Ascetic Ideals for Philosophers

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Ascetic Ideals for Philosophers and Nietzsche Critiques 1

Ascetic Ideals for Philosophers

Ascetic Ideals for Philosophers


Ascetic Ideals; a phrase that is used widely in different fields of philosophy, religion, art and even among the people believed to be week, helpless, sick and the powerless; has a wide scope of coverage. Its meaning is dependent on where is it applied. This essay addresses the meaning of ascetic ideal as used in philosophy, the critiques to the ideals by Nietzsche, and the qualities of the ideals.

Meaning of Ascetic Ideals

In philosophers’ perception, ascetic ideals do not define “a laudable will to contentment and simplicity,” it is somewhat defining conditions of its own desire to power (Janaway, 2007). According to Nietzsche, Genealogy, III, “every animal is a philosophical animal” cautiously making strides to attempts of gaining ideal factors that can allow him reach the feeling of power. In seeking for this, the “philosophical animal” tends to eliminate all possible objections to his endeavour of seeking power.

According to Phil 104, philosopher’s will to power over life uses “the chief energy” of “contemplation.” However, philosophers only use the “established type” of thinking over the possible outcome of the evil, and not the need of some of it action. This was established by the ascetic priest, and termed it as ascetic ideal of “contemplative man”, which according to them, “contemplative men were first despised for their ‘inactive, brooding, unwarlike’ character.” For this, contemplative men seek to recognized and even feared.

Therefore, it is arguably possible that ascetic ideals denial of will of political power, or even personalities that a person would long for. This comes as a result of self-denial claiming that will of power of the world such as political power, power over poverty and even fame, are characterised by hatred and sometimes vengeance which according to the ascetic of morality of doing good or evil, can only be avoided by self-denial (Nietzsche, Genealogy, III).

Ascetic Ideals for Philosophers

Philosopher ascetic of morals and others of its associated ideals tend to pretend in their opinions being pure when they are seeking reasons to justify for the “rarefied and abstract of their hearts’ desires” (Lacewing, n.d.). Philosophers tend to argue that in this world, it is either good or bad, moral or evil, true or false and they justify this by saying that, seeking or will of political power, fame, or even superiority in this world tend to bring bad and not good and therefore morally evil. Kant says that in a philosopher’s life, his will has precedent of rules, termed as the ascetic ideals of the philosophers, which guide them away from doing bad; which is reasonable to follow; but it only means that some actions are not permitted since some do not have precedent rules to guide them.

In Genealogy of Moral (III), the author suggests that philosophical life is defined by a life of “no action but contemplation”. According to this, philosophers believe that there is a much greater transcendent values of the mind of knowledge of good and goodness (wisdom) than the values of body and the world desires. According to Lacewing, this belief enable philosophers maximize their optimum feel of power over themselves and over others.

Nietzsche’s criticism of morality; Truth, Goodness, Altruism, Wisdom

Philosophical beliefs are known to rest on values of morals, an expression of power. However, this power is purported to the instincts of the philosophers expressing their will of power cautiously by creating their ideal conditions. In search for truth about the will to truth, Nietzsche outlines that the will of truth has its origin just as the other wills but it originates from self-denial.

Nietzsche has argue against the ascetic of morals as adopted by philosophers and priests posting a challenge to the exact truth that is there in their argument of value of mind desire and not body and world desires (Michael, 2013). Nietzsche identifies his two major grounds for criticising past philosophers in that: their theories are founded on “some play on world perhaps, some seductive aspect of grammar, or a daring generalization from very limited, very personal, very human, all-too-human facts.” According to Nietzsche, the metaphysician’s fundamental belief is the belief in the opposition of values, and the morality; goodness, truth, altruism and wisdom cannot have its origin in the opposite in this very slow, deceptive world.

Prinz (2007), argue that ascetic ideals of morality only looks at what is needed to be done denying the actual personalities of a person only to please what the will requires. Nietzsche also argues that the will of truth present itself as driven by its value alone but it is a set of value which only aims at protecting conditions in which philosophers live in to maximise their feeling of power (Lacewing). The need to feel the power over one’s self however prevents a person from living to his desires or personalities; furthermore, ascetic ideal of morality prevents us from being ourselves by defining and doing what our personalities would appreciate. According to Prinz, Nietzsche suggests that philosophers must recognise the necessities of hatred, envy, greed and anger when seeking for power or the optimum condition of feeling as defined by philosophers in their ascetic ideals.

Qualities of Ascetic Ideals for philosophers

Nietzsche argues that the morality that dominates Europe, practised by philosophers and religions, dominates the ethical outlook for so long that philosophers have come to accept that morality of good or evil is correct. According to Nietzsche, morality of good and evil blinds people from realising that there could be other values other that morality and this obstruct people from perusing their own goals and excellence, claiming that the morality with people today is ‘herd animal morality’ (BGE, 202). In addition, Kant’s argument about motives of moral of good and evil supports Nietzsche’s argument saying that the idea of morals of good and evil only tend to set a motive for philosophers; a motive which leads to a judgment of its own satisfaction and not to do by achieving the purported purpose.

According to Nietzsche’s critiques (Robertson, n.d.), : morality demands that philosophers comply with its ideals and duties irrespective of whether doing so conflicts with what is good for a philosopher’s personality; morality takes itself to apply to all people equally, so escaping morality when it conflicts with what is good for a philosopher; complying with morality can prevent a philosopher from realizing high excellences; morality requires that even the higher type of people comply with its demands regardless of whether doing do is conducive to expressing who a person is. This Nietzsche’s critique exposes philosophers how morality and its ideals prevent them from realizing what their personalities and need to peruse high excellence in them (Nietzsche’s Critique of Morality, n.d.). Morality should therefore be independently true of what philosophers and people at large think or want.


Ascetic ideals tend to seek for power over life through self-denial and optimum conditions that are only achieved when a person identifies his/her basic conditions towards the feeling of power over life. Philosophers rely on the belief that the desires of the mind are of values than the desires of the body and world. They claim that giving in to the desires of body and world bring hatred and vengeance among people, which is of no value to humanity.

However Nietzsche argue against this saying that philosophers do not define the exact origin or truth that comes with their perceived value of mind, saying that, is denying themselves of the will of power and other body desire, they portray that power. Philosopher should therefore engage in ascetic ideal that are independently true and allow philosophers to pursue their excellence according to their personalities and needs rather than tie themselves down to ideals that blind and prevent them from such.

Reference List

Janaway, C. 2007. Beyond Selfness: Reading Nietzsche’s Genealogy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Prinz, J. 2007. The Emotional Construction of Morals. New York: Oxford University Press.

Michael, L. 2013. RoutLedge:Nietzsche’s critique of past philosophers. Available from www.glevephilosophy/ [2016].

Michael, L. 2015. RoutLedge: Nietzsche’s critique of new philosophers. Available from www.glevephilosophy/ [2016]

Michael, T. 1995. A Vision of Nature: Traces of the Original World. Kent State University Press.

Ronald, F. 1983. The Nature and Purpose of the Ascetic Ideals. Kandy; Sri Lanka: The Wheel Publications.

Lacewing, M. n.d. Nietzsche’s Critiques on Free Will, the Creation of Values, and Well-Ordered Soul.

Robertson, S. n.d. The Disvalues of Morality: Nietzsche’s Critique of Morality Available from

May, S. 1999. Nietzsche’s Ethics and his ‘War on Morality’. Oxford: Oxford press

Kaufimann, W. 1974. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. Princeton: Princeton University press.