Man’s Search For Meaning

And as we get lost in the “Cloud” and “Metaverse” and so forth, what should not get lost is the fact that meaning determines everything. Yet the paradox is that even though meaning exists and that meaning determines everything, meaning is “indeterminate.” But as has been said, even though meaning is indeterminate, it is still the case that meaning “is still meaning.” And just like anything else in life which requires contemplation and thought, meaning is currently up for interpretation. 

The famous psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl employed an analogy in order to demonstrate that meaning is essentially a potential in life that is to be actualized as life progresses. Frankl wrote: 

“To invoke an analogy, 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?”

In short, life is all about creating and cultivating a life that is ultimately well-lived. Even the best revenge in life is a life that is well-lived. Frankl added: “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.” And the life of this world, as William James wrote, is amidst a “compound world” which if not kept intact leads to a pathological experience in life. James wrote that “the practically real world for each one of us, the effective world of the individual, is the compound world, the physical facts and emotional values in indistinguishable combination.” James added: “Withdraw or pervert either factor of this complex resultant, and the kind of experience we call pathological ensues.” 

And to experience the emotional values of life such as love is essentially a gift that is bestowed to us beyond our control. Love, arguably, is the output of our inputs into life, and such gifts and passions such as love are the only things which make life interesting and worth living. As James wrote: “And as the excited interest which these passions put into the world is our gift to the world, just so are the passions themselves gifts, – gifts to us, from sources sometimes low and sometimes high; but almost always non-logical and beyond our control.” 

In a sense, the time is ripe to stop analyzing and criticizing and to start living and pursuing the basic passions and sensations in life which make life worth living. That is essentially the cure in a nutshell. As Carl Jung wrote: 

“There are many well-educated patients who flatly refuse to consult the clergyman. With the philosopher they will have even less to do, for the history of philosophy leaves them cold, and intellectual problems seem to them more barren than the desert. And where are the great and wise men who do not merely talk about the meaning of life and the world, but really possess it? Human thought cannot conceive any system or final truth that could give the patient what he needs in order to live: that is, faith, hope, love, and insight.” 

Jung added: “These four highest achievements of human effort are so many gifts of grace, which are neither to be taught nor learned, neither given nor taken, neither withheld nor earned, since they come through experience, which is something given, and therefore beyond the reach of human caprice. Experiences cannot be made. They happen – yet fortunately their independence of man’s activity is not absolute but relative. We can draw closer to them – that much lies within our human reach.” 

In short, the meaning of life – which in turn explains everything else in life – is to be found in an experience, journey, and venture “which requires us to commit ourselves with our whole being.” Thus, it begs the question: who will have the courage and the will to commit and not be flimsy? 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s