Within the wider context of modern intellectual history, Emden’s research is mainly concerned with varieties of political realism, especially as they focus on the relationship between active political citizenship and the demands of the modern state, and he is also interested in postnational manifestations of political citizenship. A second line of inquiry is concerned with the emergence of normativity and the conditions of normative order. This approach often links recent discussions in philosophical naturalism to central issues in political theory and the history of political thought.
He has published books and articles on Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin’s archaeology of modernity, on Georg Simmel and the political economy of money, Max Weber’s and Carl Schmitt’s political realism, Jürgen Habermas’s conception of the modern state, modern constitutionalism, postnational citizenship, German idealism, and the nineteenth-century life sciences. Currently, he is finishing a longer book project on philosophical nihilism in modern European political thought from the eighteenth century to the present. A second book project is focused on the writings of Hannah Arendt and their relationship to visions of American Empire.
Nietzsche's Naturalism: Philosophy and the Life Sciences in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). Paperback edition 2011. Turkish translation 2013. Chinese translation forthcoming in 2020.
Walter Benjamins Archäologie der Moderne: Kulturwissenschaft um 1930 (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2006).
Nietzsche on Language, Consciousness, and the Body (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2005).
Ed. with Uwe Steiner and Martin Vöhler, Humanism and Revolution: The Eighteenth Century and Its Transatlantic Legacy (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 2015).
Ed. with David Midgley, Beyond Habermas: Democracy, Knowledge, and the Public Sphere (New York: Berghahn, 2012).
“Romanticizing the Republic: Hannah Arendt on Freedom, Rights, and the Modern State,” in Kei Hiruta (ed.), Arendt on Freedom, Liberation, and Revolution (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 79-113.
“Nihilism, Pessimism, and the Conditions of Modernity,” in Warren Breckman and Peter E. Gordon (eds.), The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), vol. I, 372-97.
“Nietzsche, Truth, and Naturalism,” in Tom Stern (ed.), The New Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 273-301.
“Nietzsches Katharsis: Von der Tragödientheorie zur Anthropologie der Macht,” Nietzsche-Studien 47 (2018), 1-48.
“Normativity Matters: Philosophical Naturalism and Political Theory,” in Sarah Ellenzweig and John H. Zammito (eds.), The New Politics of Materialism: History, Philosophy, Science (New York: Routledge, 2017), 269-99.
"Nietzsche's Will to Power: Biology, Naturalism, and Normativity," Journal of Nietzsche Studies 47 (2016), 30-60.
"Die Normativität des Kapitals: Zur politischen Aktualität von Georg Simmels Philosophie des Geldes," Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie 9 (2015), 179-205.
"Postnational Constellations? Political Citizenship and the Modern State," in Robert Nichols and Jakeet Singh (eds.), Freedom and Democracy in an Imperial Context: Dialogues with James Tully (London: Routledge, 2014), 121-43.
"Land, Race, and Citizenship: The Political Spaces of Monumentalism in South Africa," Anglia 131/2-3 (2013), 1-40.