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Lecture 8 (Wk 23): OGM, The Third Essay (I) Nietzsche (PY432) Matt Bennett.

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture 8 (Wk 23): OGM, The Third Essay (I) Nietzsche (PY432) Matt Bennett."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture 8 (Wk 23): OGM, The Third Essay (I) Nietzsche (PY432) Matt Bennett

2 Last week Is all conscience “bad conscience”? –The conscience of the sovereign individual What kind of history is Nietzsche’s genealogy? –The will to power –A will to power history

3 This week What is the ascetic ideal? What motivates asceticism? Asceticism and nihilism – why does Nietzsche think morality is nihilistic? (if we have time)

4 Genealogy of Moral Phenomena First essay – good/evil Second essay – conscience Third essay – asceticism The ascetic life –Abstinence from worldly pleasures –Chastity –Poverty (relinquishing worldly possessions) –Strongly regulated diet (e.g. fasting) The ascetic ideal –Asceticism as the ideal life

5 Self-denial Asceticism is a species of the morality of self- denial N appears to have broader issues at stake in his account of asceticism –Valuing unegoistic action –Self-lessness –Self-sacrifice –Altruism The general principle of morality at stake: –Being moral means considering the needs and interests of others over one’s own

6 Christian asceticism N clearly has the Christian ideal of asceticism in his sights –On luxury and diet – Matthew 3:4 –On family: Luke 14: –Think e.g. lent But Nietzsche does not think the ascetic ideal is exclusive to Christianity

7 Artists and philosophers Wagner –Praised in Nietzsche’s early work –Rejected in later work (too Christian) –Parsifal accused of lauding the ascetic ideal (OGM III 3) Schopenhauer –Aesthetics: beauty valuable for denying self-interest –Though for Nietzsche, Schopenhauer’s aesthetics are ironically self-interested (OGM III 6) –Ethical thought: best to renounce the will

8 Ascetic philosophers Ascetic philosophers = anti-sensuous philosophers Idealism –E.g. Schopenhauer, Platonism (not e.g. Berkeleyean) –Senses not to be trusted Transcendental idealism –Empirical realm divorced from extra-sensuous “reality”

9 Ascetic priest Purest expression of the ascetic ideal (OGM III 11) Denigrates not just individual sensuous pleasures, but life as such (OGM III 11) This life is not valuable – value lies “elsewhere” If life is valueless, practice withdrawal from life (sensuous pleasure) as much as possible (But why not just kill ourselves? We’ll see in a moment)

10 What motivates asceticism? Whether an artist, philosopher, or priest, we value asceticism because we suffer from life We suffer from life because we are incapable of meeting any goals we set for ourselves –Exhaustion –Weakness –Impotence In other words, this suffering is due to an inability to live a meaningful life Asceticism is motivated by a need to break free from the torture of frustrated desires and aspirations (OGM III 6)

11 Asceticism – making suffering bearable N describes the ascetic priest as a doctor for the sick (OGM III 15) But this doctor’s work is not to cure, but a kind of palliative care – relieve or ease pain, make suffering bearable –E.g. mechanical activity (OGM III 18) –E.g. “excess feeling” – self-torture (OGM III 20) –E.g. helping others (OGM III 18) – the meaning of altruism For the ascetic priest, asceticism is a form of anaesthetic

12 Asceticism – making suffering an ideal The ascetic priest not only anesthetises, but also makes suffering a virtue The ascetic ideal turns the impotence of the sick into an ideal Thus – the incapacity to live up to any other ideals is turned into an ideal itself This preserves the lives of those who are sick – turning their form of life from incapacity to virtue (cf. the slave revolt)

13 What’s wrong with asceticism? N’s is a psychological critique –His account identifies a shameful motivation for the ascetic ideal (compare the ressentiment psychology of slave values) But the dangers of asceticism are more severe The ascetic ideal is a nihilistic ideal – and thus has a role to play in the problem of modern nihilism

14 Asceticism and nihilism Early in the course we raised the question: why does N think that morality is nihilistic? Recall that in lecture 2 we also saw two forms of nihilism –Nihilistic culture – the lack of orienting values –Nihilistic values – values that denigrate our lives and the world in which we live The 3rd essay claims that asceticism is a form of value nihilism – this world has no value, and value lies “elsewhere” (see e.g. John 18:36)

15 Asceticism and nihilism In this sense, N thinks the real danger of the ascetic ideal is that it is nihilistic This nihilism (as we saw earlier in the course) leads to the absence of value altogether –Value deferred to a transcendent realm –This transcendent realm undermined when God dies –Left with a world that we take to be valueless, with no hope for redemption What is the alternative? Topic for next week

16 Next week Re-Read: –The third essay (On the Genealogy of Morality) especially section 23-28


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