Finding Meaning

“By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.” It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself–be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself–by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love–the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

People feel correctly, that finding meaning in life involves finding a “greater than human reality” by which they mean some kind of supernatural transcendance.  Personally I am not even sure what that entails.  But I do agree with Frankl that we desire to be part of something greater than ourselves.  Going beyond yourself (self-transcendence) certainly does not have to involve some kind of mythical being.  Loving another, being involved with community, or contributing to society are all things we can strive for that take us beyond ourselves.  If we want to go further, there is a whole universe to try and comprehend.  Anything bigger than that is unnecessary to the hypothesis.


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