Sunday, December 30, 2012

Existentialism and Phenomenology - Part XI


V. Existentialism and Phenomenology:

     Existentialism is the overarching umbrella that serves as the impetus for Frankl's position. According to the Existentialists, human beings are free to choose, but freedom to choose necessarily entails responsibility. Primarily, Frankl attributes the problems existing in peoples’ lives to a frustration of this freedom and hence the frustration of the will to meaning. This is the essential trademark characterizing his work of logotherapy.  Frankl states:

     Logotherapy deviates from psychoanalysis in so far as it considers man a being whose main concern consists in fulfilling a meaning, rather than in the mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts, or in merely reconciling the conflicting claims of id, ego, and superego, or in the mere adaptation and adjustment to society and environment.[i]

The phenomenological thrust underlying the work of Frankl was influenced by the work of Max Scheler (1874-1928). Scheler held the philosophical position that it is the human heart or the seat of love, rather than the transcendental ego, reason, will or sensibility, that accounts for the essence of human existence.[ii] Phenomenology, according to Frankl, is man’s attempt to discover his being-in-the-world.[iii] Evidence of this can be cited in Frankl’s definition of phenomenology when he writes:

     Phenomenology is an attempt to describe the way in which man understands himself, in which he interprets his own existence, far from preconceived patterns of interpretation and explanation such as are furnished by psychodynamic or socio-economic hypotheses.[iv]



[i]Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 126.

[ii]Graber, Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy, 35.

[iii]Ibid. 36.

[iv]Frankl, The Will to Meaning, 7.

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