Philosophical and Psychological
Foundations of Education
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Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl, 1905-1997  

My Educational Philosophy
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Excerpts from Man's Search for Meaning

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedom—-to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 86


If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 88


"Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it." ~ Viktor Frankl quoting Spinoza's Ethics in Man's Search for Meaning, p. 95


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. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 98


It is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 98


A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how." ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 101


The immediate influence of behavior is always more effective than that of words. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 101


In the Nazi concentration camps, one could have witnessed that those who knew that there was a task waiting for them to fulfill were most apt to survive. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 126


It can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 127


I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, "homeostasis," i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 127


Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 131


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. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 133


Man constantly makes his choice concerning the mass of present potentialities; which of these will be condemned to nonbeing and which will be actualized? Which choice will be made an actuality once and forever, an immortal "footprint in the sands of time"? At any moment, man must decide, for better or for worse, what will be the monument of his existence. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 143


Man is not fully conditioned and determined but rather determines himself whether he gives in to conditions or stands up to them. In other words, man is ultimately self-determining. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 154


How can we dare to predict the behavior of man? We may predict the movements of a machine, of an automaton; more than this, we many even try to predict the mechanisms or "dynamisms" of the human psyche as well. But man is more than psyche. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 155


Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 156


A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes—within the limits of endowment and environment—he has made out of himself. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 157


Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. ~ Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 162


 

 

 
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