The Philosopher in Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality.

It has always seemed to me that, in the third treatise of Toward the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche spoke favourably of the ascetic ideal in relation to the philosopher—in fact, to “all great, prolific, inventive spirits” (section 8). In the context mentioned he’s speaking of “the three great catchphrases of the ascetic ideal”: “poverty, humility, and chastity” (ibid.). And in Beyond Good and Evil (to which the Genealogy is a sequel), he speaks of the tendency of cynics to view man “as a belly with two different requirements, and a head with one” (i.e., to view “hunger, sexual desire, and vanity as the real and only motives of human actions”) (section 26). May we make the following connections?

hunger - poverty (- princes*)
sexual desire - chastity (- women*)
humility - vanity (- fame*)

*“We can recognize a philosopher by the following: he walks away from three glittering and garish things—fame, princes, and women.” (GM III, 8.)

Vanity and pride are poles, just as weakness and strength are poles: “weakness” is just a relative absence of strength; likewise, “vanity” is just a relative absence, a relatively low degree, of pride.

According to Laurence Lampert, however (in his ‘Nietzsche’s Teaching’), Zarathustra seeks something above pride, even: namely, victory. Could this mean Nietzsche/Zarathustra is favourably disposed toward the ascetic ideal, or at least the three catchphrases of the ascetic ideal, where they represent “sacrifices” for the sake of something higher? The spirituality of by far the most men, not just “the average man” but also the cynic (BGE 26) may be vanity or pride; but the spirituality of the “fewest”, “the most spiritual men” (AC 57), may be something higher.

And of course sexual desire, physically the lowest of the three motivations of man recognised by the cynic, is not the most basic form of what drives all life: the will to power. So from below to above, we have:

the will to power;
sexual desire;
the most spiritual will to power: philosophy (BGE 9).

(Note that this order does not exclude possible intermediaries.)

Hello Sauwelios:

— May we make the following connections?
hunger - poverty (- princes*)
sexual desire - chastity (- women*)
humility - vanity (- fame*)
O- The last two are opposites (vanity, humility, then sexual desire and chastity), but hunger and poverty seem to be at the same end of the spectrum: It is the poor that hungers. Rather than hunger you might want to consider “wealth” as a more suitable opposite to “poverty”.

— Vanity and pride are poles, just as weakness and strength are poles: “weakness” is just a relative absence of strength; likewise, “vanity” is just a relative absence, a relatively low degree, of pride.
O- I would have thought that vanity is a relative abundance of pride, not it’s absence.

You do seem to have understood me, but the thing is that “poverty” here means voluntary poverty. “Wealth” does not correspond with “chastity”; it would correspond with “a rich sex life”.

Well, I said “relative absence”. Perhaps I should have written “relative lack” instead. In any case, what I mean is this:

To be vain is not a positive thing. The vain man gets his self-confidence (if any) from others; whereas the proud man gets it for himself.

I think I remember Nietzsche speaking out against humility several times, regarding it as just another form of vanity. Then humility is not the opposite of vanity, but rather a specific form of vanity, e.g. desperately trying to not show vanity is vain. Though this seems correct, I think, and maybe Nietzsche did too, there is a more true form of humility where one actually beliefs it and doesn’t have to act humble.

You have a point, but I think it misses out on what’s important in this context. The humility of the philosopher (in the Genealogy) does not spring from a preoccupation with humility and/or its opposite, but from a preoccupation with something else, something higher.

[size=95]When stepped on, a worm doubles up. That is clever. In that way he lessens the probability of being stepped on again. In the language of morality: humility.—
[Twilight of the Idols, Maxim or Arrow 31, entire.][/size]

The worm doubles up for the sake of the preservation of himself and his genes (these correspond to hunger and sexual desire, respectively)—that is, he sacrifices the possibility of fulfilling the highest of the three needs recognised by the cynic, for the sake of preserving the possibility of fulfilling the two more basic ones (and some animals may even sacrifice themselves for their offspring, i.e., again the fulfillment of the higher need for that of the more basic need).

The philosopher chooses a life of relative chastity, poverty, and humility for the sake of the fulfillment of an even higher need than pride.

By the way, the philosopher need not first be “stepped on” in order to become humble:

[size=95]Every artist knows how damaging the effects of sexual intercourse are to states of great spiritual tension and preparation. The most powerful and most instinctual artists don’t acquire this knowledge primarily by experience, by bad experience—it’s that “maternal instinct” of theirs which here ruthlessly avails itself of all the other stores and supplies of energy, of animal vitality, for the benefit of the developing work. The greater power then uses up the lesser.
[Genealogy III, 8.][/size]

Hello Sauwelios:

— You do seem to have understood me, but the thing is that “poverty” here means voluntary poverty. “Wealth” does not correspond with “chastity”; it would correspond with “a rich sex life”.
O- You did not get me right. I didn’t mean that “wealth” corresponds with chastity.
Look at what you had before:
sexual desire - chastity. That is an opposition.
humility - vanity. Another pair of opposites.
hunger - poverty. Even if it is voluntary poverty, the polar opposite would be wealth, voluntary or involuntary. Here Siddhartha Gautama, who is a model ascetic and who voluntarily abandoned his princehood and wealth. Now you might be saying that vanity, sexual desire stand on a polar end and chastity and humility at a different end, with “wealth” suited to stand with the former pair rather than the second. No problem there, I agree because in fact that was my point. I just don’t find space in your scheme for “hunger”. Otherwise I follow you so far.

— The vain man gets his self-confidence (if any) from others; whereas the proud man gets it for himself.
O- Well if you put it that way, though I would not likely put “pride” and “humility” that close to one another regardless of the refinement of the definition you can give it. In Kaufmann’s translation, section 8, Nietzsche may have meant to say:
“It is quite possible that their dominating spirituality had first to put a check on an unrestrained and irritable pride or a wanton sensuality.”
As I see it “pride” is describe here as an irritation to the ascetic in the same category as sensuality. Again, I know that you take “pride” as self-generated, which would coincide with what Nietzsche calls “their motto”, again going with Kaufmann: “he who possesses is possessed”.
Now I think that Nietzsche did not consider “pride” as a necessity for the ascetic who he linked more often to a voluntary madman.
Anyway, I am interested as to where you mean to take this argument.

yes, if you want to set up a dichotomous system of evaluation for interpreting Nietzsche’s view on asceticism, then we could certainly say that Nietzsche was “favorable” of the ascetic ideals. however, its not really that simple, as Nietzsche rejected the idea that embracing asceticism was some sort of virtue for philosophers. “what do they have to do with virtues?”, to paraphrase a line from GM III with regard to this.

Nietzsche didnt think that the ascetic ideals were something which the philosopher or man of great intellect consciously embraced because he thought they were valuable or even necessary-- he didnt think we should seek asceticism; on the contrary, the ascetic ideals were simply a consequence of the philosophers “greatest Will”, his most “domineering spirit” which is his relentless drive to knowledge/enlightenment/serenity… the ascetic ideals are a natural prerequisite to the state of attaining knowledge and peace with onesself and life (e.g. separation from the distraction and chaos of social life), and therefore the philosopher will seek them out naturally, without the need to “justify” them as “better” or desirable (its not a question of his desire for ascetic ideals; they are merely those conditions which he naturally and instinctively gravitates to), and usually even at the expense of other desires he might have, such as for “luxury”.

it is this domineering spirit which defines the philosopher, and this spirit will naturally drive the philosopher to seek degrees of asceticism, as well as itself be the consequence of attaining a degree of asceticism… in otherwords, the domineering spirit, where it is sufficiently strong and holds dominion over the other wills, needs ascetic conditions to flourish, and therefore will guide the philosopher, as his dominant Will, to such conditions as it can best or most greatly express itself.

…however, its also not that simple, since near the end of GM III you see that Nietzsche speaks of asceticism as an expression of the will to truth, which itself is merely a ‘higher’ manifestation of a fundamental will to nothingness (see also BGE)-- to the extent that ascetic ideals are derived from such a will to truth, as Nietzsche seems to be implying they are (perhaps not all the time, but at least most) they represent a falsehood, an empty ideal, a nothingness, which the philosopher is merely a container used to transport the damaged and immature human Will across generations, willing false ideals and nothingnesses so that it not perish, and so that one day the Will may learn to will that which is higher, real, valuable… that the ascetic ideals in this sense, while “favorable”, are favorable in a similar sense as the religious or metaphysical or scientific ideals, in that they are NOT representative of “Truth” (capital ‘T’), they are not real, they are not higher goals or Wills, but are themselves illusions-- and yet they are (and this is the key for Nietzsche) useful illusions, and even more so, NECESSARY ones.

so we see that the ascetic ideals are “favorable” to the philosopher, and Nietzsche is not condemning this; however, it is the philosopher himself who is really an expression of the will to nothingness, an even more refined and “higher” expression than non-philosophers such as the religious or scientific (in Nietzsche’s perspective, nearly all men “will nothingness” or are at base nihilistic, including the philosophers, its just that the philosophers refine this will into a will to truth, seeking to disguise it and mask it further, and that while this is still illusory and deceptive, is not “bad” in any absolute sense, because it is as-of-yet still necessary)-- the ascetic ideals are the means by which the philosopher persists in his will to truth, and thereby in carrying the human Will across generations, slowly giving it more and more Strength over time, so that one day a new Will may be born out of it, a true Will to Power in a conscious willed sense (i.e. not in the sense that “everything is will to power”, which is true, but a different context)… that is the true meaning of ascetic ideals to Nietzsche: useful tools, desirable tools for illusory but necessary ends, to which the philosopher who uses them is but one step along the way to a higher ultimate Will to Power, which has not yet been recognized or given birth in man:


Apart from the ascetic ideal, man, the animal man, had no meaning so far. His existence on earth contained no goal; “why man at all?”—was a question without an answer; the will for man and earth was lacking; behind every great human destiny there sounded as a refrain a yet greater “in vain!” This is precisely what the ascetic ideal means: that something was lacking, that man was surrounded by a fearful void—he did not know how to justify, to account for, to affirm himself, he suffered from the problem of his meaning. He also suffered otherwise, he was in the main a sickly animal: but his problem was not suffering itself, but that there was no answer to the crying question, “why do I suffer?”

Man, the bravest of animals and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse that lay over mankind so far—and the ascetic ideal offered man meaning! It was the only meaning offered so far; any meaning is better than none at all; the ascetic ideal was in every sense the "Faute de mieux" par excellence so far [/size][size=88][Faute de mieux means “for want of something better.” The italicized phrase means something like “the pre-eminent next-best-thing.”][/size][size=92]. In it, suffering was interpreted; the tremendous void seemed to have been filled; the door was closed to any kind of suicidal nihilism. This interpretation—there is no doubt of it—brought fresh suffering with it, deeper, more inward, more poisonous, more life-destructive suffering: it placed all suffering under the perspective of guilt.

But all this notwithstanding —man was saved thereby, he possessed a meaning, he was henceforth no longer like a leaf in the wind, a plaything of nonsense—the “sense-less”— he could now will something; no matter at first to what end, why, with what he willed: the will itself was saved.

We can no longer conceal from ourselves what is expressed by all that willing which has taken its direction from the ascetic ideal: this hatred of the human, and even more of the animal, and more still of the material, this horror of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and beauty, this longing to get away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, wishing, from longing itself—all this means—let us dare to grasp it—a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental presuppositions of life, but it is and remains a will! … And, to repeat in conclusion what I said at the beginning: man would rather will nothingness than not will. —

[On The Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, 28]


Hm, I see now that I made a mistake in my OP. “Humility” and “vanity” should be turned around, of course. But that doesn’t seem to be what you mean:

How about “hunger for wealth”, as opposed to voluntary poverty? I was thinking of the hunger of the—materially—rich:

[size=95]Just see these superfluous ones! Wealth they acquire and become poorer thereby. Power they seek for, and above all, the lever of power, much money—these impotent ones!
Open still remaineth a free life for great souls. Verily, he who possesseth little is so much the less possessed: blessed be moderate poverty!
[TSZ, Of the New Idol.][/size]

See also the etymology of “greed”.

Where did I say I considered pride a necessity for the ascetic? Look, I see vanity as a relative lack of pride. It’s like cold and heat. There is no absolute cold (that would be zero degrees Kelvin, which cannot be attained). So just as “cold” and “heat” are really lesser and greater heat, respectively, so I see “vanity” and “pride” as lesser and greater pride, respectively. I think the reason the cynic uses the word “vanity”, not “pride”, is because “vanity” has a connotation of weakness (it’s associated with womanliness, whereas pride is of course associated with manliness). Also, all pride is relative vanity, because there could be prouder beings than even the proudest man, who would make his pride look pale in comparison to theirs.

The reason I posted this is that I want to determine in what way(s) and to what extent Nietzsche’s “counter-ideal” to the ascetic ideal (Ecce Homo, on the Genealogy) differs from the ascetic ideal. It doesn’t seem to be simply its opposite.

So far so good.

Whoa, I have to look that up. Not that I don’t know which passage you’re talking about, but I think it says the will to truth is an expression of asceticism, not vice versa.

This is what I’ve found that may support your claim. However, I think it actually gives me the means of answering my question:

[size=95]Everywhere else that the spirit is strong, mighty, and at work without counterfeit today, it does without ideals of any kind—the popular expression for this abstinence is “atheism”—except for its will to truth. But this will, this remnant of an ideal, is, if you will believe me, this ideal itself in its strictest, most spiritual formulation, esoteric through and through, with all external additions abolished, and thus not so much its remnant as its kernel.
[GM III, 27.][/size]

If the will to truth is the kernel of the ascetic ideal, then all else about it derives from that kernel. But the will to truth is philosophy itself (the love of “wisdom” in the sense of “knowledge”—knowledge of the truth).

Question: is this will to truth the unconditional will to truth?

I have presented the problem of truth here. In the meantime, I’ve found the solution (thanks to Laurence Lampert and Leo Strauss).

If God is dead, then the unconditional will to truth is groundless. My favourite simile for this is the following. Christianity was a scorpion: its torso was the Christian God, and its extremes were the Ten Commandments. The tail was “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”. This tail has stung to death the torso, and now the extremes—including the tail—must also die (though thus far they still survive as “shadows of God”). This is how it seemed to me.

But there is an alternative to the death of the extremes. They may be transplanted, to a new torso—a new God…

Without belief in a God, unconditional truthfulness is groundless, and must die if it exists, and cannot be born if it doesn’t. Without belief in God, there can only be conditional truthfulness: beings shall be truthful insofar as it’s good for them, and untruthful insofar as that’s good for them.

There can then only be unconditionally truthful beings if truthfulness is only good for them.

[size=95]“This world is the will to power—and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power—and nothing besides!”
[Nietzsche, The Will to Power, section 1067.][/size]

Are there beings to whom the will to power is a God, not a Devil? If not, could there be such beings? Should there not be such beings?

[size=95][T]his type of man that [Zarathustra] conceives [i.e., the Overman], conceives reality as it is: it is strong enough for it—
[Ecce Homo, Destiny, 5.][/size]

Can you support this claim? Where does Nietzsche say that the philosopher be an expression of the will to nothingness? The serious philosophers he mentions in GM III, 8 (Socrates belongs in a comedy) are: Heraclitus, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, and Schopenhauer. A strong case can be made for all of them, methinks, except for Heraclitus.

[size=95]Before me this transposition of the Dionysian into a philosophical pathos did not exist: tragic wisdom was lacking,—I have looked in vain for signs of it even among the great Greeks in philosophy, those of the two centuries before Socrates. I retained some doubt in the case of Heraclitus, in whose proximity I feel altogether warmer and better than anywhere else. The affirmation of passing away and destroying, which is the decisive feature of a Dionysian philosophy, saying Yes to opposition and war, Becoming, along with a radical repudiation of the very concept of “Being”—all this is clearly more closely related to me than anything else thought to date. The doctrine of the “eternal recurrence,” that is, of the unconditional and infinitely repeated circular course of all things—this doctrine of Zarathustra might in the end have been taught already by Heraclitus.
[EH Birth, 3.][/size]

Compare (also to that quote from EH Destiny):

[size=95]The strong races, as long as they are still rich and overrich in force, have the courage to see things as they are: tragic

What do you think shall happen to the will to truth after said “day”?

Hello Sauwelios:

— How about “hunger for wealth”, as opposed to voluntary poverty?
O- Craving…I got you.

— Look, I see vanity as a relative lack of pride.
O- I get you. You are thinking of Daybreak, Book four and BGE 261, where pride is self-respect, and “vanity” as the root implies, is seen as a vacuum to be filled by the opinion of others.

— The reason I posted this is that I want to determine in what way(s) and to what extent Nietzsche’s “counter-ideal” to the ascetic ideal (Ecce Homo, on the Genealogy) differs from the ascetic ideal. It doesn’t seem to be simply its opposite.
O- I think that ascetism was a means to an end, the discharge of power, the feeling of power. This feeling of power, however, can sometimes end in a rejection of life or life as it is. This ascetism, which best example is probably the Christian monk or nun, is influenced by a rejection of reality. Nietzsche ascetism, I think, has to find it’s parallel in Greeks. Why poverty, humility and chastity? The answer separates the two camps. One is a rejection of the world as is and the other as a search for psychological freedom, repose, harmony with this world, as therapy rather than as a self-sacrifice, a transaction for something greater. I think that Nietzsche considers one just better than the other.

I was just reminded of the following:

[size=95]This, however, is mine other manly prudence: I am more forbearing to the vain than to the proud.
Is not wounded vanity the mother of all tragedies? Where, however, pride is wounded, there there groweth up something still better than pride.
[TSZ, Of Manly Prudence.][/size]


[size=95]When stepped on, a worm doubles up. That is clever. In that way he lessens the probability of being stepped on again. In the language of morality: humility.—
[Twilight of the Idols, Maxim or Arrow 31, entire.][/size]

In Zarathustra next speech, his stillest hour says to him:

[size=95]“What matter about thyself? Thou art not yet humble enough for me. Humility hath the hardest skin.”
[The Stillest Hour.][/size]

What matters is not so much Zarathustra himself as well as his “children”:

[size=95]Finally, as far as “chastity” concerns philosophers, this sort of spirit apparently keeps its fertility in something other than children; perhaps they keep the continuity of their name elsewhere, their small immortality (among philosophers in ancient India people spoke with more presumption, “What’s the point of offspring to the man whose soul is the world?”). There’s no sense of chastity there out of some ascetic scruple or other or hatred of the senses—just as it has little to do with chastity when an athlete or jockey abstains from women. It’s more a matter of their dominating instinct, at least during its great pregnant periods.
[GM III, 8.][/size]


I did not even think of Daybreak, so thanks for mentioning that. As for BGE 261, I think a philosopher of the future must be proud rather than vain. However, I think his pride must be wounded so that something still greater than pride may grow out of it. Humility is not in itself greater than pride, but it’s more advantageous than pride to what is higher than both humility and pride: commanding the greatest things.

How is that? Can you elaborate, please?

We’re basically in agreement here.

Concerning the ascetic ideal it has to be understood that, though it can be discussed as such (as ideal in itself, to be compared with other ideals), in the actual scheme of things in our collective presence on the Earth, the ascetic ideal is not at all an “ideal” in itself, but rather a multifaceted means to an end.

To what end is ascetic minification the means? The cultivation of sincerity, and consequently, authentic spirituality and philosophy.

Let us consider, as an anthropologist might, the way primitive striving toward spirituality expresses itself on the Earth. Schitzoid, life-destroying vows of silence lasting decades at a time and crippling bodily starvations are but a tame foretaste, here we are faced with a gruesome, neverending parade of various self-disfigurements, amputations, burnings, freezings, blindings by poking out the eyes with rusty nails, filling the ears with permanent seal and cutting them off, genital mutilations of every possible type, et cetera. A qualification must be made immediately lest we be misunderstood: the word “primitive” here in no way sought to degrade or devalue the heroism and personal intensity of such historical ascetics, but merely indicates a relative lack of “artfulness”, for example, we may choose the school of Pythagoras in Greece as indicative of the opposite (“artful”) end of the spectrum, where art has come to serve spiritual ends much more effectively and obviated the need for the primitive methods entirely.

With the later emergence of Christian hypocrisy (for us, foremost among all the others), we have the dubious pleasure of witnessing the birth of the opposite of tragedy, the birth of happy-ended, always-blessed, believe-and-it-shall-be-so spiritual vulgarity. Another way of understanding the same is as the putrification of the original, “noble” (even if it were taken in its comparatively artless extreme) ascetic ideal into the ideal of the “good-Christian”, a reaction and striving NOT toward spirituality as it is at all, but toward the mirage caused by the characteristically superficial debasement and misunderstanding of the Bible through the efforts of fantasists and devils, or any of its available colloquial variants. There is no shortage of well-meaning and dedicated Christians who are thrown badly astray simply because they fail to distinguish any pitfall here. Their eyes are not adapted to these subtleties in the least, and so begins their pursuit of Christian-ascetic-ideal, a completely fictional, placeholder and counterfeit end.

Thus the adherent of the ascetic idea always has a definite aim, even if only an unconscious one. This is what causes the entrance into the labyrinth in the first place, where subsequently the naive explorer is diverted and perverted willy nilly by his surrounding circumstances, dogmas, etc. For example, the extant juicy saints of Christendom are, upon closer examination, usually revealed to have come up to their lofty stature not because of their personal Christianization, but rather IN SPITE of it.

Concerning my use of the word “sincerity” a separate note may be necessary. There are those who suppose that sincerity is like a switch that is available at will: if I want, I will be sincere. If I don’t, I may then elect to lie. This “elective” view of sincerity is superficial to the point of becoming mis-informative, as it directly obscures the workings of the real mechanism. In reality: sincerity is akin to muscle; if it is developed, one is “virile”, and if not, then one is WEAK and not “virile”. No amount of knowledge-accumulation or willing-of-anything will allow the WEAK, in this sense, to penetrate into philosophical depth. WEAKNESS, in addition, is associated with self-delusion, mystification, and pettifogging of all kinds, so that the weak are always able to flatter themselves considerably more comfortably than the opposite type, and in doing so they may never detect their own weakness, falsely presuming that EVERYONE ELSE has a constitution that is similarly base.

Let us then observe the situation from a respectful distance:
Christian hypocrisy cultivates swamp gases. Called the “ascetic ideal” by unfortunate coincidence. This we cast into outer darkness.

Let us consider the authentic ascetic ideal only, the one with proper aim.

When it minifies and stores-up, the ascetic ideal cultivates sincerity.
When it squanders and revels ON PURPOSE, the supposed anti-ascetic ideal also cultivates sincerity.
Question: is it then truly anti-ascetic?

When the deceptive “polarity” of appearance hides a unity of purposes, I am inclined to make amends to my use of linguistic forms. To this end, I have ceased considering ideals and doctrines entirely, focusing solely on whether their aim is Stupidity or Divinity; and if a mix, then in what proportion, and if local spices were introduced, then which, and how much.


i found some good lines from Nietzsche & Philosophy while posting in another thread, that explain and expand on what i was trying to refer to before regarding the nature of asceticism itself or of the “ascetic ideal” as Nietzsche calls it.

asceticism is a manifestation of the will to power in a will to nothingness, to an empty symbol, primarily as the will to negate, to becoming-reactive. asceticism is one form of nihilism, albeit it can be seen as the “nihilism of the higher man” (we would be tempted to call this “better” or “more true” than the nihilism of the herd-man, but this would be false). what Deleuze refers to as the march first to negative nihilism, and then from here to reactive nihilism. first, one denies reality by negating it, creating a false image or other-worldly ascetic value opposed to reality and intended to JUSTIFY or REDEEM/REVENGE against reality (ressentiment); then, after the negative has saturated its possible modes and served its purpose, the will to nothingness driving nihilism turns against the negation, the false image itself, as it has now become a new “full” symbol, a new world in itself, a new meaning. the will to nothingness drives nihilism to become a reactive nihilism, which reacts against the ascetic ideals and values (such as religion), seeking to KILL them and put ITSELF in their place (i.e. in the place of “God” on the throne).

this is because (and this took me some time to realize), with God gone, the “throne” or world of the ascetic/mystic/religious is without authoritative value, meaning or affirmative quality (it lacks its own self-sufficiency or self-justification), as it is now empty, having been subject to the same nihilistic desire to destroy that drove the will to nothingness to first rebel against the real world for an ideal world, and now against the ideal world itself. however, the throne cannot remain empty for long, and the reactive nihilist, always at the service of his ressentiment and spirit of revenge, takes the place of God, elevates new values and ideals “of this world”, i.e. against the ideal… however the reactive nihilist does not REAFFIRM reality or the world-itself, the real world, because he is still governed by the will to nothingness-- therefore, in his reaction against the ideal world/values themselves he posits new, “worldly” values such as societal/egalitarian/environmental/atheistic ideals which take the place of God…

society and man himself is elevated into the ideal, but always at the expense of reality itself. its always a false affirmation… the “yea” of the ass who does not know how to say “no” and therefore says yes to all that is negative, reactionary and false (the ‘yea’ of the ass is a becoming-reactive, a blanket concession of all negation or opposition of reality).

it is this progression which defines human history, not only its philosophical/intellectual history but its social-political expressions as well. Nietzsche, according to Deleuze, demonstrated just how nihilism, in the service of the will to nothingness (itself a manifestation of the will to power, a ressentiment or weak expression of it), first posits God, then kills God and substitutes itself (out of necessity-- it is still a will, remember)… and then, finally, has nothing left to react against, to nih, but itself, and the will to nothingness becomes a nothingness of will of the last man:

and then, finally we can see exactly how nihilism defeats itself in the end, how it MUST defeat itself, by virtue of its very nature:

the ascetic ideal, asceticism or the ascetic himself is a specific manifestation of this entire process, up until the end. separation from reality, revenge against reality… ressentiment and a spirit of revenge. the ascetic becomes and is defined by his ressentiment and spirit of revenge, even when the ascetic is the honest philosopher himself-- in that man has not yet become capable of affirming, the ascetics spin other-worldly realities and ideals and values at the expense of the only world, reality and value that exist, the one true world, reality itself. regardless of whether this process is intended or not, whether the intentions themselves are noble or perverse, whether ressentiment exists explicitly or not (in the rare case of the true philosopher), the ascetic is nonetheless the tool of affirmation itself via the nihilistic-progression ending in the last man, and through him in the Overman, who then becomes the only TRUE man who cannot be called “ascetic”… even when we consider ascetic to mean simply the mode of living of the philosopher or of the higher man, these men are still merely expressions (albeit a step higher or farther-along than the herd man) of the will to nothingness itself; it is only possible to REJECT the will to nothingness, to truly rid onesself of it, when we have reached true affirmation and found the eternal return-- and this will only happen with the birth of the Overman himself.

so we can see the ascetic ideal is necessary for affirmation itself, for the will to power. the will to power manifested as a will to emptiness, nothing, negation; it exists in the absence of affirmation, of the human power to affirm life and reality completely in the eternal return. the ascetic ideal “saves” or “preserves” man (his will) while man “finds himself”, while he passes through various stages of ressentiment and revenge against a cruel, cold and immutable reality and life which causes him so much suffering, pain and death. psychologically, man is not yet ABLE or ready to affirm, to become the fullest expression of will to power, to enjoy the eternal return. this is why asceticism (in its ancient/mystical forms through its religious forms to its more modern forms preserved within even philosophy and science) is “spoken highly” of by Nietzsche, why he both exposes its false nature as well as shows how it is necessary and even preferrable… the ascetic carries man along with him, suffering and in pain, blind and deaf, while the will carries on falsifying reality over and over, negating and reacting against reality until it uses itself up and passively wills a meaningless death of nothingness, when it is devoid of all energy to will any longer. and at that point, the last man becomes the birthplace of the Overman, as the will to nothingness negates and overcomes itself, out of NECESSITY, giving birth to true affirmation via the “active destruction” of itself.

reactive forces becoming-active, regaining their place within true affirmation rather than opposed to it-- reaction and negation at the service of true affirmation, and not opposed to it… the true Eternal Return, within the mind and soul of man himself.