Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘ascetic

Part 1. “The Ideological Analysis of Christianism in reply to  Nietzsche’s position”, by Aida Ghoussoub (April 5, 2009)

 

Note: Aida Ghoussoub wrote this French Doctorate thesis in 1984 at the Sorbonne. I found it well thought out to summarize her thesis and discuss it as an extension to my six articles on Nietzsche’s Philosopher of Life.  The first part is about the author and why she worked on Nietzsche; the second part will deal with the analysis proper.

 

            Aida Ghoussoub was a nun of the Christian Maronite sect before the civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1975; she had a bright mind too.  As the war dragged on, her religious institution took side in the conflict and showed its ugly face of intolerance and barbarism.  Aida repudiated her formal oath of blind obedience to the institution in order to follow her conscience and the true message of Jesus.  Aida was studying at the French faculty in Lebanon when the French government decided to temporarily close down the university; she immigrated to Paris and resumed her study in philosophy.

            Initially, the author contemplated a comparative study between Nietzsche’s ascetic ideal and the corresponding Maronite ascetic ideal.  (The Maronite constituted since the 6th century a structured social and religious institution oriented mostly toward ascetic life).  This project was out the window because the author had no access to Maronite manuscripts stored in monasteries during the war.  Christianism is an important topic in the author’s life and she admits that Christianity, even in secular societies, is permanently pervasive at all levels in the social fabrics from government, political decisions, education, and moral values; thus, Christianism is an ideology. Nietzsche has sensed the “bad taste” attitude of the sacerdotal caste to always view any opinion or position as an attack at its theology. It turned out that Nietzsche didn’t directly criticize Christianism from an ideological perspective, a void that the author considered worth investigating.

            But why study Nietzsche?  The author had to read Plato, Descartes, Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer, but Nietzsche was an aggressive and affirmative philosopher, an active philosopher who wanted to change. He wrote: “A snake has to change its skin to survive.  The same goes to spirits: if free expression of opinions is usurped, then spirits die. Thinking in the active is to think against time, on the time, and in favor of the future time.” It is in the nature of man to be spiritual and to endeavor in the constant process of re-invention of the self.

  

Nietzsche interrogated on the every day realities of existence, and how man struggle with life day in, day out. Nietzsche wrote “Would you like to deal with fundamental problems on the salvation of humanity, God, immortality, and destiny after death? That is fine and dandy, commendable, and merit due reflection. As you are dealing with these abstract notions, I have a few questions to ask: How do you live with your body? What do you drink in the morning? How do you nourish your body? How do you relax? What are you work patterns? Are you aware of the climate that most suits you?  Don’t you think that all these little details turn out to be, in fact, more important to you? Are not these little details more exigent in rigor and of immediate nature than far-fetched concepts?”

            It must have been a lonely, silent, and daunting project for Aida, grappling with conditions of earning a living in Paris and constantly worried about the consequences of the civil war raging in her country.  However, the author took the warning of Nietzsche at heart: “Philosophy demands of its admirer to step aside, take time, learn silence, becoming slow in reading, profoundly, cautiously looking behind, ahead of oneself, with after thoughts, and eyes wide open.  That is why philosophy is more necessary today than at any other periods, because the kinds of work-habit and the frenzy required to finish with a task or a job is totally indecent in its demands”   

            The author was challenged in tackling Nietzsche’s train of thoughts: Nietzsche is the type who meditates, ruminates at great length, continuously transcribes his reflections and intentions, and answers his own and other philosophers’ queries. Nietzsche steps back from polemics and anticipate the future. It is difficult to interpret his mood swings, the situations that drive his aggressiveness and then his conciliating moments.

Note: I published “Is religion bunk? Case of Byzantium Empire” as a continuation of my review of Aida Ghoussoub’s thesis.


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