The Ascetic Self
Subjectivity, Memory and Tradition
By Gavin Flood
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2004
Online Publication Date:November 2009
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617522.001
The question of the ascetic self that this book seeks to address arose from a range of questions about the nature of self and experience, about what is shared and not shared between cultures, and about the nature and possibility of comparative religion in a postmodern world. The renunciation and transformation of desire seem so fundamental to traditions founded on texts (oral and written) that I began to think about the links between text and renunciation, time and renunciation, and the ideals that make men and women live a life of austerity. It seems to me that central to this religious austerity is a textual tradition that claims that through what we might call a reversal of our orientation towards desire and the senses, a higher good and greater happiness can be achieved. Such claims would seem to be instantiated in the histories of the scriptural traditions and so go against the grain of contemporary, Western sensibilities as to be worth exploring. While asceticism has been a central theme of scholarship – one thinks especially of the sociology of Max Weber and his students – rather than simply develop the ramifications of this work, I wanted to explore the subjectivity of the ascetic self and examine subjective meaning rather than objective system.
But the subjective meaning of asceticism can be understood and located within traditions only in so far as the ascetic self is constructed in accordance with their goals and practices.
Reference Title: REFERENCES
Reference Type: reference-list