Eremita alter philosophus: Understanding Ascesis in Pagan and Christian Philosophy

  • Nena Bobovnik University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia
  • Gina Derhard Centrum für Religionswissenschaftliche Studien, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany
Keywords: asceticism, eremitism, ancient philosophy, Eucherius of Lyon, monasticism

Abstract

Starting from the designation of the desert as the most suitable place for devotion to philosophy, as alluded to in the Praise of the Desert (De laude eremi) by Eucherius of Lyon, the article explores the Christian reception of ancient pagan philosophy concerning asceticism. In line with Hadot’s conception of ancient philosophy as a way of life, the article focuses on the concept and practice of asceticism, expressed in the form of “spiritual exercises” or physical endurance. While both dimensions of asceticism existed in classical Greek philosophy, physical isolation – the departure of Christian ascetics into the desert – proves to be the differentia specifica of Christian asceticism. The article highlights the identification of philosophy with monasticism and follows its assimilation into the context of Christian asceticism, which places isolation among the fundamental criteria of “philosophy.”

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Published
2020-08-17
How to Cite
Bobovnik, Nena, and Gina Derhard. 2020. “Eremita Alter Philosophus: Understanding Ascesis in Pagan and Christian Philosophy”. Clotho 2 (1), 5-31. https://doi.org/10.4312/clotho.2.1.5-31.
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Articles