Definition of askesis in English:


(also ascesis)


  • The practice of severe self-discipline, typically for religious reasons.

    • ‘Hence, monastics are continuously involved in ascesis in order to rid their selves of the heavy burden of self-idolization and self-love.’
    • ‘As she was insatiable, Maudgalya got fed up and reverted to ascesis.’
    • ‘Those scriptures that contain prescriptions for worshipping gods, sacrifices, donations, ascesis and other rituals, have been prepared by wise men only to keep people subjugated.’
    • ‘He had focused on an extremely refined and excellent ideal and achieved success in that ascesis too.’
    • ‘This purification is understood as entailing the freeing of the soul from undue bodily influence, achieved by seasoning the body with virtue and ascesis.’
    • ‘Besides the ascesis through spiritual fatherhood, the monastics fulfill their daily spiritual exercise through the more common practices of prayer, fasting, and vigil.’
    • ‘To admit that we do not know is a costly ascesis, not least because knowledge would give us power for good as well as evil, the power to comfort the grieving, to reassure the afflicted, and to shore up hope and fortify the weak against apathy.’
    • ‘Through daily ascesis, even in periods of no external persecution, the monastics testify to the martyrdom of conscience.’
    • ‘The goal here is related to Foucault's concept of askesis, ‘an exercise of oneself in the practice of thought’, with an emphasis as much on practice as on thought.’
    • ‘He called for the practice of ‘askesis,’ like St. Antony in the desert resisting corruption of his soul.’
    • ‘We might think of a notion of ascesis not only as articulated by Walter Pater but also as expressed in the work of scholars like Leo Bersani.’
    • ‘At dawn he leaves to perform ascesis, fasting the whole day.’


Late 19th century: from Greek askēsis ‘training’, from askein ‘to exercise’.