Man’s Authenticity In The Search For Meaning Through Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy
Background of the Study
Viktor Frankl‘s s most popular book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is one of the resource where one can understand his life and work. The book details Frankl‘s experiences in the concentration camps. This book of Frankl which has been translated into many different languages and sold more than millions of copies worldwide (1997). In Man‟s Search for Meaning, Frankl details not only the experiences, but also the condition out of which his basic philosophy arose with stronger conviction that life has meaning under all circumstances.
Statement of the Problem
This paper goal is to provide a substantial account of man’s authenticity in the process of claiming the wholeness of human condition in search for meaning. An existential crisis of finding meaning despite of the harshest condition in life. A crisis that may arise to an individual. A crisis that sometimes directed a person to give up and commit outrageous act that destroy one’s dignity in life. The Logotherapy of Viktor Frankl greatly aid the person who in his condition be confronted with and reoriented toward the meaning of life. Thus, in order to discuss and support the researcher’s claim, the researcher will elaborate on the authenticity of man in his search for meaning by discussing the following questions; (1) What are the essentials of life component that make life worth living for and meaningful? Is it sufficiently strong that man can commit to be goal oriented? (2) Then, is the existence of man meaningful? How can one find significance in life despite of difficulties and sufferings? (3) Lastly, what is the meaning of life or the ultimate meaning of life?
Significance of the Study
The study of Viktor Frankl’s concept of finding Meaning conveys out a vision in the authenticity of man in his will to meaning through his daily actions and beliefs that greatly determine the meaning in his life. Also as to stress on the three ways on how an individual could discover meaning as Frankl interprets it, that man does have a choice of action even in such harshest condition. Thus, the contribution of the researcher in this paper is the exploration of man’s authenticity in his search for meaning that led him to pursue for the ultimate meaning of life and that would be the concept of God. This paper is relevant because the concept of Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning, has an impact in guiding any human condition in discovering meaning. He introduces it in his own way though his logotherapy that man are to be confronted with and reoriented toward the meaning of life.
Primarily, this paper focuses on Viktor Frankl’s notion of discovering meaning in human condition. Thus, this paper explores the ideas and important key points mentioned only from the following books that are related to the topic: Man’s Search for Meaning, Principles in Discovering Meaning in Life and work, and Man’s search for the Ultimate Meaning.
To elaborate on the topic, the researcher is going to describe the procedure that are being use in this paper. It will also include discussion on how the researcher explore the topic and how it is being analyze and validate. The philosopher at the same time a physician, Viktor Frankl is the one who introduces his own philosophy of logotherapy, He made the discovery of logotherapy which greatly contribute in aiding the person who in his condition be confronted with and reoriented toward the meaning of life, especially those who experience a sense of meaninglessness in life.
First, this paper will explore on the three ways to discover meaning in life. A meaning that can be found either in an active way or in passive way of enjoyment in life. An active way of enjoyment, which manifested in one’s work and deed. The passive way of enjoyment which arises in meeting someone or something.
Second, the researcher will give emphasis in which Viktor Frankl stresses his philosophy on logotherapy in which it is relevant in today’s generation where human condition of being burden by personal and family problems in comparison to a concentration camp.
Lastly, the researcher will aim to give a simple and yet substantial explanation and a deep impression to the reader through connecting each point of the said topic of man’s authenticity in the process of claiming the wholeness of human condition in search for meaning. Each chapter will end with points to ponder to highlight connections in the context of discerning meaning that aim to bridge the individual chapters, and will provide a list of the relevant sources in the bibliography.
The Significance of Man’s Life
The meaning in the life of human person is the vitality or fuel that rouses us to accomplish our maximum capacity as individuals, in our own personal, and our functioning lives. The meaning may not be constantly accessible to our human discernment, and to our perception, for the reason that we are limited individuals. Although, precisely this limit displays a test to us, which must be beaten just with an unrestricted desire to discover meaning throughout everyday life. [5: Alex Pattakos, Prisoners of our thoughts: Viktor Frankl’s principles for discovering meaning in life and work, second edition revised and updated.
Human beings are not a life form that simply seeking for pleasure or power but a life form that continually evolving and seeking meaning in life. In fact, individual make due with the quest for pleasure and power just when they fail to discover meaning in life. Actual existence of authentic life pulls in us with its clarity and aliveness. Yet, man cannot however contemplate whether such a life is too much to expect. Man essential inspiration is the will to meaning. The uniqueness that recognizes every person and gives an importance to his reality has a direction on innovative work as much as it does on human love.
Despite the fact that the preciousness of man’s life is clear to us, there are three different ways to discover meaning in man’s precious life. According to Viktor Frankl, one can realize meaning in life: by working or doing a deed, experiencing and loving something or someone, and facing unavoidable suffering as a challenge in life. To provide support of man’s authenticity in the process of claiming the wholeness of human condition in search for meaning, let us explore the first two ways of discovering meaning in man’s life; creating, and loving, per Frankl’s method.
Active Way of Enjoyment – Creating
The primary method to discover meaning is through an active way of life in which an individual make a work or complete a deed. An active life serves the reason for allowing man the chance to acknowledge esteems in innovative work. Every individual has an exceptional condition, and everyone has unique purpose in life. In that way Viktor Frankl does not believe that the significance of life can be replied in general terms because the importance of life varies from man to man, day to day, and hour to hour. Certainly, there is an open door, which anticipates through everyday life. An open door that offers an opportunity that decided one’s destiny in life. Man may discover meaning in things that really interest in his mind. He may discover meaning by being great at his particular work.
The true significance in discovering meaning in life is to dwell in the creation rather than putting oneself in a box where there is no room for improvement. Frank called this constitutive characteristic of man as “the self-transcendence of human existence,” through work or service. It means that man through the completion of his work and the deeds that he do is always point to the idea of directing it to someone or something that causes him to excel in his doing. In Frankl’s experiences in the concentration camp where his fellow prisoner strive to work hard, despite of the harsh condition, in order to please the guard or in exchange for something to eat. A driving force that made man to cast his utmost ability for someone or to something.
Man in every possible way must live in accordance with his interest and that can support him to discover meaning. For instance, if man is fond of creating then he will always do his best to achieve excellence, which directed his work to a meaning. A teacher who love to educate his own student through teaching the best possible method. An actor who loves acting will always do his best to please his audience. Thus, one may discover meaning in his own pace, in doing great at one’s particular work. By accomplishing and achieving something that put a lot of a person’s effort and time is worth it and a meaningful one that can truly be treasure.
Passive Way of Enjoyment – Loving
The second method to discover meaning is through the passive way of enjoyment. It is called the passive way of enjoyment because it is latent way of expressing. It is there like a wind that you know that it exists but apparently, it cannot be seen. This method is not an active type, rather it is a type of surrendering and giving up for love to transcend. This manages an individual the chance to get satisfaction in encountering excellence in beauty, art, or nature. It is suggesting that it arises in experiencing a person or a thing that changes how one see reality. As of now, you are alive, its mind blowing in the event of life that man could by one way or another change the manner in which one fit to see, that is by encountering the extraordinary beauty, wonder, and mystery in life. A person may be the kind of individual that can discover meaning in life by just lying in bed or just by sitting under a big tree for the whole day and getting a charge out of it. Frankl proposes that man can discover meaning in this type of remote enjoyment.
The bottom line of this method is about love. On love, Frankl states that love is the best way to get a hold on another individual in the deepest center of his identity. In Frankl’s experience in the concentration camp, he depicts on how he was consoled in his struggle by envisioning his adored spouse. He discovered significance in recollecting her love. Right then at the very moment when one is in constant recollection of latent love towards their beloved they can understand and can find meaning in living. It was not just the desire for seeing her that kept Frankl alive, however the memory, which gave him a cherishing perspective as he pondered her. He composes that the memory of holding that love before his eyes was sufficient, regardless of whether he realized that his wife was dead. Once more, this significance of life is in a method for seeing or adoring, not really doing or acting anything. Whether all expectation of seeing his significant other is gone, seeing through the eyes of affection is sufficient, that it can be counted as a wonderful meaning in one’s life. Regardless whether that memory is at some point ruined, he can at present hold it in his mind and return to an approach for seeing that it is love.
Even if an individual had carried on with a narrow-minded life. In the end, he will appreciate the experience he is presently having. Even if he has nobody to converse with aside from a book. However, as he converses with the book, he encounters something unimaginable. By having a book as a companion, he encounters meaning. The book may have meaning to the man and find life in it. This is hard to comprehend, yet one may discover significance in life in an inexpressible and lovely method for seeing that may rise above personal responsibility. That is, discovering meaning in the most notable adoration, in seeing reality with love. Human affection happens from numerous points of view. Likewise, in contrasts to the nature of individual’s close to personal and working lives that arises an impression of being related with, if not the immediate consequence of, these human affections. Individual whom by all account living and working with a sense of meaning as their essential wellspring of human affection seemed to be more passionate, involved, and resilient than those who are living and working with no sense of hope and meaning at all. Once more, as long as an individual does not surrender to lose hope, one may discover meaning in a latent method, in an experience with love. A love that transcend an individual because of softness, emptiness, and the loss of self that enabled man the experience of love to arise inside him. The main concern there is a method for being and seeing that establishes another importance and meaning of life and along these lines is typically connected with the most notable type of adoration, love.
The Meaning in Suffering
In the perspective on the likelihood of discovering meaning in suffering, life’s meaning is a genuine one. That genuine significance, nevertheless, is paralleled by a clear value of every single individual. It is what merits the enduring nature of the nobility of human person. Sometimes the gravity of the hardships or difficulties that individual faces drives man to identify the meaning of life’s moments. When there is a meaning in life, then there is also a meaning in suffering. A meaning that will incredibly transcend the nature of man. Suffering is always at man’s side, for without suffering there would be no color to life. Suffering is the partner of enjoyment. This does not mean that man ought to make suffering, rather it is about how an individual manage to handle with unavoidable suffering.
A feeling of insignificance or meaninglessness brings about sufferings. The hopeless feeling that dragged down the human person to live no more upon any condition in life. If suffering were avoidable, no individual would eventually want it in his lives. Nevertheless, in reality, suffering is unavoidable, yet man can choose to change the frames of mind to discover significance in life and put meaning in it. When we are never again ready to change a human condition, we are tested to change ourselves, which bore a striking similitude to every individual who used to think that they do not had anything more to expect from life. There are individuals who see’s life meaningless and would continue to see it meaningless unless some sort of miracle will happen along the way. Like the experience of the prisoner in the concentration camp, which as per Frankl that it is not the physical pain which hurts the most it is the mental agony caused by the injustice, the absurdity of it all.
Those individuals who experience suffering, regard suffering as a wall that cannot be surpass. An opponent that cannot be outdone. Ironically, giving up on the quest of finding significance in life is the only option they see. On the contrary, there are individuals who see suffering as an opportunity rather than a problem that needed to deal with. An opponent that must be outdone no matter what the risk is. For these individual perceives things in a different way, where the quest for finding meaning in life is their primary source of human condition. Thus, man can built up the understanding that he could change the manner in which he saw and responded to his new, discomforting conditions, and turn it to a new type of achievement and success.
Man should always remember that we might likewise discover meaning in life nevertheless when stood up to with a miserable circumstance, when confronting a destiny that cannot be change. For what will matter most at that certain moment is how an individual will handle the suffering that befall upon him and turn it into his own strength. A strength that will bring him to accomplishment and victory. A victory that even his own self cannot comprehend until he find value and meaning in it. The way man handles and acknowledges unavoidable sufferings gives an adequate chance to add understanding and importance in life. An individual can stay courageous, honorable and unselfish even in the outrageous and harshest condition. In the unpleasant battle for self-safeguarding, an individual may overlook his human pride and become more human than an animal. Here lies the possibility for a man either to utilize or to do without the chances of achieving the ethical qualities that a tough condition may manage the cost of him whether he is deserving of his sufferings or not. In the event that men are troubled for unavoidable reasons, one must stay away from those individuals who need to fulfill or attempt to make and feel hopeless for being miserable. Sometimes it is great and appropriate to be troubled, and man can in any case discover meaning throughout it in his everyday life. Discovering meaning in suffering is more important than pleasure and bliss. When an individual discover meaning in suffering, he enter in a condition of being that rises above pleasure and bliss.
Unrestrained Choice the Concept of Opportunity
Frankl expresses that, ‘what was at last in charge of the condition of the detainee’s internal identity was less the mental causes but rather more it was the aftereffect of a free choice.’ He believes that man generally has some level of opportunity, and that man can utilize this opportunity to find meaning in life.
How about we investigate a portion of the recorded occasions to more readily comprehend his concept of opportunity. In his book in titled “Mans Search for Meaning,” Frankl portrays his awful encounters in the death camp. He portrays detainees called Capos who were eager to do anything for power and survival. The experience is like the survival of the fittest, beating fellow Capos more than the guards. Frankl states, ‘Just those detainees could keep alive who, following quite a while of trekking from camp to camp, had lost all compunctions in their battle for presence; they were set up to utilize each mean, legit and something else, even severe power, burglary, and double-crossing of their companions, so as to spare themselves’.
Freedom to Discover Meaning
“That which was ultimately responsible for the state of the prisoner’s inner self was not so much the psychological causes as it was the result of a free decision.”
Authenticity of Man
Man’s life is like a labyrinth, which is not a riddle to be explain, yet a path of meaning to be experience. Authenticity finds meaning in a specific style of uniqueness in human being. Such an authentic method for living appeared differently in relation to the falsity of a basic existence where man lost in the secrecy of the group. Such an actual existence of authentic way pulls in us with its clarity and aliveness. Yet, one cannot however ponder whether such a life is not too much to anticipate.
Will to Meaning
Man in his search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a ‘secondary rationalization’ of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning.
Every individual face his very own conflicts each day, nothing trivial, yet there is always that thing called losing or winning. My take is we never lose; it is most likely a bypass in camouflage driving us to something better. Something meaningful that will probably change our very own view in life. When on one start not to be afraid to start over, it is a chance to build something better this time. One’s lack of dedication is an insult to those who believe in you Life is a series of millions of tiny miracles that gives meaning to one’s life. Everything in life happens for a reason, no matter how hard or how unfair it may be something better will always come out of it.
- Frankl, Viktor. Man’s Search for Meaning; An Introduction to Logotheraphy 4TH Ed. Translated by Ilse Lasch. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.
- Pattakos, Alex. Prisoners of our thoughts: Viktor Frankl’s principles for discovering meaning in life and work. Second edition revised and updated. California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc., 2008.
- Frankl, Viktor. Man’s Search for Meaning, revised and updated. New York: Washington square press, 1988.
- Holmes, Jeremy. ‘Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.’ British Journal of Psychiatry 205, no. 02 (2014): 102. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.113.133520.
- Kovacs, George. ‘Ultimate Reality and Meaning in Viktor E. Frankl.’ Ultimate Reality and Meaning 5, no. 2 (1982): 118-39. doi:10.3138/uram.5.2.118.
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