There is an absolute certainty that the Nazi concentration camps were the most dreaded historical aspect of mankind. The epitome of what horrors a man can inflict among his fellow beings. Viktor E. Frankl's Man Search for Meaning is indeed a great medium for understanding the effectuality of these camps upon the psyche of the surviving people through a direct perspective of the survivor himself. A survivor who is a psychiatrist can perfectly gauge the impact of every small incident that took place within the horrendous camps over the psyche of the inmates, who through these experiences went on to finalize his own kind of psychotherapy, a variation from psychoanalysis, aka, logotherapy.

Often the concerned book is portrayed as an existentialist read, containing practical applicability of existentialism. Part II of the book consist of a brief understanding of logotherapy which dealt with basic principles and logotherapy. Logos is a Greek word which stands for "meaning". Frankl states that contrary to the Freudian Psychoanalysis, the primary motivational force in a man is "search for meaning" in contrast to "pleasure principle". But there could lie a fallacy in presuming a necessary contrast of the former from the latter. Though Freud emphasized pleasure mostly centred along the sexual impulses but it cannot be negated with absolute certainty that the "search for meaning" is in itself a "pleasure" which humans derive from validation. Maybe it is indeed all about pleasure-principle though not necessarily sexual in nature. We, humans, yearn for meaning and validation which indeed provide a psychological pleasure; a kind of satisfaction. This yearning for validation and meaning can be an effect of the interaction of ego with the superego.

In his Noö-Dynamics' section, he emphasized the necessity of the existence of a certain degree of tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish. Also stated, "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." There exists similarity of this concept with the psychoanalysis's conceptuality that humans yearn not for the fulfilment of desire as such but of a persistent continual desire, thereby refraining itself from reaching a tensionless state of mind.

Furthermore, the most severe fallacy can be observed in the section "The Essence of Existence", where Frankl has coined a term, self-transcendence of human existence. "It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself-be it a meaning to fulfil or another human being to encounter. Self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence. The true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system." This is portrayed as an aspect of factuality on the presupposition over the opinion that meaning of life can be discovered by three means: firstly, by creating a work or doing a deed; secondly, by experiencing something or encountering someone (love); lastly, by the attitude, we take towards unavoidable suffering.

Such an approach can often deviate from the very purpose of its conception, i.e., to allow humans to derive meaning. Nothing outside to oneself is certain or known to human. We are not in control of the external aspects that surround us. Hence, an assumption with concrete certainty that being human is always directed other than oneself (outside of oneself) is a fallacy. Directing or leaving one's ability to be human to external aspects other than the self will generate vulnerability and a sense of helplessness upon that aspect being falsified. The first one being an act prone to materialism which indeed can farther a person from self-actualization. The second being an aspect exterior to oneself, voluntarily submitting the essence of our existence to be determined by a person other than the self.

Only suffering is one such aspect that allows external and internal to coincide alongside with submitting its degree of influence into the hands of the self. Frankl also distinguishes between avoidable and unavoidable suffering in order to keep away the masochism out of the purview. But in doing so, one cannot simply ignore the fact that suffering is indeed a subjective application upon human beings. Every kind of suffering is more or less avoidable and it depends upon the attitude one takes towards concerning circumstances. A lack of remorse, an overly apathetic attitude resulting inability to experience any kind of emotional response towards the external or internal circumstances, it all render suffering as avoidable to much extend.

Ultimately, Frankl in the section of "The Super-Meaning" explicitly contradicted the fundamental principle of existentialism philosophy. "What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms." Such instances in the book reaffirm the readers with the actuality of it as "a profoundly religious book" mentioned in the Preface written by Harold S. Kushner. The existence of a meaning beyond our comprehension is conceptualized out of the presumed necessity and as the only alternative towards the face of despair and helplessness that one feels out of the meaninglessness. Moreover, a supreme-meaning was needed to validate its 1984 Postscript, "The Case for a Tragic Optimism" where the only outcome of considering inherent meaningless of the existence is considered as "nihilism". It does not take into account the vast difference between nihilism and existentialism.

Our existence is what bring "meaning" into existence. It is our consciousness that validates and comprehend aspects around us. Jean-Paul Satre's phrase, "existence precedes essence" is one of the foundational principles of existentialism. When absurdism collaborates with existentialism, it induces optimism that lies within the meaninglessness of the existence as to procreate a meaning out of nothingness and thereby rebel against it by embracing what life has to offer.

Viktor E. Frankl's logotherapy considers "happiness", as a rationalized outcome of our thinking. It is in entire contradiction with the concept of absurdity and existentialism. Albert Camus in his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, states that despite knowing the futility of our being, one must continue to rebel against it by forming meaning amongst meaninglessness; order amongst chaos and thereby actualize the self by incorporating meaning within the eternal suffering.

The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

#albertcamus #psychology #existentialism #philosophy #absurdism #absurdity #sartre #existence #meaning #logotherapy #searchformeaning #logotherapy #psychoanalysis #freud

  • Aman Tiwari

Updated: Jul 27

Music is a higher revelation than philosophy.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born on 16th December 1770 in Bonn, Germany. The birth date is somewhat controversial as he was baptized within 24 hours after birth on 17th December. For the greater part of his life, he had a misconception that he was born in 1772 instead. Beethoven was born in a family of craftsmen and the only means of living was through music. His father was an ordinary court musician and succumbed to alcoholism. The godfather of Beethoven was his grandfather Kapellmeister Ludwig van Beethoven who was a prominent musician and immense source of inspiration to him. It has been pointed out that Beethoven was physically abused as a child by his father who opted harsher means to educate him in the field of music. At the age of 5, neighbours noticed that instead of following regular rigid exercises of music, he used to spend most of his time alone with a piano, fantasizing about different compositions. On March 26th, 1778, his father scheduled the first public recital titled as, "A Little Son of 6 Years", the same age when Wolfgang Mozart presented his debut. Although Beethoven was at that time 7, his recital didn't get publicity. He was pretty bad in sums and calculations and was considered as an average student in school. He showed no sign of such exemplary talent and charisma back then. Around 1784, his father lost the job at the court due to his excessive alcoholism which forced Beethoven to apply to the court for any suitable job for sustenance. Despite his young age, he was offered an Assistant's job at the court with minimal pay.

Earliest Known Composition:

In 1790 Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II died and the 19 years old Beethoven got a prestigious opportunity to present a musical composition in his memory and honour. But on account of some unknown circumstances, the composition never got the light thereby projecting doubts over his abilities. It was only after a century later, Johannes Brahms discovered that Beethoven had in fact composed a "beautiful and noble" piece of music entitled Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II. It is now considered his earliest masterpiece.

At the age of 22 in 1792, his life completely changes as he leaves home to Vienna where Joseph Haydn is already waiting for his student. Mozart's demise a year earlier proclaimed Haydn as the world's greatest composer alive. Although Haydn had initial influence over Beethoven but he always aimed for something unique, something personal. He knew his creative abilities and despised the music playing in the background while people play card. He demanded attention from others. He wanted a society free of class distinction. A free thinker. Instead of being humble to the Aristocrats, he signed his letters as "Your Friend Beethoven".

French Revolution blurred the class distinction. There was a kind of restlessness around which was incorporated by Beethoven in his music. There's this willpower in his music that one finds extremely attractive. In contrast to Mozart which had a natural flow, a kind of perfection, one-note follows another because it has to, Beethoven had unpredictability as nature of his music and with him, one note follows the other because he wanted to. He gave a personal touch to his music with its improvisation.

Born as a commoner, he always considered himself amongst the Aristocrats and at par as he thought his music as art elevates him to their status. It was only possible to publish his work through the influence of them, hence he often finds himself in a place where he didn't belong. Moreover, over the period he fell in love with aristocratic women who were out of his reach. Countess Josephine von Brunswick was one such woman who was unreachable because of her social status. "There are always countless Counts, but there's only one Beethoven."

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.

Personal Life & Despair:

Beethoven never married or had children. He was never able to overcome the shyness and inhibitions influenced by his unfortunate physical appearance. Despite his extraordinary sense of music, Beethoven was lonely and frequently miserable throughout his adult life. He was often considered as a short-tempered, absent-minded, greedy and suspicious to the point of paranoia, Beethoven feuded with relatives and patrons. His state of despair reached its pinnacle in the early 1800s as he found out about his deafness and ailments that he preferred to deny in spite of their evidentiary occurrence. He decided to leave Vienna to find a cure and treat its ailments and reached Heiligenstadt where he spent days in spa treatments and other means of cure which he elaborately explained in his letters. He even reached to the point of committing suicide and to give in to his despairs. But like Nietzsche said, "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger", he came back to Vienna and produced numerous remarkable pieces of music and marked his heroic period between 1803 to 1812.

Heiligenstadt Testament (Existential Crisis):

Often driven by extreme melancholy induced by his affliction, Beethoven described his despair in a long and poignant note that he concealed his entire life.

Dated October 6, 1802, and referred to as "The Heiligenstadt Testament," it reads in part: "O you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you and I would have ended my life — it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me."

Almost miraculously, despite his rapidly progressing deafness, Beethoven continued to compose at a furious pace. 

When Napoleon Bonaparte in 1809 conquered Vienna, Beethoven is reported to hide himself in a cellar in order to prevent excruciating pain from the loud noises of bombardment. By 1812, his long term illness became public. By that time he was suffering from acute deafness and inability to articulate any kind of noise, voice or musical note. In a desperate attempt, he also ordered four mechanical tools to enhance his hearing ability but to no avail. Living in agony but with a lust for life, he worked like a maniac, obsessed with his creative mission.

The more devastating the obstacles in his path, the greater is his determination to overcome them. His work symbolizes his urge to fight against his own fate. Then there are moments where he laments about the unfairness of it all. In contrast to his emotional state of being, his music was full of joy and ecstasy.

His last performance as a pianist in 1814 was a disaster as he couldn't able to comprehend his music. The greatest source of sorrow and despair from the inability to experience the most precious possession of his, his music grabbed him into oblivion. From 1819 onwards, he had to use "conversational notes" in order to express himself. He had produced more than 400 of such booklets showcasing Beethoven's desire and longing for companionship. He is finally separated from the world of hearing, freed from all expectations, trapped in the virtual world of his art. Only here does he find the fulfilment of his yearning for ideal love. His later compositions were having an intellectual radical aspect to them. Beethoven's music was of such unique nature that it couldn't be compared with any existing music as it was never created before. Trapped in his own world, he was light years ahead of the people who surrounded him. His deafness allowed him to elevate over the expectations of the others and to only listen to his own inner voice.

In November 1826, Beethoven caught pneumonia while returning back from countryside, travelling in an open milk carriage. In January 1827, after being bedridden for months, his organs began to fail and water started accumulating in his stomach and had to be punctured. Beethoven writes, "Unfortunately until this day, I cannot see the end of my suffering. On the contrary, on February 1827, I will have my fourth operation and if fate commands a fifth and more might come. If this continues what will become of me?" The dreaded surgery never took place. Beethoven died in Vienna on 26th March 1827 at 56 years of age, of post-hepatitic cirrhosis of the liver. Later after his death, notes in his writing suggested that they must be founded and read to the people. "O Men, when some day you read these words, reflect that you did me wrong. Attach this document to the history of my illness so that the world may be reconciled with me."

Beethoven's last words were Plaudite, amici, comoedia finita est, he said.

"Applaud friends, the comedy is over."

#beethoven #classicmusic #mozart #pianist #philosophy

Updated: Jul 27

Check Out the Official Launch Website to know more about the Novella: "An Existentialist Read".

One of the major concerns that revolve around the Novella is the valuation of objectivity and subjectivity.

"There is no inherent reason for our existence. Hence, no absolutes to abide. We determine for ourselves the definitions of right and wrong by realizing subjectivity as a virtue. There is no preordained order in this totality of chaos. Absurdity is born out of the conflict between our perception of reality and reality itself."

A famous Sophist, Protagoras believed “Man is the measure of all things.” It is Man who decides what is true and false. There exists no absolute truth, there is no absolute reason. Socrates stands in strong opposition to Protagoras and other Sophists as he believed that one can only manipulate the truth through words but he cannot transform truth to false. What is true is a truth universally and cannot be denied.

The Novella finds itself neither in conflict with Socrates nor with Protagoras. It believes that "subjectivity is a virtue that is yet to be realized." How can we realize a universal truth from our subjective nature of being? Socrates claimed the universality of truth by incorporating an objective aspect within himself, he knows only that he knows nothing. This enabled him to experience what he claimed as "universal truth". Protagoras realized subjectivity as a virtue embedded within our nature of being. But he never actualized it to form objectivity. The Novella adheres to the non-existence of absolute reason and encourages individuals to form their own reasons and shape their individuality. The only contradictory aspect incorporated by the Novella from the Protagoras is his subjective definition of truth. I find a fallacy in the analogy of Protagoras. One who understands and claims, "man is the measure of all things", how can he then nullify this claim by stating "there exists no absolute truth". If he deems latter as truth then how can he claim the universality of the former? Moreover, how can he state "there exists no absolute truth" as absolute truth?

Perception, when disguised under biased choices, leads to subjectivity and provide a scope of deviance and immorality. Criminals are born out of the unrealized subjectivity of society which is adamant to create a vision of objectivity through set principles and norms. It is this very act of denial by the society that creates a criminal of a human amongst them. In my article titled, "A Study of Criminal Behaviour (Causality & Prevention of Crime)", I have dealt with the advent of criminality as deviance in detail. Every individual is born as a deviant of society until society reforms it and overrides it with its so formed objectivity. It is necessary in times we live in to have some sort of made-up objective criteria as not every individual realizes its subjectivity before embracing it. They are then engulfed by the facade of their own set of subjectivity and develop an apathetic nature as they drift away from the empathy-based morality. Empathy and morality are indispensably attached to each other. It is our empathic nature that aligns us with morality. Morality should not be treated objectively in isolation with religion. It inadvertently occupies a subjective nature incorporating values of religion.

Non-perspectivity propagates objectivity as a universal principle of morality. An objective application of perception requires one to acknowledge the existence of subjectivity and influence of others as values, beliefs and principles that govern the subjectivity. Instead of creating a society that forces individuals to shed their individuality and incorporate its falsified objectivity, one should influence others to embrace their individuality and acknowledge their subjectivity in order to recognize their limitations. Such individuals shall act not in ignorance of their ignorance but in consonance of their ignorance to form a morality that is unbiased and unopinionated.

"Being “subjectively objective” is to encompass every subjective perspective by appreciation, making oneself unique within the opinionated crowd. Both elements of subjectivity and objectivity must be incorporated in consonance with each other as no objectivity can be comprehended by our subjective ways of being. Objectivity lies in the realization of the existence of subjective realities. The only reality is the existence of multiple realities having their inception as human consciousness, which is the sole commonality. Subjectivity came into being with the advent of the mankind. Our varied perspectives to perceive consciousness gave it a subjective nature. It is only by the process of disintegration that one actualizes the objective aspect of consciousness residing at its core."

A perfect portrayal of the existence of multiple realities and our minimalistic subjective perception. It is only upon the convergence of the realities that we understand how little we know and even out of that how little we comprehend. We must acknowledge that our perception is governed by the circumambient we live in. The latter influences our definitions of right and wrong, compile moral code to abide and exhibit an illusion of truth.

But we mustn't equate right & wrong with truth & false. There can be multiple rights & wrongs to reach the truth. One should be able to appreciate one's meagerness and should embrace it to find a purpose of exploring aspects of the universe which were non-existent before.

"We are nothing, and in its realization we are everything."

#memoir #catharticnight #existentialism #absurdism #absurd #existentialist #sartre #albertcamus #perspective #subjectivity #contemplation #materialism #self #philosophy #psychology #psychoanalysis #death #despair #hope #freud #newrelease #kafka #krishnamurti #nietzsche #zarathustra #beyondgoodandevil

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