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The Confusion between Frankl’s Values and Universal Values

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Presentation at the 19th World Congress on Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy, 2013, Dallas, TX, USA

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The Confusion between Frankl’s Values and Universal Values

  1. 1. The Confusion between Frankl’s Values and Universal Values 19th World Congress on Logotherapy, June 19-23, 2013, Dallas, Texas© TIMO PURJO
  2. 2. Timo Purjo timo.purjo@nfg.fi  Doctor of philosophy (philosophy of education, ethics, value education), University of Tampere, Finland  Diplomate Educator in Logotherapy, Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy  Founder, Vice-Chairman and Director (R&D) of Non Fighting Generation (NGO), Finland  Faculty member of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy  Chairman of Friends of Viktor Frankl Institute ry, Finland © TIMO PURJO
  3. 3. Outline 1. Introduction 2. Research questions 3. Method/key literature 4. Findings 5. Discussion/conclusion 6. References 7. Time for questions © TIMO PURJO
  4. 4. 1. Introduction 2. Research questions  One of the most misunderstood issues of Logotherapy and Existential analysis (LTEA) is the concept of values. It seems that the idea of permanent universal values is often confused with the concept of universal potential meanings which Frankl also refers to as values.  I investigate Frankl’s value concepts as they developed from 1925 to 1995: how did he see the essence of values, and what did he mean by values as potential meanings.  I argue that Frankl has, as the basis of his universal potential meanings – the so called values of Logotherapy – the objective and absolute values as defined by Max Scheler! © TIMO PURJO
  5. 5. 3. Method/key literature  Method – Hermeneutic phenomenological method – Dialog with literature – Phenomenological attitude  Key literature – Two main sources of information  The fourth part of Frankl’s compiled works  The manuscript of Frankl’s main work Ärztliche Seelsorge 1942 1945, & 2005; 4 articles from years 1925-1939 in which Frankl is developing his future theory  The article collection published in the congress in honor of Frankl’s 90th anniversary  The conversation Wolfram Kurz & Viktor Frankl in front of the audience © TIMO PURJO
  6. 6. The development of Frankl’s value concepts in 1925-1995  1925: “It is not possible to prove the existence of values a priori”, i.e. before they are experienced; “there are no absolute values, values that are independent of [some person’s] value giving will”  1927  Max Scheler’s basic work on value philosophy, Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values (English translation)  1938: The question is about directedness towards such values which are related (or recurred) to timeless or time defying, absolute and objective values. The bliss of being human and permanent happiness is based on humans’ realization of the highest possible values within the limits of their own unrepeatable existence and their unique fate. © TIMO PURJO
  7. 7. The development of Frankl’s value concepts in 1925-1995  1942 – 1945/1946: Ärztliche Seelsorge (English translation The Doctor and the Soul based on 1945/1946 edition)  Frankl expresses the view of values being absolute and objective i.e. their existence a priori, that he adopted from Scheler  He also speaks about the world of values as the transcending world of objective and absolute actual facts  1942 unfinished script of Ärztliche Seelsorge  Frankl starts to outline the directedness and opening towards values behind the meanings of the moment in terms of experiences. As examples of objective and absolute values, he mentions ethical and aesthetic values and, of the latter ones, he names specifically the value of beauty. © TIMO PURJO
  8. 8. The development of Frankl’s value concepts in 1925-1995  1938: Frankl outlines 3 different possibilities of being directed towards values 1) Creative realization of values or making the values become real through creative activity 2) Experience of fulfilment in putting one’s soul into something (enjoyment of arts or nature) 3) Attitudinal values referring to the steadfast bearing of the blows of fate and the realization of such values as bravery, courage, and personal dignity © TIMO PURJO
  9. 9. The development of Frankl’s value concepts in 1925-1995  1995: Frankl states that the question about the essence of values is no longer as important to him as before and that he is satisfied with less from that point of view. This also means that, with his patients, he discusses only the concrete potential meanings and not about values as such. ∑ After writing his scientific main work, Frankl strived to develop logotherapy all the time in a more practical and simultaneously more concise direction. ∑ It is unlikely that he would have rejected his earlier value theories based on Scheler’s value theory! © TIMO PURJO
  10. 10. The essence of values  In his basic work Formalism etc. (Der Formalismus…) Max Scheler strives to define permanent universal values in order to avoid the danger that humans will gradually extend the concept of values and start to think that all kinds of causes that they consider worth striving for are virtues. According to Scheler’s value theory, the value truth is much more comprehensive than an individual’s or society’s conceptions of values. Scheler speaks about permanent universal values to refer to the kind of values that are independent of both individual humans’ subjective valuation and the prevailing valuations in single societies and cultures. Their nature is thus transpersonal and overall human. The essence of this kind of values is their validity irrespective of the time and place. Therefore they can be viewed as or spoken about as absolute, objective, or actual values. © TIMO PURJO
  11. 11. The essence of values  Value, valuable and valuation  Values:  Valuable in the transpersonal, human, and universal sense  Precious to all individual persons because they are human beings  For example, life, personhood, health, spiritual development, wisdom, and justice are indisputably humanly valid values. In Antique philosophy, goodness, beauty, and truth are considered central values. Also love has been considered an overall human value throughout the history of humankind. These real values can also be called spiritual and ethical values.  Provide a foundation for the critical evaluation of various individuals’ or communities’ valuations  The key to internal wellbeing, experiences of a permanently good life and holistic happiness © TIMO PURJO
  12. 12. The essence of values © TIMO PURJO Figure 1. The levels of values and disvalues (adapted from Max Scheler’s value theory)
  13. 13. The essence of values © TIMO PURJO  As humans are spiritual beings, their growth and development specifically require an abundance of spiritual values; therefore, their highest values ought to belong to the group of spiritual values. With good reason, persons who have acquired a sufficient number of spiritual values to their worldview can be called civilized.  However, according to Scheler, even being civilized is not enough as humans must strive to reach the highest level, the area of holy values. The core value of the holy value level is the value of the person, and the values of the holy are encountered in the experience of love that the encounter of two persons makes possible.
  14. 14. The essence of values © TIMO PURJO  There are basic values which are not created by humans but which are preconditions for human life. They are not determined on the basis of people’s liking, rather, liking is evaluated in their light. They are not the result of cultural development, but a precondition for cultural development. They are not determined even as the result of critical discussion because critical discussion is possible only on the basis of the basic values that are required for the discussion.  Humans are born to the reality in which the basic values already exist. If there were no values, there would not be humanity either. Basically this includes the assumption that human life gains its value and meaning in the light of something that is more permanent and greater than the humans. Values determine humans’ meaning structure and meaning horizon in addition to giving a meaning to their lives.
  15. 15. The essence of values © TIMO PURJO  Value analysis can be a useful means of assessing the value systems of different cultures. Every historical culture as well as every culture in today’s world display part of the permanent values. None of them can represent the whole truth about values, and in this respect all cultures are in the same position. All different cultures are equal and imperfect in the same way.  The objective values provide an opportunity for creating mutual understanding and, at its best, also for unanimity about at least the universal applicability of the fundamental intrinsic values. This opens up an opportunity for the kind of dialogue between different cultures that can lead to an expanding value system, adopting new values, and fixing biased value systems. Then it is possible for all cultures to learn from each other the kind of ethos, norms, and customs, which makes it possible to realize universal values in daily practice more and more perfectly.
  16. 16. Values or potential meanings? © TIMO PURJO  Frankl created his own “value theory” in which “values” are existential pointers of direction and facilitators in decision-making. “Values” are, accordingly, universal ethical and moral principles. When humans base their choices on “values” in all unique situations, it is possible for them to live meaning-filled lives. The “values” of Logotherapy are thus potential meanings.  The “values” of Logotherapy are comprehensive, generally potential meanings, meanings that have not yet been realized at an individual level. “Values” are routes to discovering the meanings of each moment. People can lead rich lives by realizing potential meanings that are in accord with “values”.
  17. 17. Values or potential meanings? © TIMO PURJO  Frankl divides “values” into three categories reflecting three different main routes to discovering meaning. These three value categories are creative values, experiential values, and attitudinal values. As the question is about universally potential meanings, all people in the world can realize creative, experiential, and attitudinal values in their lives, although in their individual ways.  Frankl defines values entirely differently than they are generally understood and he also gives them different signification than they have been given earlier in “The essence of values”. However, in the background of Frankl’s values it is possible to see a clear connection to Plato’s universal values, goodness, beauty, and truth – just in the same way as they can be recognized also at the background of Scheler’s spiritual values.
  18. 18. Values or potential meanings? © TIMO PURJO  Love does not actually belong to Platonic values but there is a clear connection between values and Plato’s writings about the most developed forms of love. This kind of spiritual love that exceeds falling in love, sexuality, and eroticism has also been called Platonic love. As such, love can be regarded as the most fundamental quality of beauty or even as an independent value at a higher level than beauty.  No human can accomplish Platonic values, as they exist only as ideal forms apart from space and time. It is only possible to strive for them and be directed towards them. The “values” defined by Frankl help to understand what kind of means or ways of acting are available for being directed towards universal values and their goals.
  19. 19. 5. Discussion/conclusion © TIMO PURJO  The right understanding of the essence of values guides humans towards the potential meanings that are offered at each moment. Only sufficient knowledge of values makes it possible to see and choose the meaningful ones among the emerging alternatives and reject those which do not realize any values.
  20. 20. 6. References  Batthyany, A., Biller, K. & Fizzotti, E. (Hg.) (2011). Viktor E. Frankl – Gesammelte Werke, Band 4. Ärztliche Seelsorge. Grundlagen der Logotherapie und Existenzanalyse. Und Vorarbeiten zu einer sinnorientierten Psychotherapie. Wien: Böhlau.  Frankl, V. E. (1971). The Doctor and the Soul. New York: Bantam Books.  Kurz, W. (1996). Gespräch mit Viktor Frankl. In M. Seidel (Hg.). Die Kunst, sinnvoll zu leben. Bericht über die Jubiläumstagung zum 90. Geburtstag von Viktor Frankl. Vorträge und Seminare, Wien, 19./20. Mai 1995 (pp. 17–30). Institut für Logotherapie und Existenzanalyse. Tübingen: Lebenskunst.  Scheler, M. (1973). Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values (M. S. Frings & R. L. Funk, Trans.). Evanston: Nortwestern University Press.  Scheler, M. (2000). Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik. 7. durchgesehene und verbesserte Ausgabe. Bonn: Bouvier. © TIMO PURJO
  21. 21. 6. References  Timo Purjo’s book about Viktor Frankl’s logotheory will be published soon in English… © TIMO PURJO
  22. 22. 7. Questions? © TIMO PURJO

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