and published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2021. In 2018 a study of Nietzsche's middle writings entitled Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy was published by Bloomsbury Academic. I wrote the Afterword to a new translation and edition of Dawn published by Stanford University Press in 2011 and co-authored a close reading of this text with Rebecca Bamford, which was published by Wiley Blackwell in 2021. No adequate understanding of Nietzsche is possible without a deep acquaintance with his middle writings, and these texts contain some of the most enduring aspects of his philosophical practice.

Current Research

I am bringing to completion a book entitled Nietzsche's New Wisdom: The Philosopher, the Sage, and the Poet. In the book I examine Nietzsche on the nature of wisdom, the figure of the sage, the passions and self-cultivation, and the task of the poets as seers of future virtues. I also illuminate his preference for cold books, his attempts at 'cheerful' philosophising, as well as his commitment to fostering philosophical friendship through the appreciation of new kinds of books and of writing.

I am also researching a book entitled The Sanity and Serenity of Philosophy: Reading Santayana. In this study I show that a concern with sanity informs not only Santayana's understanding of conventional sanity as ‘normal madness,’ but also, and more importantly, his conception of philosophy, his writings on poetry and religion, and his reflections on the art of life. I probe the significance of Santayana's perspectives on sanity for understanding his great relevance today and in relation to the on-going need to cultivate a critical, vital, and serene intelligence. Santayana appeals to me on account of his naturalism, but he is a naturalist or materialist who challenges 'apathetic naturalism' (as he calls it), and who also attends to questions of value and significance in a philosophically wise and mature manner. His writings provide the most perceptive insights into the character of human existence of any modern thinker I know and they instructively clarify the chief predicaments of human thought. In the study I bring Santayana into rapport with a range of thinkers and writers - most of whom he wrote perspicacious essays on - including Schopenhauer, Emerson, Nietzsche, Bergson, Proust, William James, and Bertrand Russell.

Recently published essays and forthcoming essays include:

  • 'Philosophy as a Way of Life in Thus Spoke Zarathustra,' in Ansell-Pearson & Paul S. Loeb, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Critical Guide (Cambridge University Press, 2022).
  • 'How to make sense of Nietzsche as a Sceptic,' in Nietzsche on Making Sense of Nietzsche, ed. M. Béland, C. Denat, C. Piazzesi et P. Wotling (Editions et presses de l’université de Reims, 2021).
  • 'Friedrich Nietzsche: Cheerful Thinker and Writer. A Contribution to the Debate on Nietzsche’s Cheerfulness' (with Lorenzo Serini), Nietzsche-Studien (2022).
  • 'Nietzsche on the Task of the Poets in his Middle Writings,' in James I. Porter, Nietzsche between Philosophy and Literature (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
  • Nietzsche on the Passions and Self-Cultivation,' Continental Philosophy Review, 2022: CPR article
  • 'Schopenhauer on Stoicism as a Way of Life and on the Wisdom of Life,' in David Woods & Timothy Stoll, The Schopenhaurian Mind, Routledge (forthcoming).
  • 'Bergson and Philosophy as a Way of Life,' in Alexandre Lefebvre and Nils Schott (eds.), Interpreting Bergson (Cambridge University Press, 2021).
  • 'Bergson on the Emotions,' in Mark Sinclair (ed.), The Bergsonian Mind (Routledge, 2022).
  • 'Jean-Marie Guyau on Epicurus and the Conduct of Life' (with Federico Testa), Introduction to Guyau, The Ethics of Epicurus (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021).
  • 'Guyau on Life and Morality' (with Federico Testa), in Mark Sinclair & Daniel Whistler (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern French Philosophy (forthcoming).

Selected Book Publications

Authored

Edited

  • Nietzsche and Modern German Thought (Routledge, 1991).
  • The Nietzsche Reader (Blackwell, 2006), with Duncan Large.
  • Bergson: Key Writings (Bloomsbury Press, 2002, second edition 2014), with John O Maoilerca.
  • The New Century: Bergsonism, Phenomenology, and Responses to Modern Science (Acumen/University of Chicago Press, 2010). Read review 
  • Jean-Marie Guyau, The Ethics of Epicurus, ed. with Federico Testa, trans. F. Testa (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021).
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Critical Guide, co-edited with Paul S. Loeb (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Book Series

Co-editor of two book series: Critical Guides to Nietzsche (Edinburgh University Press) and Re-Inventing Philosophy as a Way of Life (Bloomsbury).

Critical Guides to NietzscheLink opens in a new window

Re-inventing Philosophy as a Way of LifeLink opens in a new window

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