The Ascetic Ideal and the Slave Revolt in Morality

There are many aspects in sociology, as well as in psychology, which helps individuals better understand how the frameworks for what is now accepted behavior and moral guides were established and created by the past, and by whom. One of the important aspects of this discussion involves the ascetic ideals, ressentiment, the nobles and the slaves, the slave morality and the slave revolt in morality. In this aspect, one of the most respected individuals who provided important insight for the discussion of this topic is Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche was a very popular German philosopher who devoted much of his professional time and career being involved in the discussion involving important aspects of morality and the noble and slave relationship, as well as the ascetic ideals and how it eventually affected the aforementioned aspects. There are those who criticized what Nietzsche has put forward, particularly the ideas he discussed involving the ideas of morality, how it is defined and how this controls humans through the close inspection of one’s self and through the direction of the accusing finger from outwards to inwards. Nietzsche’s ideas on the topic of slave revolt in morality carefully analysed by some; while others merely dispose it as something that does not fit the agreeable and convenient and comfortable understanding of the modern individual about the important aspects of morality and how the individual in his social position should be ascribed with his own set of attributes for this particular aspect. “Nietzsche’s unintended contributions to the moralization of the decadence are most obviously displayed in the Genealogy, a book in which he both documents and exemplifies the twisted psychology of the slave revolt in morality (Conway, 2002, p. 131).” Nonetheless, what Nietzsche had said about this topic has earned its rightful significance. Because of that, the further discussion of this topic is a significant endeavor to further clarify the ideas presented in this aspect.

What is the Ascetic Ideal?

The ascetic ideal can be taken differently, depending on the person’s outlook. It can be something grand that it can be life altering in the sense that one’s outlook in life may seriously change and the ascetic ideal showing that it can be powerful enough to provide someone with a significant life goal worth pursuing. While, on the other hand, it can be as insignificant as being plainly nothing more than a tool used by individuals and groups who, like the group they are trying to usurp, merely wanted control over the people by creating something from which control of the people can be possible.

Nietzsche provided an explanation on the meaning of the ascetic ideals and the differences of the meanings of the ascetic ideals, depending on the type of person the ascetic ideal will be applied to. He explained that the target individuals who will be affected by the ascetic ideals include artists, philosophers, priests and scholars, as well as women and those which Nietzsche described as someone who is “physiologically failed.” In common present term, physiologically failed is someone who is not physically capable to be superior against other people or against the ruling class, or someone who is not equipped physically with the power to fight against or even resist physically the attack on one’s self by the members of the higher status quo or higher social echelon (Nietzsche, 1998, p. 67). For each one of them, ascetic ideal mean something different, but largely something that can make them feel better about themselves by allowing the ability to create a condition inside one’s mind. The individual has the ability to fight the superior class or render victorious in its socio-political and socio-moral fight versus the ruling/noble class; often, the ascetic ideal falls to the idea that it is relegated to the mental or even spiritual state (Nietzsche, 1998, p. 67) of the individual where it resides and it is at its peak efficacy.

What Role does it play in the Slave Revolt in Morality?

The ascetic ideal plays an important role in the slave revolt morality because the ascetic ideal is the driving force behind the creation of the slave revolt in morality. Without the ascetic ideal to empower particular groups of people (particularly the leader in the form of the ascetic priests who was considered as responsible for reforming and re-evaluating morality and the definition of good and bad / good and evil in the society), the people, who follow these leaders (ascetic priests), would have not known the ideals, believes and set of behaviors that allowed for and at the same time a result of the slave revolt in morality.

The ascetic ideal, as explained earlier in the paper, influences different kinds of individuals and as an ideal is appreciated, exercised and consumed differently by different types of people. Nonetheless, these differences do not make the individuals feel the impact of the ascetic ideals differently through its manifestation and role in the slave revolt in morality. Although it is evident that in the analysis of the slave revolt in morality, often, the target of discussion is zeroed in on the ascetic ideals of the priests. In turn, the important role of the ascetic ideal of priests in the slave revolt in morality above the other types of ascetic ideals and the other individuals are affected and involved in this socio-cultural psychological and emotional revolution impacting the morality, behavior and social senses of the self and the relationship with other people (Craig, 1998, p. 854).

It is important to point out that in the battle for the creation of what should be the accepted morality by the people, the tug of war pitted the noble/soldiers versus the priests and the peaceful (Craig, 1998, p. 854). “To explain the origin of the good/evil [the specifically moral] mode of valuation, Nietzsche postulates a slave revolt in morality, a revaluation inspired by ressentiment [or]…grudge-laden resentment (Craig, 1998, p. 854).”

This happened because between the two lies what can be considered as irreconcilable differences in the idea of morality and is significant in the creation of what is known as slave revolt in morality (Schacht, 1994, p. 327). Even with the power in the society exercised by the nobles/soldier caste – the “ressentiment constitutive of slave moralities [which] were initially provided by the nobles (Schacht, 1994, p. 327).” The priests, at the onset of the rise of the socio-political power of religions like Judaism and Christianity, are, nonetheless, not fully rendered incapable and incapacitated by the noble/soldier caste. Brian Leiter (2002) noted about the fact that present then and now what is known as “the cunning of the priestly caste even within noble societies (Leiter, 2002, p. 286).”

This is important because as what critics and analysts points out, the ideals of ascetics, despite the fact that it targets and hits different kinds of persons, its most prominent figure is the ascetic ideal upon the priest (now ascetic priest), to whom the movement of the ascetic ideals (and its role in the slave revolt in morality) is largely and significantly hinged (Conway, 2002, p. 131). “Throughout his account of the genesis and ascendancy of the ascetic ideal, he unwittingly presents himself as a Doppelganger of the ascetic priest (Conway, 2002, p. 131).”

The ascetic ideal’s role in the slave revolt in morality is that it allowed slave revolt in morality to happen and to be more easily and/or conveniently embraced by a particular group of people (Conway, 2002, p. 131). To be able to truly identify the role of the ascetic ideal in the slave revolt in morality, it is important to point out the creation of ascetic ideal and how the ascetic ideal influenced or have had a role in the slave revolt in morality.

There is first the feeling of ressentiment of the slaves which created the idea of morality – the entry of asceticism ideals that helped explain the slave morality to the people and helped them understand the mental/spiritual and emotional aspects of the relationship of the noble/slaves in the society during that time and how the ascetic ideals, in the end, helped the different types of people to understand the angles on existentialism that they needed to embrace and understand for the slave revolt to be realized and be made possible in the first place (Leiter, 2002, p. 286). “The resentment of slaves and the internalized cruelty of civilized humans may have laid the foundation for morality, but it was the ability of asceticism to resolve the existential dilemma that ultimately accounted for the success of the slave revolt and the transformation of bad conscience into guilt (Leiter, 2002, p. 286).”

More so, the role of ascetic ideal (and particularly, the ascetic priest), is highlighted in the slave revolt in morality because the role of the ascetic priests was very significant in the salve revolt in morality taking place in the first place. It was because of the ascetic ideals among priests, who believe that the power of the combative soldiers and power all in all (as they see it among the ruling class nobles and soldiers), should be something that should be abhorred, ergo resulting in the slave revolt in morality. In the end, it was the priests, who was powered by the ascetic ideals, that was believed to be the leader behind the movement of the slave revolt in morality, and not the slaves as the name may imply (Craig, 1998, p. 854). “His postulated slave revolt was led not by slaves but by priests (Craig, 1998, p. 854).”

Conclusion

Despite what Nietzsche had said about the idea of morality and the feeling of the ascetic priests and how this contributed to the shaping of modern day attitude directed towards the religious institutions and the aristocratic and/or ruling and influential echelon side by side one another, what is clear is that this aspect is something that is still very much debatable. There are still many corners in this topic that hasn’t reached a full closure regarding the loose ends that came about after the problems springing up based from what Nietzsche postulated from his works. “Our concepts need clarification precisely because they are products of a complicated historical development. Different strands have been tied together into such a tight unity that they seem inseparable and are no longer visible as strands (Craig, 1998, p. 854).”

Still, it will always be educational to constantly pry open this issue that will never close. More so, with the fact that just like in the past, the position of the ruling class, the position of the religious and the noble groups and the outlook of the society may still change. This change may still affect, how the ascetic ideals and the slave revolt in morality, is viewed in the future. What is clear is that in one way or another the ascetic ideal has gained foothold among many individuals and groups in the society; later on, it has managed to become a significant influence in the slave revolt in morality.