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Meaning in every moment

5 July, 2007

Viktor Frankl believed that many people suffer because their life has no meaning. How de we find meaning in life? Maybe there is no single big ‘Meaning’ in everyone’s life. Maybe it’s simply a lot of little meanings.

 “… consider a movie: it consists of thousands upon thousands of individual pictures, and each of them makes sense and carries a meaning, yet the meaning of the whole film cannot be seen before its last sequence is shown. However, we cannot understand the whole film without having first understood each of its components, each of the individual pictures.

Isn’t it the same with life? Doesn’t the final meaning of life, too, reveal itself, if at all, only at its end, on the verge of death?

And doesn’t this final meaning, too, depend on whether or not the potential meaning of each single situation has been actualized to the best of the respective individual’s knowledge and belief?

… The fact remains that meaning, and its perception, as seen from the logotherapeutic angle, is completely down to earth rather than afloat in the air or resident in an ivory tower.Sweepingly, I would locate the cognition of meaning —of the personal meaning of a concrete situation—midway between an “aha” experience along the lines of Karl Biihler’s concept and a Gestalt perception, say, along the lines of Max Wertheimer’s theory.… the perception of meaning, as I see it, more specifically boils down to becoming aware of a possibility against the background of reality or, to express it in plain words, to becoming aware of what can be done about a given situation.

Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor, founder of Logotherapy, in Man’s search for meaning.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 July, 2007 1:09 pm

    Frankl has had 3 different tries at meaning so far in these posts. This one seems the least plausible, that an “action plan” is the meaning. I have been thinking about it since you posted without insight. A priest I knew insisted that the only necessary justification for a life is that God loves you. That’s not a bad bottom line. Lust for life would be a cellular level action plan that could be a bottom line – coma, stroke, alzheimers and brain injury victims cling tenaciously to life long after any hope has passed. Frankl’s situation would seriously test this theory though, a miserable psyche could exercise control over it’s own existence and misery with good reason unless it was duty bound as he suggests.

  2. 12 July, 2007 10:21 am

    Interesting that you read it that way.
    What I got from this quote was that we none of us should seek a big ‘Meaning of Life’ (capital M, capital L), but rather we should accept that we construct meaning in every moment, and it’s up to us to decide what meaning we give our lives in every moment. (This is easier for me to write today, than yesterday when I was stuck in bed with the flu).

    It certainly does seem that at the cellular (= ?’spiritual’?) level there is a tenacious lust for life; maybe since humans developed consciousness and reflexivity we lost touch with that fundamental lust?

    Am I rambling? must be the fever.

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