Meaning of Asceticism (What it is, Concept and Definition)

What is Asceticism:

As asceticism is called an attitude and a way of life whose object is the moral and spiritual perfection of the human being through the renunciation of pleasures and the practice of an austere life.

In this sense, the ascetic assumes a lifestyle in which he dispenses with material comforts and luxuries, renounces satisfying the needs of the body and seeks to tame the passions of the spirit. Thus, the ascetic seeks to cultivate only the paths of the spirit. Hence asceticism is considered a mystical doctrine and has been adopted by multiple religions in the world, such as Christianity, Buddhism or Islam.

As such, practices historically linked to asceticism are celibacy, referring to carnal avoidance, and fasting, which refers to abstinence from food. Likewise, asceticism can involve a withdrawal from the world, to lead a secluded life, in the cultivation of the spirit.

The word, as such, comes from the Greek ἀσκητής (asketés), which means ‘professional’, ‘athlete’. In this sense, it was associated with any form of discipline or practical philosophy. Originally, it referred to the Greek warriors and athletes who used this type of discipline to lead a sparing, regulated and sacrificial life.

Asceticism in Philosophy

For philosophy, asceticism is a moral doctrine whose objective is to achieve spiritual and moral perfection through the practice of renunciation of pleasures and the satisfaction of the needs of the body. Some systems of thought related to asceticism are stoicism and the cynicismwho strove, like the ascetics, to master the desires and passions that disturbed the spirit and separated man from virtue.

See also Stoicism and Cynicism.

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