Man’s Search for meaning

Man’s search for meaning is a book by Viktor Frankl, it is only a very short book really considering what it contains. Split in to two parts, the first recounts the story of his stay in the concentration camps of Germany during the Second World War, while the second is devoted to his idea of logotherapy, in which he discusses that the driving force in people is to find meaning to their life. While at times the book introduces very disturbing images, it does not shy away from the reality of the situation he found himself in, and neither does it (and this I think is more important) delve in to self-pity, hate, anger or set out to seek revenge or justice. It is a book filled with positive ideas and thoughts.

There are many individuals who through the years have said great things. There are far fewer who have actually lived up to them.

Below are a few passages from the book, I hope to add more next time I flick through it, but in the meantime if you like what you see below I strongly urge you to find a copy.

“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

“To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behaviour of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the ‘size’ of human suffering is absolutely relative.”

And in my mind the passage that sums up the book, because it leaves every one responsible for their actions

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

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