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Andrew Huddleston

Reader in Philosophy 

Email: a.huddleston@bbk.ac.uk

Before coming to Birkbeck in September 2014, Andrew Huddleston taught at Oxford, where he was a Fellow of Exeter College. He studied as an undergraduate at Brown University and at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He then did his doctoral work at Princeton University, where he wrote a dissertation on Nietzsche under the supervision of Alexander Nehamas.

achuddleston.com

Andrew on the 'Religion of Art' in a Secular Age'

Research Activity

  • My main research interests are in the history of post-Kantian philosophy (esp. Nietzsche; also German Idealism, Early German Romanticism, and the Frankfurt School) as well as in aesthetics, social philosophy, and ethics.
  • My recent book Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2019) focused on Nietzsche's social philosophy. The standard story about Nietzsche’s philosophical development is that after first reposing his hopes in a broader culture, he, in his later work, came to occupy himself instead with the fate of a few great individuals only. I questioned this individualist reading that has become prevalent, and I developed an alternative reading of Nietzsche as a more social thinker, who sees collective cultural excellence as no less important. I used Nietzsche’s perfectionistic ideal of a flourishing culture, and his diagnostics of cultural malaise, as a point of departure for reconsidering many of the central themes in his ethics and social philosophy, as well as for understanding the interconnections with the form of cultural criticism that was part and parcel of his distinctive philosophical enterprise.
  • In parallel, I have, and have had, a number of stand-alone pieces (published or forthcoming in journals and in edited volumes) on other aspects of Nietzsche's work, and have papers in progress on other figures in the post-Kantian tradition, as well as in aesthetics. I presently am working on papers on topics such as: the moral psychology of ressentiment; narratives of decadence in the post-Kantian period; the influence of German idealism on Schopenhauer; Nietzsche's aesthetics; and Proust's treatment of death.
  • My next book project, Art's Highest Calling: The Religion of Art in a Secular Age, combines my interests in post-Kantian philosophy and aesthetics. I undertake an investigation of an important theme in European aesthetics, from the late 18th century to the 20th century: namely, the idea that art might be a kind of religious substitute. During this heady time of aesthetic theorizing, increasingly ambitious claims get made for art’s metaphysical and spiritual importance, especially in the vacuum the "death of God" leaves behind. Art seeks to take on tasks such as: putting us in touch with ultimate metaphysics; giving us a sense of the sacred; granting salvation in some existentially-significant way; orienting us in a ethical landscape; affording a framework of meaning to human life by situating it in a broader narrative or by encouraging devotion to the values thought to be preeminent; reinforcing the ties of community and rootedness; and offering consolation in the face of suffering, death, and despair.  In one form or another, many key thinkers in this strand of thought have the idea that the best art is, if not a full replacement for religion, then in the same fundamental business. My study has an historical and a conceptual dimension: It explores the ways in which art has been presented (implicitly or explicitly) as a religious substitute, and it sheds light on what this was supposed to amount to.

Publications

  • My publications include a recent monograph:
    • Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2019)
  • And a number of papers:
    • “Affirmation, Admirable Overvaluation, and the Eternal Recurrence,” Nietzsche on Morality and Affirmation, ed. Daniel Came (Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2020).
    • "Adorno's Aesthetic Model of Social Critique," Blackwell Companion to Adorno, ed. Espen Hammer, Peter Gordon, and Max Pensky (Blackwell, forthcoming 2020).
    • “Nietzsche on Nihilism: A Unifying Thread,” in Philosophers’ Imprint 19:11 2019
    • "Nietzsche on Magnanimity, Greatness and Greatness of Soul," in The Measure of Greatness: Philosophers on Magnanimity, ed. Sophia Vasalou (Oxford University Press, 2019).
    • “Nietzsche” in Blackwell Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy, ed. J.A. Shand (Blackwell, 2019).
    • “Against ‘Egypticism’: Nietzsche on Understanding and ‘Defining’ Concepts,” Routledge Philosophy Minds: Nietzsche, ed. Paul Katsafanas (Routledge, 2018).
    • “Why and (How) We Read Nietzsche,” Journal of Nietzsche Studies 49:2 (2018)
    • “Nietzsche on the Health of the Soul,” Inquiry 60:2 (2017), p. 135-164.
    • “Nietzsche and the Hope of Normative Convergence,” Does Anything Really Matter? Parfit on Objectivity, ed. Peter Singer (Oxford University Press, 2017).
    • “Normativity and the Will to Power: Challenges for a Nietzschean Constitutivism,” Journal of Nietzsche Studies 47:3 (2016), p. 435-456.
    • “Kunstreligion Redeemed: From Religion to Art in Parsifal,” Nietzsche und Wagner: Perspektiven ihrer Auseinandersetzung, ed. Jutta Georg and Renate Reschke (de Gruyter, 2016).
    • “What is Enshrined in Morality?: Understanding the Grounds for Nietzsche’s Critique,” Inquiry 58:3 (2015), p. 281-307.
    • “Hegel on Comedy: Theodicy, Social Criticism, and the ‘Supreme Task’ of Art,” British Journal of Aesthetics 54:2 (2014), p. 227-40.
    • “Consecration to Culture’: Nietzsche on Slavery and Human Dignity,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 52:1 (2014), p. 135-160.
    • “Nietzsche’s Meta-axiology: Against the Sceptical Readings,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22:2 (2014), p.322-43
    • “The Conversation Argument for Actual Intentionalism,” British Journal of Aesthetics 52:3 (2012), p. 241-256.
    • “Naughty Beliefs,” Philosophical Studies 160:2 (2012), p. 209-222
    • “In Defense of Artistic Value,” Philosophical Quarterly 62:249 (2012), p. 705-714.
  • A complete list of publications and CV are available here: https://birkbeck.academia.edu/AndrewHuddleston

Research supervision

    Andrew is happy to supervise research students wanting to work on Nietzsche or on Aesthetics. He would also be willing to supervise students on certain other figures in Post-Kantian philosophy (particularly Hegel or Adorno), as well as on topics in ethics. Those with further questions should feel free to email him.