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The purpose of this work is to view Viktor E. Frankl’s understanding of human freedom in connection with vocation. The discussion will be based on the author’s work Man’s Search for Meaning, which is partly grounded on his experiences while being a concentration camp prisoner. It is necessary to mention that Frankl was a psychiatrist, that is why his exploration of human nature is of special interest. His book is philosophical as well because he considers such issues as personal spiritual freedom. According to Frankl, “it is this spiritual freedom… that makes life meaningful and purposeful” (67). Without this kind of freedom, life makes no sense. This is important to reveal as it is the key point of the philosopher’s view on life.
Analysis of the Theme
Firstly, it is necessary to consider what ways, according to the author’s viewpoint, help a person reach spiritual freedom. Frankl states that “one could make a victory” of both positive and negative experiences (72). It means that when one faces a challenge, he or she has a choice whether to take it or not. By overcoming the difficulties actively, one develops personal skills, character traits, and will. This idea is important for Frankl’s concept as the individual’s choice of vocation should be based on his or her free will, and the latter may be developed only by struggling against obstacles.
Secondly, the author’s opinion is that hope is extremely significant for becoming spiritually free. According to Frankl, a person who loses “faith in the future – his future – was doomed” (74). This concerns not only hardships but also any activity one takes up or any challenge one faces. In a difficult situation, either positive or negative, it is important to think over the results one may obtain, the experience he or she may gain, and the development of the personality. This is significant for Frankl’s concept in general as by hoping for the better, one wants to achieve a certain goal, and a vocation may consist of small purposes that, via their accomplishment, help reach the final one.
Thirdly, the author bases his concept on the idea that every person is special and has his or her destination in life that should be felt and adhered to. Frankl states that “what matters, is… the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment” (109). Through this thought, it is revealed that reaching the personal sense of living and freedom is impossible without realizing how one should act in the current period of life and right now.
By accomplishing the tasks that one understands, one reaches inner harmony. Without this, there may be no satisfaction with life or self-satisfaction. Doing a certain job may be a vivid example of this. Some individuals do their jobs just to earn money, and they cannot be satisfied by how they spend most of their time. At the same time, others get professions that they can enjoy; that is why they feel happy and free throughout their lives. This is significant for the whole book as for Frankl, personal freedom is the individual’s own choice of goals and the final vocation.
To conclude, Frankl views spiritual freedom as the core of the individual’s life and “the ability to feel pleased” (88). It consists of three main elements that make one free to choose the right vocation in life. The first one is the active position in life when the individual is willing to overcome any hardships and face the challenges. The second is hope and believing in the future as it helps set goals. The third is realizing one’s own destination and working on corresponding to it in actions and thoughts. All three aspects are important as they form one of the most significant points of Frankl’s philosophy. Moreover, they may help the individual choose the correct path in life and live in harmony with oneself.
Frankl, Viktor Emil. Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. Simon and Schuster, 1963.