Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil: Religious belief

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The ascetic ideal

  • christian faith has always meant sacrifice - freedom, pride, self-mutilation
  • Ns account of religious belief = closely linked to slave morality + revolt
  • prior to revolt pagan gods were based on qualities the aristocratic class saw and valued in themselves
  • with revolt god became reinterpreted as oposite of humans animal nature
  • goodness came from transcendent world + things in natural world especially out bodies and instinctual desires became sinful
  • christianity required sacrifice of animal instincts and wills - guilty in our nature
  • ascetic ideal denies value of our animal life looking for redemption in transcendent world
  • rejects bodily desires and praises life of spirit - complicates spirit setting our wills against themselves
  • what we naturally want and opposed to this the ideal of transcenging what we want
  • ascetic ideal spurs people on to become better & more developed spiritually
  • guilt and failure drives ever greater attempts at making amends for who one is -> cultural achievements and spiritual depth
  • original force and demands of christianity have faded
  • objection - God becoming human is seen as a validation of human nature as a good gift from god
  • N - how much christian teaching has celebrated the body in contrast which hasnt
  • historically most religions have incorperated an ideal of spiritual life that transcends and denigrates the body

The will to power in religion

  • ascetic ideal is paradoxical - opposes life and the will itself but all values are an expression of the will to power
  • spread of ascetic ideal originates in the slave revolt which began with the jewish prophets and continued with christianity
  • priests and saints were the first to have the ascetic ideal
  • priests dont have direct expressive will to power like the aristocrats therefore they resent their power and respect theyve gained
  • cant express this directly so teach that aristocratic values are evil and praise a life of poverty and self-denial
  • develop the idea of god to support this revaluation
  • aristocrats were amazed by phenomenon of the saint respecting the self-discipline involved in self-denial
  • made the mistake of thinking that the denial required by the ascetic ideal could not be for nothing so they became suceptible to the saints values
  • common people suffer physically and mentally through the ressentiment they feel towards the aristocrats
  • worse is the thought that their suffering…


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