Spirituality, Diversion, and Decadence: The Contemporary Predicament
This book presents a philosophical rethinking of the meaning and nature of spiritual discipline. It offers a new way of describing and justifying practices like praying, meditating, fasting, and yoga, and it provides an innovative case for their contemporary importance.
Spiritual discipline is especially effective at combatting Pascalian diversion, the pursuit of activities that occupy the mind just enough to avoid thinking about important things; and Nietzschean decadence, the proclivity for extirpating instinctive drives instead of satisfying or sublimating them. In addition to overcoming diversion and decadence in contemporary consumerist culture, VanNess recommends spiritual discipline as a means of political resistance to powerful institutions which seek to exercise social control in democratic societies by promulgating addictive patterns of consumption.
Finally, he argues that regimens of spiritual discipline can serve healthful and liberating purposes, and generally promote fullness of life, only insofar as they are shaped by an ethos of intellectual criticism and aesthetic experimentation.
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action activity Aristotle Aristotle’s ascetic ascetic ideals asceticism Augustine behavior believe biological equilibration Blaise Pascal Cambridge categoreal themes chapter chess Christ Christian classical Clement Clement of Alexandria complex conception of spiritual conﬂict contemporary context creative criticism deﬁnition describing divine Dorothy Day embodied especially ethical experience ﬁgures ﬁnal ﬁnd ﬁrst forms Friedrich Nietzsche Genealogy of Morals gnostic God’s Greek habits Hesychast human Ibid identiﬁed individual inﬂuence instance integrity intellectual Jesus knowledge language Liar paradox logical meaning moral natural Neoplatonic Nietzsche Nietzsche’s notion objects one’s paradox Pascal persons phenomenological philosophical physical physiological Platonic prayer principle promote reality reﬂection regimens relevant religion religious practices says scientiﬁc semiotic semiotic self-reference sense signiﬁcance social solitude sort speciﬁc spiritual practices spiritual predicament spiritually disciplined practices static hierarchy Stoic strategy structure suprasensual vision symmetry theological traditional trans transcendent transformation Translated truth unencumbered causality University Press vitality Walter Kaufmann York Zarathustra