In Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morality, what are the origins of the ascetic ideal?



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Nietzsche argues that the ascetic ideal in modern times stems from priests, who exploited guilt to augment their power. Part of the third essay of On the Genealogy of Morality is devoted to attempting to reveal "what end is served by the temporary tyranny of such paradoxical and sophistical concepts as guilt, sin or sinfulness, perdition, damnation." Hand in hand with the ascetic ideal, which Nietzsche describes as fundamentally life-negating, is the creation of the concept of sin and the sinner. But Nietzsche argues that the ascetic ideal goes deeper than this essentially political foundation. He claims that it is rooted in our psychology, in a herd mentality, or more accurately, morality, that tends to vilify the strong and the powerful and seek to bring them back to the pack, so to speak. Thus the weak were able to impose a morality on the strong, and priests were there to exploit it.


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