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Keith Ansell-Pearson

Profile

Keith Ansell-Pearson joined the Philosophy Department at Warwick in 1993 and has held a Personal Chair since 1998. He previously taught at the University of Malawi in southern Africa and at Queen Mary College of the University of London. He obtained his MA and DPhil from the University of Sussex. He has presented lectures around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the USA. In 2013/14 he was a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. He is the author and editor of several books, and he has published numerous articles in journals and in edited volumes. His books and essays have been translated into several languages, including Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish. He draws 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?

Research Interests

  • Modern European Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Time
  • Philosophy of Life/Nature
  • Philosophy as a Way of Life

Recent Research

Recent research includes essays on Nietzsche and Kant on self-cultivation; Nietzsche and Foucault on the passion of knowledge; Jean-Marie Guyau on ethics and life; Bergson on education and the art of life; Deleuze and new materialism.

New Books

He has recently completed two books, and both will be published by Bloomsbury Press in early 2018.

1) Nietzsche's Search for Philosophy: On the Middle Writings. This book explores Nietzsche's middle writings in terms of what Ansell-Pearson calls his search for philosophy once his turn away from idealism and romanticism takes place in 1878. He provides 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 and the sublimities of philosophy; Nietzsche's philosophy of modesty and ethics of the care of the self; the meaning of Nietzsche's philosophical cheerfulness; and his conceptions of happiness and joy. His principal argument in the book is that an ethos of Epicurean enlightenment pervades Nietzsche's project in the middle writings, and the book attempts to illuminate what this amounts to.

2) 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 Ansell-Pearson explores Bergson's major preoccupations, such as the nature of time and memory, his reformation of philosophy and conception of creative evolution, his innovative approach to ethics, his thinking on religion, and his conception of the tasks of education and the art of life. Throughout he seeks to demonstrate what it means for Bergson to 'think beyond the human condition'.

Current Research

He is 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. Many ancient philosophical schools thought the goal of philosophy was to enable individuals to achieve flourishing. This research examines modern reinventions of this ancient philosophical ideal. It asks whether these reinventions give us sound reasons for believing that contemporary philosophy can and ought to facilitate well-being, and it acknowledges the need to undertake a fresh inquiry into what well-being means for us today. 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 he is editing, with Federico Testa, the English edition and translation of Jean-Marie Guyau’s text, The Ethics of Epicurus (1878).

At present he is researching two books:

1) Thr first is a book on Bergson and Merleau-Ponty, two of the most important French thinkers in the tradition of modern European philosophy who made seminal contributions to our appreciation of notions of time, freedom, perception, memory, life, and consciousness. Recent years have seen a major renaissance of interest in Bergson, whilst Merleau-Ponty’s work continues to have a strong presence in the continental philosophy of mind. However, it is rare for the two thinkers to be brought into rapport. This study will attempt to do this. Merleau-Ponty wrote some important essays on Bergson and a great deal of his writings are marked by a close engagement with Bergson concerning fundamental questions with respect to the aforementioned topics. An analysis of this material informs the start of the inquiry; after this the study covers key areas of philosophical inquiry in the two thinkers, including questions concerning time, perception and consciousness, and nature and life.

2) The second is a book on philosophy and the care of the self and the care of the world: the book aims at a synthesis of existential thinking and ecological thinking. In particular, the aim is to explore the role Epicurean teaching can play in our contemporary thinking about this care. To demonstrate this he draws upon a wide range of thinkers in the modern and contemporary European tradition, including Nietzsche, Guyau, Foucault, and Hadot. The study seeks to show what an Epicurean care of self and world amounts to and why this mode of care should matter to us today.

Selected Book Publications

  • Nietzsche contra Rousseau (Cambridge University Press, 1991).
  • Germinal Life: The Difference and Repetition of Deleuze (Routledge, 1999).
  • Bergson and the Time of Life (Routledge, 2002). Read Review
  • (ed. with John Mullarkey) 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, 2018).
  • "Beyond the Pleasure Principle: 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).
  • "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, forthcoming, 2018).
  • "The Future is Superhuman: Nietzsche's Gift," in Yunus Tuncel (ed.), Nietzsche and Transhumanism (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017), pp. 70-83.
  • "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).
  • "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, forthcoming 2018).
  • "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.), Routledge Philosophy Great Minds: Nietzsche (Routledge, 2017, forthcoming).
  • (with Michael Ure), "Contra Kant: Experimental Ethics in Nietzsche and Guyau", in T. Bailey & J. Constancio, Nietzsche and Kantian Ethics (Bloomsbury Press, 2017), 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.


Professor of Philosophy
Office Hours:

Currently by appointment

MA Modules:

Nietzsche

Bergsonism

Deleuze and Philosophy: Empiricism and Naturalism

UG Modules:

Nietzsche in Context

Philosophy and the Good Life

KAP

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