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PHL lecture, mar. 6.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Peter King

Nietzsche: Ascetic Ideals • Genealogy 3 Nietzsche puts it all together: the slave revolt, the feeling of ressentiment, and the emergence of “modern” morality, with its (postmodern?) possibility of transcendence o Key?  Ascetic ideals • Forms of self-denial held up as moral ideals • Humans became psychologically complex once fear of punishment prevented aggressive impulses from being released o This activity of inhibition, or, when more successful, repression, contains the germ of (reflexive) self-awareness  It is by monitoring and channelling these impulses that a rudimentary form of self-awareness begins to be developed o How do we move from this primitive conception of ourselves as moral subjects to being ready to evaluate all our values?  Development comes about because “the ascetic priest alters the direction of ressentiment” • The artist (2-6) • The philosopher (6-10) • The scientist (22-24) • The historian (25-26) • What unites these disciplines is that each makes some claim to be interested in the truth for its own sake, to be fundamentally disinterested • Real hero the “ascetic priest” (11-20) o The religious figure who preaches as a higher and better condition of life some form of asceticism o Christian phenomenon • Many ways in which forms of renunciation and self denial are held up as ideals o The mendicant virtues of “poverty, humility, chastity” (8) o Isn’t the fact of these ideas as much as their social-cum-psychological effect  Ascetic ideals provide ressentiment with a target: oneself  The blocked up aggressive impulses that are not allowed release in the first instance are directed against the knightly/aristocratic class in the imagination • As a sublimated wish-fulfillment  But imaginary revenge is not ultimately satisfying any more than imaginary food to a starving man  Ascetic priest provides such resentment with a real and reachable target:
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