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Keith Ansell-Pearson

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

"What would you ask of philosophy? To feed you on sweets and lull you in your errors in the hope that death may overtake you before you understand anything? Ah, wisdom is sharper than death and only the brave can love her". Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo.
Research Interests & Recent Research

I read widely in the history of thought and literature. I have a longstanding interest in the texts of Nietzsche. I am now carrying out research on the writings of the Spanish-American philosopher Santayana (1863-1952), one of the most knowing and well-read philosophers of the twentieth century.

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 and co-edited 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. In 2022 a specially commissioned volume of essays, co-edited with Paul S. Loeb, on Nietzsche's text, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, was published by Cambridge University Press.

Bloomsbury also published a book on Bergson, Thinking Beyond the Human Condition in 2018. Recent published essays on Bergson include 'Bergson and Philosophy as a Way of Life' in Interpreting Bergson (Cambridge University Press), and 'Bergson on the Emotions' in The Bergsonian Mind (Routledge).

Current Research

I have recently completed 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, and the task of the poets as seers of future virtues. Through a close and exacting reading of the full range of Nietzsche's corpus, including illuminating his intellectual development, I clarify in what specific sense we are to construe Nietzsche as a 'poet-philosopher' and his philosophy as a philosophy of the future.

I am now researching a book on Santayana and the nature of philosophy and the philosophical life. I focus my attention on several important philosophical topics and probe Santayana's contribution to our understanding of each topic under investigation, typically by examining his engagements with a number of ancient and modern philosophical and literary figures, including: Lucretius and the poetry of naturalism; Plato and spiritual life; Plotinus and the nature of evil; Shakespeare and the tragedy and comedy of the passions; Spinoza and beatific rationalism; Hume and scepticism; Shelley and revolutionary poetry; Emerson and mysticism; Whitman and the prophet of the lost cause; Nietzsche and the egotism of German philosophy; Proust and the sentiment of time and doctrine of essences; Freud and Eros and Thanatos; and William James and the maze of philosophy. I also examine the importance for Santayana of the mythical figure of Hermes. The book carries the working title of Naturalism & the Sanity of Philosophy: Reading Santayana.

With my Warwick colleague David James I am editing a volume of commissioned essays on the empathetic emotions and to be published by Oxford University Press. My own contribution to the volume will be an essay on Emerson & Santayana focused on the the limits of sympathy and the value of integrity.

Recently published essays and forthcoming essays include:

  • 'Philosophy as a Way of Life in Thus Spoke Zarathustra' (with Marta Faustino), 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
  • 'Nietzsche on Transforming the Passions into Joys: On the Middle Writings and Thus Spoke Zarathustra,' in

    Nietzsche, penseur de l'affirmation: Relecture d'« Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra », ed. CL. Bertot et. al (Presses Universitaires de Louvain, 2019), pp. 73-91.

  • '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



  • 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