man’s search for meaning

alright, well here I am once more, to blabber about my new found philosophical discoveries/knowledge. mind you, this is not new to the world or anything, I’m just still learning and keep finding information that is extremely amusing and is worth other people hearing about. …or..you can judge for yourself if it’s worth your time

I have recently been suggested a book to help with my spirituality essay for philosophy called MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Victor E. Frankl. This book was an international success and after I finished it, as fast as I could possibly read, I wanted to read it again, and again and again. As is quoted on the back of the book…I think that “If you are to read but one book your whole life, this should be it”

The book is based on logotherapy, the idea that man’s life revolves around his constant search for meaning. Obviously, there is much more to it. The discovery of this new philosophical idea happened during his (Victor’s ) experiences in concentration camps during world war 2. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, there goes another “they were horrible, evil times in history etc etc” story, but NO the idea is not to concentrate on the incidents, torture, abuse, and sadism that we already know happened in concentration camps, but to study and understand just how incredible our mind is, and how in every dire situation, there is but one last freedom.

***** the book is worth your time to read, you will be astounded

here, I will sum up the book’s most amazing points, and quotations (some of them are not by Victor himself, but by other known philosophers as well)

  • we make our own choices (life does not depend solely on fate)
  • there are decent and indecent people in any type of circumstance (among both guards and prisoners in the camps)
  • “Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress” (pg. 86)
  • there is only one last of human freedoms “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (pg 86)
  • …”it is spiritual freedom…that makes life meaningful and purposeful” (pg. 87)
  • if there is a meaning to joy and happiness, there must be a meaning in suffering (if there is any meaning at all)
  • “Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete”
  • in order to see a future and hope, one must have a goal (something to live for)
  • life becomes meaningless when one uses the past to make present seem less real -> this exceptionally difficult external situation (such as that in a concentration camp) gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself
  • “the truth…love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which a man can aspire” (“the salvation of man is through love and in love”) (Pg. 57)
  • “Emotion, which is suffering ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it” (Pg. 95)
  • “He who has a WHY to live for can bear with almost any HOW” (Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted in 1963, Pg. 97)
  • There is a strong connection between the state of mind of a man – his courage and hope or lack thereof – and the state of immunity of his body
  • “Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”(pg 98)
  • the light of the past shines on in the present darkness -> “What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you ” (pg. 104)
  • “I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and He answered me in the freedom of space” (pg. 111)
  • Meaning of life -> “One should not search for an abstract meaning, everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. He cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it ” (pg 131)
  • “The true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it was a closed system” (pg 131)
  • The more one forgets himself – by giving himself a cause to serve or another person to love – the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself -> self actualization is not an aim but a side effect of self transcendence (pg 133)
  • Love is the only way to grasp another human being to the innermost core of his personality” (pg 134)

“A life of a short duration could be so rich in joy and love that it could contain more meaning than a life lasting eighty years” (Pg 140)

for more info, visit these sites or just google him

http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/frankl/frankl.html

http://www.logotherapyinstitute.org/life-and-works.html

http://logotherapy.univie.ac.at/

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3 Responses to “man’s search for meaning”


  1. 1 Matthew Spears November 19, 2007 at 3:26 am

    I agree with that thought about Love!

    Loving Awareness

  2. 2 olgaolgaolga November 19, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    as do i matthew, as do i!

  3. 3 teengle November 25, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Wow I can’t believe I actually read that whole thing 🙂 , very interesting, I really believe in that last quote :
    “A life of a short duration could be so rich in joy and love that it could contain more meaning than a life lasting eighty years”
    Very Very true..
    And also the fact that each person is responsible for his/her life
    each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life;

    Nice stuff Gurts 🙂


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