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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 and in modern 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.

Recent research includes essays on: Nietzsche and Foucault on questions of the subject; Nietzsche and Foucault on the Passion of Knowledge; Marx and Nietzsche on Epicurus; Nietzsche and Kant on Epicurus and self-cultivation; Jean-Marie Guyau on life and ethics; Bergson on education and the art of life; and Deleuze's new materialism.

Teaching

In the 2018/19 academic year I shall be teaching an undergrdauate module (open to MA students) on Philosophy and the Good Life, which is focused on ancient and modern philosophers and utilises materials from Western and non-Western thinkers; and a MA module on Nietzsche, which is focused on his middle writings, especially The Gay Science.

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).

New Moralistes: Nietzsche and Camus

There are a number of ways in which we can construe Nietzsche as a 'philosopher': as a metaphysician, indeed as 'the last metaphysician of the West' (as Heidegger has it); as a naturalist, be it 'methodological', 'existential', or 'artful'; and as a moraliste in the French tradition that runs from Montaigne to La Rochefoucauld and Chamfort. I follow Robert Pippin who has contended that Nietzsche is most fruitfully understood not as a great metaphysician, or as the destroyer or culminator of metaphysics, perhaps not very interested in metaphysics at all, but rather as thinker who follows in the footsteps of the great French moralists. In this new study I bring Nietzsche and Albert Camus into rapport with one another, and in relation to this intellectual tradition. Here I am inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre's astute insight that Camus's 'great masters' are not the modern existentialists, but rather the French moralists of the seventeenth century. I explore some fundamental topics, including the nature of the free spirit or free mind; the passion of knowledge and 'la gaya scienza'; scepticism as an intellectual practice; the nature of human freedom and the character of ethics; and the notion of the absurd and the problem of nihilism.

Nietzsche Studies

In recent years I have sought to make a contribution to Nietzsche studies with a focus on his middle writings. I have written the Afterword to the new edition and translation of Dawn published by Stanford University Press in 2011 and as part of The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche. I am now completing a study of the text, co-authored with Rebecca Bamford, and to be published by Wiley-Blackwell. In my recently published book with Bloomsbury, Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy: On the 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.

Bergson Studies

Bergson's Lectures

I am the general editor of a 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).

Thinking Beyond the Human Condition

I have recently published with Bloomsbury, 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.

Selected Book Publications

  • Nietzsche contra Rousseau (Cambridge University Press, 1991/1994).
  • (ed.) Nietzsche and Modern German Thought (Routledge, 1991).
  • (ed.) A Companion to Nietzsche (Blackwell, 2006).
  • (ed. with Duncan Large), The Nietzsche Reader (Blackwell, 2006).
  • How to Read Nietzsche (Granta, 2006).
  • 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). Read review | Read review
  • Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy: On the Middle Writings (Bloomsbury Press, 2018).

Recent and Forthcoming Essay Publications

  • "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, 2018), pp. 1-19.
  • "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.
  • "Naturalism as a Joyful Science: Nietzsche, Deleuze, and the Art of Life", Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 47: 1, Spring 2016, pp. 119-141.
  • "Bergson and Philosophy as a Way of Life", in Alexandre Lefebvre (ed.), Interpreting Bergson: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, 2019).
  • "On Jean-Marie Guyau's Reception and Working Through of Epicurus", in Antonio Cimino, Frederik Bakker, & Elena Nicoli (eds.), Hellenistic Philosophy and Modern Thought from Nietzsche to Nussbaum (forthcoming, 2019).
  • "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.

  • (with Michael Ure), "Contra Kant: Experimental Ethics in Nietzsche and Guyau", in T. Bailey & J. Constancio (eds.), 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.

KAP

Professor of Philosophy
Office Hours:

Currently by appointment

MA Modules:

Nietzsche

UG Modules:

Philosophy and the Good Life

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