Arquivo para May 25th, 2022

Asceticism and Exercises

25 May

The most prominent German philosopher of our time, Peter Sloterdijk in his work: “You have to change your life” has a brilliant and original insight, it is not the mode of production or even the culture that produces life, but the exercises, for they perform our “ascesis”.

What an exercise means for him, he says in his work: “As an exercise I define any operation that preserves or improves the actor’s qualification to perform the same operation the next time, whether declared as an exercise or not” (Sloterdijk, 2009, p. 14).

He will develop more often the concept of “habitus” that takes up the medieval concept of Aquinas and ancien (hexis) of Aristotle, and from there his anthropological concept:

“[…] they describe an apparently mechanical process under the aspects of inertia and overcoming to explain the incarnation of the spiritual. They identify man as that animal that can do what he must, if anyone has cared in time for his abilities. At the same time, they perceive how the provisions reached continue to grow towards new overcomings” (Idem, p. 289).

And so his theory of habitus points to any custom or ability in the direction of overcoming its current state, from the perspective of a vertical tension it is possible to formulate an art tension of the Good, because even what is already good can be improved, so it begins for this asceticism to elaborate its main concept: the anthropo-technique, written here on purpose with a hyphen.

In Sloterdijk’s interpretation there is a rupture, which he calls secession, between those who leave to choose a life of exercise and the everyday world, which resembles a river in which there are unquestioned accommodations, and for him this is beyond the religious spectrum, culture is merged.

He calls the internal process of this asceticism endorhetoric, which consists of prayers, ritual recitations, monologues and other silent speeches, usually practiced repeatedly, reaching true internal dialogues (they are not hallucinations), but are solitary practices without the Other.

“All exercises, whether of a yoga, athletic, philosophical or musical nature, can only take place if supported by endorhetorical processes, in which acts of self-exhortation, self-examination and self-assessment, under the criteria of the specific school tradition and under continuous appointment in the direction of masters who have already reached the goal, have a decisive role” (Sloterdijk, 2009, p. 369).

There is a going beyond normality and asceticism that leads to another ascension, the encounter with Being.

Sloterdijk, P. (2009) Du musst Dein Leben ändern. Über Antropotechnik Frankfurt, Suhrkamp. (You have to change your life, Portuguese edition 2018, ed. Relógio d´água)