In the temperate zone, where the seasons are sharply contrasted, but follow each other with regularity, foresight and self-denial were fostered, because if men did not exercise these qualities seed-time or harvest might pass into lost opportunities and the tribes would suffer.
With infinite tact and admirable self-denial he gave free scope to ministers whose superiority in their various departments he frankly recognized, rarely interfering personally unless absolutely called upon to do so.
The most remarkable statement of this point of view is that of Friedrich Nietzsche, who went so far as to denounce all forms of self-denial as cowardice: - let every one who is strong seek to make himself dominant at the expense of the weak.
In 1890 the Rabbinical Diploma was conferred on him by Lector Weiss of Vienna, but again he evidenced his self-denial by declining to stand for the post of associate Chief Rabbi in the same year.
Mysticism may broadly be described as the effort to give effect to the craving for a union of the soul with the Deity already in this life; and asceticism as the effort to give effect to the hankering after an ever-progressive purification of the soul and an atoning for sin by renunciation and self-denial in things lawful.
It is useful, therefore, in a summary sketch of asceticism, to begin with the facts as they can be observed among less advanced races, or as mere survivals among people who have reached the level of genuine moral reflection; and from this basis to proceed to a consideration of self-denial consciously pursued as a method of ethical perfection.