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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L006-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

Article Summary

The term ‘asceticism’ is derived from the Greek word, askēsis, which referred originally to the sort of exercise, practice or training in which athletes engage. Asceticism may be characterized as a voluntary, sustained and systematic programme of self-discipline and self-denial in which immediate sensual gratifications are renounced in order to attain some valued spiritual or mental state. Ascetic practices are to be found in all the major religious traditions of the world, yet they have often been criticized by philosophers. Some argue that the religious doctrines that they presuppose are false or unreasonable. Others contend that they express a preference for pain that humans cannot consistently act upon.

Citing this article:
Quinn, Philip L.. Asceticism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L006-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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