Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning

Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning

Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning

Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning


Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning focuses on Dr. Frankl's crucial findings that illustrate our sometimes unconscious desire to get hold of an ultimate meaning of life - whether it comes from a religious source or other venue of inspiration or influence. This is a very relevant topic, especially in light of that pervasive feeling of meaninglessness undercutting the ideas and ambitions of contemporary society. Whether it is the adolescent suffering from insecurity and doubt or the elderly person fearing isolation and neglect, a desperate sense of hopelessness and vulnerability plagues our culture. Dr. Frankl brilliantly demonstrates that it is possible for mankind to find, and actualize, profound meaning in his or her daily life. In this context, Frankl speaks of a "will to meaning" as a central motivating force, and presents specific evidence that life can offer meaning in each and every situation. For even those who have to shoulder the burden of personal guilt, or to face the force of inescapable suffering, still have, in principle, a unique opportunity to turn a predicament into an achievement - in other words, to turn personal tragedy into human triumph. Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning confesses that this search for meaning can also lead to nefarious ends such as unhealthy nationalism, obsessive jealousies, ethnic hatred, or a compulsive work ethic. Dr. Frankl believes that tolerance and a realization of our infinite possibilities throughout our finite existence will ensure a path to a fulfilling existence.


The main title of this book is identical with the title of the Oskar Pfister Award Lecture that I gave at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in 1985. The text of this lecture is reprinted here as Chapter 9. As for the first part of this volume, it has already been published under the title "The Unconscious God" in 1975, the English translation of "Der unbewusste Gott," published in 1947. This book, in turn, had been based on the manuscript for a presentation I had been invited to give in Vienna, only a few months after the end of the war.

The "printing history" of the present volume thus goes back some 50 years. Perusing what I wrote in 1947, in 1975, and in 1985, I feel that it is, as a whole, a consistent sequence of presentations of some substantial thoughts regarding a quite important subject. Hopefully, then, some of what I have written throughout these decades may be of value to some readers.

However it may be--"See, I have not kept my lips closed."


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