Skip to main content

Keith Ansell-Pearson

Biography

I joined Warwick's Philosophy Department in 1993 and have held a Personal Chair since 1998. Prior to coming to Warwick I held positions at the University of Malawi and Queen Mary College of London University. I did my MA and DPhil at the University of Sussex. I have presented lectures around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States. In 2013/14 I was Senior Visiting Research Fellow in the Humanities at Rice University.

Research Interests

I have research interests in the history of philosophy, in philosophy as a way of life, and in modern and contemporary European philosophy. I am the co-editor of two new book series: Philosophy as a Way of Life, with Matthew Sharpe & Michael Ure (Bloomsbury Press), and The Edinburgh Critical Guides to Nietzsche, with Daniel Conway (Edinburgh University Press). I am a member of GIRN (Groupe International de Recherches sur Nietzsche). I serve on the editorial boards of Cosmos and History, Deleuze Studies, Journal of Nietzsche Studies, and Nietzsche-Studien. I draw inspiration from Foucault's concise conception of the problem of philosophy: how can the world be the object of knowledge and at the same time the place of the subject's test?

Current Research

Philosophy as a Way of Life

For the past few years I have been working with colleagues in Australia (Matthew Sharpe at Deakin and Michael Ure at Monash) 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. 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. As part of the series I am editing, with Federico Testa, the English edition and translation of Jean-Marie Guyau’s text, The Ethics of Epicurus (1878). Guyau's text is important because it demonstrates so well that Epicurean ethics represents an art of living conceived in terms of an 'art of conduct' or 'the art of spiritual and material direction'. According to Guyau, Epicurus's philosophy is not a pure, theoretical science but constitutes a practical rule of action. Indeed, for him philosophy is in itself a praxis, 'an energy that seeks to produce, by discourses and reasoning, the blissful life' (Guyau). I have recently completed an essay on Bergson and philosophy as a way of life, which is to be published in a new volume of essays dedicated to Bergson edited by Alexandre Lefebvre for Cambridge University Press. I take my cue from Pierre Hadot who has revealed that for him as a young student of philosophy at the Sorbonne, 'Bergsonism was not an abstract, conceptual philosophy, but rather took the form of a new way of seeing the world'.

Bergson Studies

Bergson's Lectures

I am the general editor of an exciting publication venture by Bloomsbury Press. This is the translation into English of the recently published series by PUF (2016-18) of three public lecture courses by Bergson: The History of the Idea of Time (1902/3), The History of Theories of Memory (1903/4), The Evolution of the Problem of Freedom (1904/5).

Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition

I have recently published a new book on Bergson with Bloomsbury entitled Bergson. Thinking Beyond the Human Condition. Gilles Deleuze has written that, ‘Bergson is not one of those philosophers who ascribe a properly human wisdom and equilibrium to philosophy.’ And as Pierre Hadot notes, Bergson offers the promise of a new way of seeing the world and transforming perception. The task is to think beyond our habitual, utilitarian perception, which is necessary for life. Hadot calls it the paradox and scandal of ‘the human condition’ that we live in the world without properly perceiving it. In eight chapters I explore Bergson's major preoccupations, such as the nature of time and memory, his reformation of philosophy and conception of creative evolution, his approach to ethics, his thinking on religion, and his conception of the tasks of education and the art of life. Throughout I seek to demonstrate what it means for Bergson to think beyond the human condition.

Nietzsche Studies

My new book on Nietzsche, Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy (Bloomsbury 2018) explores his middle writings. I provide a series of readings of Human, all too Human (1878-80), Dawn (1881), and The Gay Science (1882). Topics covered include: Nietzsche's conception of philosophy and the philosopher; Nietzsche on fanaticism; Nietzsche on the passion of knowledge; Nietzsche's philosophy of modesty; the meaning of Nietzsche's philosophical cheerfulness; and his conceptions of happiness and joy. I show that an ethos of Epicurean enlightenment informs aspects of Nietzsche's project in the middle writings, and the book attempts to illuminate what this amounts to.

I am completing a book, co-authored with Rebecca Bamford, on Nietzsche's text of 1881, Dawn. Dawn is 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. Although there is no master concept at work in Dawn, and no overarching method (but a plurality of methods that add up to an experimental philosophy), the text may be better for their absence, helping to constitute one of Nietzsche's most subtle and delicate experiments at writing and thinking. It is no exaggeration to claim that for the greater part of Nietzsche-reception Dawn has been among the most neglected texts in Nietzsche's corpus, little studied as a complete text 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. This study aims to correct this neglect and to provide an instructive appreciation of one of Nietzsche's most fertile texts.

Selected Book Publications

  • Bergson and the Time of Life (Routledge, 2002). Read Review
  • (ed. with John O Maoilerca) 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
  • Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition (Bloomsbury Press, 2018).
  • Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy: On the Middle Writings (Bloomsbury Press, 2018).

Recent and Forthcoming Essay Publications

  • "Bergson and Philosophy as a Way of Life", in Alexandre Lefebvre (ed.), Interpreting Bergson: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, 2019).
  • "Life and Pleasure: On Jean-Marie Guyau's Reception of Epicurus", in Antonio Cimino, Frederik Bakker, & Elena Nicoli (eds.), Hellenistic Philosophy and Modern Thought from Nietzsche to Nussbaum (forthcoming, 2019).
  • "Bergson's Encounter with Biology: Thinking Life", Angelaki, 10: 2, 2005.
  • "Beyond the Human Condition: An Introduction to Deleuze's Lecture Course", Substance, 36: 3, 2007, pp. 59-72.
  • "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).
  • "Henri-Louis Bergson (1859-1941)", The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (on-line version, published 2017).
  • "Bergson, Education, and the Art of Life", in A. J. Bartlett & Justin Clemens (eds.), What is Education?, (Edinburgh University Press, 2017), pp. 115-136.
  • "Bergson's Reformation of Philosophy in Creative Evolution, Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, XXIX: 2 (2016), pp. 84-105; a modified version of this essay is also published as 'Bergson's Reformation of Philosophy' in Dissertatio Volume Supplementar 4: Revista de Filosofia, Dossie Bergson 2016 (Brazil), pp. 51-62.

  • "A Melancholy Science? On Bergson's Appreciation of Lucretius", Pli, 27 (2015), pp. 83-101.

  • "Beyond the Human Condition: Bergson and Deleuze", in Jon Roffe (ed.), Deleuze and the Non/Human (Palgrave Macmillan, 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.), The New Politics of Materialism (Routledge, 2017), pp. 88-109.

  • "Naturalism in the Continental Tradition" (with John Protevi), in Kelly James Clark (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Naturalism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), pp.34-49.
  • "Heroic-Idyllic: Nietzsche on Philosophy and the Philosopher in Human, all too Human", in Celine Denat & Patrick Wotling (eds.), Human, trop humain, et les debuts de la reforme de la philosophie (Éditions et presses de l'université de Reims, 2017), pp. 219-243.
  • "Nietzsche and Kant on Epicurus and Self-Cultivation", in Matthew Dennis & Sander Werkhoven (eds.), Ethical Self-Cultivation: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Routledge, 2018), pp. 68-83.
  • "When Wisdom Assumes Bodily Form: Marx and Nietzsche on Epicurus", in Manuel Dries (ed.), Nietzsche on Consciousness and the Embodied Mind (Walter de Gruyter, forthcoming, 2018).
  • "Circumnavigators of Life's Remote and Dangerous Regions: Nietzsche on the Pre-Platonic Philosophers", Journal of the Dialectics of Nature (China), 39: 3, 2017, pp. 1-21.
    "Nietzsche, Foucault, and the Passion of Knowledge", in Alan Rosenberg & Joseph Westfall (eds.), Foucault and Nietzsche: A Critical Encounter (Bloomsbury Press, 2018), pp. 79-99.
  • "Nietzsche and Epicurus: In Search of the Heroic-Idyllic", in Mark Conard (ed.), Nietzsche and the Philosophers (Routledge, 2017), pp. 121-145.
  • "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.
  • "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.
  • "'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.
  • "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.
  • "Nietzsche on Enlightenment and Fanaticism: On the Middle Writings", in Paul Katsafanas (ed.), The Nietzschean Mind (Routledge, 2018), pp. 11-27.
  • (with Michael Ure), "Contra Kant: Experimental Ethics in Nietzsche and Guyau", in T. Bailey & J. Constancio, Nietzsche and Kantian Ethics (Bloomsbury Press, 2018), pp. 257-291.
  • "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.
  • "Beyond Obligation? Jean-Marie Guyau on Life and Ethics", in Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, Volume 77, October 2015, pp 207-225.
  • "Naturalism as a Joyful Science: Nietzsche, Deleuze, and the Art of Life", Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 47: 1, Spring 2016, pp. 119-141.

KAP

Professor of Philosophy
Office Hours:

Currently by appointment

MA Modules:

Bergsonism

UG Modules:

Philosophy and the Good Life

beyond_2.jpg

nietzsches_new.jpg