Not sure how I came across this substack but great read and followed.

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Jan 20·edited Jan 22Liked by The Living Philosophy

"The Ascetic Ideal draws us away from this world. Fasting, chastity, simplicity, renunciation — these pillars of the Ascetic Ideal take us away from life. They cut us off from the richness of the human experience."

One of the ironies here (which I'm sure the author is aware of) is that few people best exemplified the ascetic ideal more than Friedrich Nietzsche. No wife, children, job, little contact with family and friends (esp as he aged), an almost-complete withdrawal from the world to concentrate on his brilliant work. He was essentially a meek and kind virgin who wouldn't hurt a flea (or horse). I think in one of the Italian towns he lived they called him "the Little Saint".

In all these arguments the labels and classifications often oversimplify and the blurry edges get erased. I'm sure many of the writers and thinkers we love were some combo of both Dionysian and Ascetic: even wordly men like Wilde and Whitman had their moments of escape and contemplation, certainly Tolstoy was famously both, and as far as the Taoists being immersed in the world, there is also Chuang Tzu's wandering on the way, rambling and roaming, but never being foolish enough to get embroiled in human conflicts.

I don't always necessarily think that things like "Fasting, chastity, simplicity, renunciation" take us away from life, in my own experience they can also show people another way to live, so even if they don't become monks they at least learn to separate a bit from our modern rat race. In this way, I think ascetics do offer much to the world, at the very least just suggesting to people that they pull their eyes from their phones long enough to contemplate eternity.

Ideally we can be a little of both, or more likely, as a passionate Dionysian ages they mellow into a wise and kind ascetic.

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Hmm, there basically is a lot of potential for a new sort of spirituality in Nietzsche but it seems it hasn't been tapped? Unless you want to count Hitler and the Nazis as an example.

Maybe someone needs to deliver a Nietzschean Sermon on the Mount, unless Nietzsche himself did that? From what I know of his stuff it all seems too esoteric next to the Sermon.

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