• Rafaella Leon
    59
    The meaning of life, emphasized Frankl, is an ontological reality, not a cultural creation. Frankl gives no philosophical proof of this statement, but the very path of logotherapeutic healing provides each patient with unmistakable evidence of the objectivity of the meaning of his life. The meaning of life simply exists: it is just a matter of finding it. Universal in its value, individual in its content, the meaning of life is found through a tenacious investigation in which the patient, with the help of the therapist, seeks an answer to the following question: What should I do and that cannot be done by anyone, absolutely anyone except myself? The immanent duty to each life then appears as an imposition of the very structure of human existence. No man invents the meaning of his life: each one is, so to speak, surrounded and cornered by the meaning of his own life. This demarcates and fixes at a certain point in space and time the center of his personal reality, from whose view emerges, clear and inexorable, but only visible from within, the duty to fulfill.

    Mystical psychologies deal fundamentally with the meaning of the individual’s life, of the individual before his ultimate moral responsibility, something that is above the character, something that Humanity itself does not know. It is fundamentally the individual as Universal Man, as Christ, as pastor and responsible for all humanity. The saint's model represents the action of the individual as a function of the ultimate purpose of all things. For Gandhi — who is a prototype of a saint— only his relationship with a purpose that transcends the biological life and life of the human species is of interest. When both were over, God would be left, and it is waiting for this moment that his action is guided.

    Duty fulfillment regarding a social role presupposes the existence of people who have an expectation regarding the occupant of that role. To act on the coherence of one’s own biography presupposes that it must continue. Acting toward goals dictated by the culture and intelligence presupposes that there are achievable ends within the time frame of a historical existence. But if the individual acts solely on the basis of an end, he is acting precisely on the inexistence of a world around him. With or without the world, he would act the same way. Acts then acquire a supra-temporal, supra-historical meaning, that is, eternally man should do so before the world exists or when it ceases to exist. Here action is taken as the direct expression of a divine quality that acts without the existence of the world.

    We can speak of holiness only when one’s relationship with an eternal God motivates each of his actions. Not only accidental acts, but all, one by one, there is no single act that can be explained outside this dialogue. Who does the guy talk to, who does he respond to? If we erase this connection, his life becomes a collection of meaningless acts. An accomplished holy man acts on the eternal sense of existence, has no other motive, not even History.
  • Jack Cummins
    989

    From my point of view, you are starting a very interesting discussion about the ideas of Victor Frankl. I have not read him as much as I wish. What I am concerned about is that some of the religious assumptions you may alienate a lot of people reading it. Personally, I think that you write well and, I am open minded about religion and mysticism, so I will read what you write. But what I am thinking is that it might be helpful if you concentrate a bit more on the ideas of Victor Frankl, especially as he is not given as much attention as he probably deserves.

    Also, the question as to whether mankind can endure anything other than meaning is defintely worthy of debate, independently of Frankl's ideas. I am not sure that I can cope with everything, although I try, even if I have meaning, but perhaps that is because I do not have the spiritual understanding which you present, and so, this might be why you have included the spiritual background, so my response may be erroneous.
  • Antony Nickles
    152

    The meaning of life simply exists: it is just a matter of finding it.Rafaella Leon

    I loved that book in school, and I enjoyed reading this; it made me think of the ways in which I understand these same (similar) things now. The approach reminds me of Emerson in that it is not synonymous with typical analytic philosophy, but it is relevant. If we say that a person exists if they find the meaning of their life, then others have not yet, in a sense, come to "exist". Without interest in, or attraction to, the world--if nothing is meaningful to them--there is nothing that would endure. When the means of the production of ourselves is forced upon us, we are alienated from our ability to find ourselves, Marx would say.

    No man invents the meaning of his life: each one is, so to speak, surrounded and cornered by the meaning of his own life.Rafaella Leon

    Here I am reminded of Stanley Cavell's observation that the "will" is not active, but actually passive; not, say, that I am in perfect control of my body, but that I am in the perfect control of my body, even, as it were, the god within me. The world draws me if I would let it, Heiddeger would say, but in grasping for certainty/knowledge, I loose sight of what is meaningful to me.

    But if the individual acts solely on the basis of an end, he is acting precisely on the inexistence of a world around him. With or without the world, he would act the same way. Acts then acquire a supra-temporal, supra-historical meaning, that is, eternally man should do so before the world exists or when it ceases to exist. Here action is taken as the direct expression of a divine quality that acts without the existence of the world.Rafaella Leon

    To say there is no world is maybe a way to say we should not be acting towards a goal or end--the Hindu idea of detachment from the fruits of our actions. Our actions being the expression of something higher in us is another way of saying our actions create us, complete us.

    the meaning of the individual’s life, of the individual before his ultimate moral responsibility, something that is above the character, something that Humanity itself does not know.Rafaella Leon

    I have tried to explain (not as eloquently)--in my contributions to the post Freedom and Duty, and in my post on Wittgenstein's lion-quote--that responsibility, answerability, and duty, are beyond knowledge and above our "selves" (our ego, as it were). In that moral realm we are defined by our acts; we are responsible for the existence and composition of who we are either reflecting our interests and what is meaningful to us, or living in, as Emerson would say, conformity.

    Well said.
  • Garth
    112
    the very path of logotherapeutic healing provides each patient with unmistakable evidence of the objectivity of the meaning of his life. The meaning of life simply exists: it is just a matter of finding it.Rafaella Leon

    (1) You are conflating the essence (meaning of life) with the example of it. Even if the essence is not cultural it may very well be that every example of it is cultural.

    (2) You are dividing a person's thinking into two kinds, "culturally mediated" and "culturally unmediated". But it is possible that the latter category is also culturally mediated and the person simply doesn't recognize that fact. Consider, for example Vygotsky's research on the development of inner speech in children, or all of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Through the development of understanding, the essence eventually is moved into the subject. The case of objectively seeing the world without cultural influence is simply a lack of understanding on the part of the subject.
  • kudos
    141
    But if the individual acts solely on the basis of an end, he is acting precisely on the inexistence of a world around him. With or without the world, he would act the same way. Acts

    Not that I disagree, but would you care to elaborate on this point? Most importantly, how the individual encumbered by future ends relates to his having a type of existential ‘blind spot.’

    Are you trying to express that some of us lead fuller, richer, or better lives than others? If we focus our attention elsewhere than on the here and now we get less out of life, and experience less out of the overall choice of options that life has to offer?
  • god must be atheist
    2.5k
    Leona, what about the person who has never thought of his life in terms of "what is the meaning of my life", or even more basically, he never thought of his or her own life in any terms? A person who regards his or her own self just at face value, and not extrapolating from there?

    If this scenario is hard to imagine to be a case at all, think of it this way: how do you regard the meaning of your life (general you, not Leona herself in particular) at times when you are not thinking of it? that is, when you are distracted, or busy otherwise, and you are not actively thinking about the meaning of your life, then that is the situation you must imbue the person in the first paragraph, and while that scene may be temporary in your life, in the person's life it is a permanent occurrence.

    Again, the question is: do you think your hypothesis applies to people who are void of the parameters (temporarily or permanently) necessary to build the hypotheses?
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    Frankl gives no philosophical proof of this statementRafaella Leon

    Clearly, that's not a concern.
    With or without the world, he would act the same way. Acts then acquire a supra-temporal, supra-historical meaning, that is, eternally man should do so before the world exists or when it ceases to exist. Here action is taken as the direct expression of a divine quality that acts without the existence of the world.Rafaella Leon

    What kind of "acts" could take place without the world? Acts which don't require actors or something acted upon?
  • synthesis
    101
    "Man can endure anything but Meaninglessness"

    I would suggest that man can endure anything but Reality (which is why we have no access).

    If man could truly understand (intellectually), he would go insane immediately.
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