Die Anerkennung

The identification of something as having been previously seen, heard, known, etc.

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How the Holocaust Birthed the Meaning of Life:

In Frankl’s personal account of discovering sources of strength to survive the Nazi Regime’s network of concentration and extermination camps, he comes to the conclusion that as humans we give our suffering meaning by the way we respond to it. In other words, one cannot control what happens to them but they can always control how they feel and how they act.

He states that the greatest task for any person to find is meaning in their life. Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of life is but recognize that it is he who is asked. Each man is questioned by life and only he can answer to life by answering for his own life. In other words, life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. This is achieved through three possibilities:

1. Our work
– An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realize values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfillment in experiencing beauty, art, and nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creativity and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high molar behavior; man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces.
2. Our love for others
-In love, man sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized.
3. Our survival
-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 irrelevant. Persons facing difficult choices may not fully appreciate how much their own attitude interferes with the decision they need to make or action they need to take.

Frankl concludes that this self-actualization of the human spirit is only made as a side-effect of self-transcending our ego. He recommends that man needs to put himself in an environment of “noo-dynamics”, a polar field of tension in which one pole represents meaning that is to be fulfilled and the other pole by the mean who has to fulfill it since as social creates we either wish to do what other people do or what other people wish us to do. For success, like happiness cannot be pursued; it must be ensued, and only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a greater cause than oneself.

Frankl writes that today’s society is characterized by achievement orientation and consequently adores people who are successful and happy in particular. It virtually ignores the value of those who are otherwise, and in so blurs the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and sense of usefulness. For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best. Since Auschwitz, we know what ma is capable of. And since Hiroshima, we know what is at stake.

“Life is like being at the dentist you always think the worst is still to come, and yet is already over” – Viktor E. Frankl