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Keith Ansell-Pearson

Profile

I joined Warwick's Philosophy Department in 1993 and have held a Personal Chair since 1998. I did my graduate studies 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. I have research interests in the history of philosophy, in modern European philosophy, and in American thought and literature. Areas of philosophy that especially interest me include the philosophy of the emotions and passions, philosophy as a way of life, and the philosophy of time and memory.

Recent Research

In recent years I have sought to make a contribution to the appreciation of Nietzsche with a focus on his middle writings. These are writings that Nietzsche considered his most congenial, that Foucault aptly describes as 'strange, witty, and graceful', and that according to Havelock Ellis represent the maturity of his genius. 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. In 2018 Bloomsbury Press published Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy: On the Middle Writings. A study of Nietzsche's text Dawn (Philosophy, Ethics, and the Passion of Knowledge), co-authored with Rebecca Bamford, will be published in the autumn of 2020 by Wiley-Blackwell. Though a groundbreaking text, Dawn remains the least studied text in Nietzsche’s corpus, but is experiencing a resurgence of interest as trends in contemporary research have focused on Nietzsche’s naturalism and his futurism. Our study articulates Dawn’s nascent contributions to the signature doctrines of Nietzsche’s mature scholarship, and examines the continuing relevance of his critique of fear, superstition, and moral and religious fanaticism. We highlight Dawn’s social-psychological insights and its critical reflections on traditional morality, making connections with recent scholarship on skepticism, ethical naturalism and experimentalism, and the art of living well.

In 2018 Bloomsbury Press published Bergson. Thinking Beyond the Human Condition, which received an Outstanding Academic Titles Award by CHOICE. The book seeks to illuminate Bergson's view that philosophy is the discipline of thinking that makes the effort to think beyond the human condition so as to enrich our sense of self and extend our perception of the universe. The book features chapters on Bergson on time and freedom, on memory, on his reformation of philosophy, on religion, on ethics, and on education and the art of life.

Current Research

Books in Progress

  • I am researching a book that examines Nietzsche’s corpus in the light of Pierre Hadot’s conception of philosophy as a way of life. Hadot laments the decline of philosophy from being a total way of life, as it was for the ancients, to becoming an academic specialism with its own technical jargon, and he cites Nietzsche, amongst a few other figures, as an example of a modern thinker for whom philosophy was a way of life. Bringing Nietzsche into dialogue with Hadot offers a fruitful avenue of research: while Hadot’s considerations on philosophy as a way of life shed light on Nietzsche’s novel philosophical practice, Nietzsche might offer an important contribution for current debates inspired by Hadot on what philosophy is – or should be. I show that there is not a single conception of philosophy as a way of life at work in Nietzsche's writings: it encompasses, for example, the classical concern with with genuine education centred on the tasks of self-cultivation, along with a treatment of the passions, as well as the upholding and practice of certain intellectual virtues, notably intellectual integrity and honesty, a dedication to the passion of thinking, and the pursuit of the passion of knowledge. I explore the full range of Nietzsche's corpus, his reception of the Hellenistic practices of philosophy, and I bring him into rapport with other relevant figures such as Montaigne, Spinoza, and Emerson.
  • With Lorenzo Serini I am researching a book in which we seek to illuminate Nietzsche on a number of passions and bring him into rapport with a range of seminal thinkers & writers, including Epictetus, Montaigne, Spinoza, Adam Smith, Rousseau, Diderot, La Rochefoucauld, Schopenhauer, and Stendhal. Passions to be treated include vanity, sympathy, pity, envy, malice, melancholy, cheerfulness, joy, shame, fear, hope, grace, and love. Other topics covered include Nietzsche on moods, on the role of emotion in human perception, on music and the emotions, on the critique of the affects of the religious psyche, on the philosopher's serenity, on the poets and the passions, and on the passion of thinking.

Book Projects

  • With Federico Testa I am preparing an English edition and translation of Jean-Marie Guyau’s text, The Ethics of Epicurus (1878).
  • With Paul S. Loeb I am co-editing a new volume of essays on Thus Spoke Zarathustra for Cambridge University Press to be published in their 'Critical Guides' series. The volume will showcase new research.
  • I have been appointed 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).

Essays

  • I have completed an essay on 'Making Sense of Nietzsche as a Sceptic', to be published in Celine Denat & Patrick Wotling (eds.), On Nietzsche Making Sense of Nietzsche (Reims University Press, forthcoming 2021).
  • I am researching an essay on figurations of the poet in the middle writings for a volume of essays on Nietzsche being edited by James I. Porter for a new series entitled Cambridge Studies in Literature and Philosophy.
  • An essay entitled "Nietzsche on Transforming the Passions into Joys: On the Middle Writings and Thus Spoke Zarathustra" has recently been published in Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra. Nietzsche et la philosophie de l'affirmation, sous la direction de C. Bertot, J. Leclercq et P. Wotling (Presses Universitaires de Louvain).
  • An essay on 'Bergson and Philosophy as a Way of Life' has recently been published in the volume of essays, Interpreting Bergson: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press), edited by Alexandre Lefebvre and Nils Schott.
  • I have recently completed an essay on Bergson on the emotions that will be published in the Routledge volume, The Bergsonian Mind, being edited by Mark Sinclair and Yaron Wolf.
  • With Federico Testa I have completed an essay on Jean-Marie Guyau and ethics for the Oxford Handbook of Modern French Philosophy, and that is being edited by Mark Sinclair and Daniel Whistler.
  • I am researching an essay on Proust and memory for a volume being edited by Anna Elsner and Tom Stern, and for Routledge's Philosophical Minds series.

Links to Book Series

Re-inventing Philosophy as a Way of Life Book Series

The Edinburgh Critical Guides to Nietzsche, Series Editors Keith Ansell-Pearson & Daniel Conway

Selected Book Publications

Authored

  • Nietzsche contra Rousseau (Cambridge University Press, 1991).
  • Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy: On the Middle Writings (Bloomsbury Press, 2018). Read Review | Read Review | Read Review | Read Review | Read Review
  • Nietzsche's Dawn: Philosophy, Ethics, and the Passion of Knowledge (co-authored with Rebecca Bamford) (Wiley Blackwell, forthcoming 2020).
  • Bergson and the Time of Life (Routledge, 2002). Read Review
  • Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition (Bloomsbury Press, 2018). Read review | Read review | Read Review

Edited

  • Nietzsche and Modern German Thought (Routledge, 1991).
  • A Companion to Nietzsche (Blackwell, 2006).
  • (with Duncan Large), The Nietzsche Reader (Blackwell, 2006).
  • (with John O Maoilerca) Bergson: Key Writings (Bloomsbury Press, 2002, second edition 2014).
  • The New Century: Bergsonism, Phenomenology, and Responses to Modern Science (Acumen/University of Chicago Press, 2010). Read review
  • (with Paul S. Loeb), A Critical Guide to Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021).

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    'Only once we have lost the world do we realise the infinite extent of our relations', Thoreau

    'In Genoa, at the time of evening twilight, I heard from a tower a long chiming of bells: it refused to end and rang, as if insatiable for itself, above the noise of the streets and out into the evening sky and sea air, so horrible and at the same time so childlike, full of melancholy. Then I recalled the words of Plato and suddenly felt them in my heart: nothing human is worth taking very seriously: nevertheless - - ', Nietzsche

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