Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Various Authors on Ascetism:

Revilo P Oliver:
'The rejection of life, however, becomes a cowardly evasion when a perverse superstition enjoins it as a means of appeasing or pleasing a god whom we must believe, by an act of faith, to have promised that if we frustrate every instinct of healthy men and women, he will reward us after death with a blissful life of eternal idleness, which, by an even greater miracle, he will somehow prevent from becoming an infinity of boredom. If we abstain from sexual intercourse to avoid inflicting on others the curse of life and all its miseries, we are behaving rationally and even nobly, if the premise is correct; but if we frustrate our normal desires to please the caprice of a god who presumably endowed us with our instincts to inflict on us the pain of frustrating them to avoid being tortured by him eternally - a god, moreover, who is not even generous enough to help mankind to a speedy extinction, but wants it to reproduce itself and to preserve even its tares and monsters to provide his consecrated dervishes with plenty of business - we have become the cringing slaves of a mad master.'

Source: Oliver R 'The Origins of Christianity', [online] http://www.revilo-oliver.com/rpo/RPO_NewChrist/chap12.htm

Otto Weininger:
'Asceticism, which would regard pleasure in itself as immoral, is itself immoral, inasmuch as it attributes immorality to an action because of the external consequences of it, not because of immorality in the thing itself; it is the imposition of an alien, not an inherent law. A man may seek pleasure, he may strive to make his life easier and more pleasant; but he must not sacrifice a moral law. Asceticism attempts to make man moral by self-repression and will give him credit and praise for morality simply because he has denied himself certain things.  Asceticism must be rejected from the point of view of ethics and of psychology inasmuch as it makes virtue the effect of a cause, and not the thing itself.  Asceticism is a dangerous although attractive guide; since pleasure is one of the chief things that beguile men from the higher path, it is easy to suppose that its mere abandonment is meritorious.

Source: Weininger S (1906). 'Sex and Character', William Heinemann, London.

The Authors View:
Standing in opposition to a thing causes you to do nothing but face it endlessly.  After time this causes tension, which manifests itself in the individual as neuroses.  A classic example that I have seen on one of Derren Brown's television programmes: the clip was located in a room with a member of the public, and that person was told that they could have X thousand pounds cash, so long as they didn't press a red button.  If they pressed the red button then a glass cage, containing a furry kitten, would be filled with lethal gas and thus killed.  The individual was given orange squash (which is a common child drink) to induce a child like mentality.  There was also a clock which counted down the minute or so that the individual had to refrain from pushing a red button.  There may have been other props designed to increase tension and induce a child like (absent/retarded) state of mind, which I cannot recall.

The tension created by the 'law' (in this case dictated by Derren Brown): The tension was based entirely on not pushing the red button (and every second that the clock ticked increased the tension), therefore the individual had no choice but to press the button, for it was the only way that they could displace the tension.  Now tension this tension is similar to neurosis, which according to Pavlov is:  'the stress induced when a single stimulus evokes two or more responses.'.  Although this isn't quite what the aforementioned situation involving Derren Brown was, it is similar to it, and has a similar effect on the individual: Under times of heightened stress, the individual is more likely to break the rules which tell them: 'do not do X', simply because once the law has been broken, they no longer have to endure the possibility of existing in two mental states/conditions (or, in other words, actually exist in one state but 'could' possibly exist in another state).

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