Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Unconscious Religiousness and the Men's Search for Ultimate Meaning

Victor Emil Frankl was one of the greatest psychiatrist/neurologist/philosopher of XX century. He was Holocaust survivor - prisoner of numerous concentrations camps, including Auschwitz, where his mother and brother were killed.

The book: "Men's Search for Ultimate Meaning" is his last book, for some it is a sequel to "Men's Search for Meaning" but it is rather his "credo" - and is based on his Ph.D. dissertation.
The book's main theme is the refutation of reductionism approach to human mind. In simple words he shows us that the human mind is a unique, irreductible phenomenon.
The ultimate force that drives human person, is according to Frankl, is its search for meaning,which in fact is a search of ultimate meaning, i.e. the search for transcendence.

The book has some great passages and amazing chapters. In one of them: "Unconscious Religiousness" Frankl shows how modern psychoanalysis (existential analysis) reveals the level of human mind - where the unconscious presence of transcendence becomes predominant...

There are also great passages about human love, freedom and responsibility.
He devotes a large part of the book to the problem of "existential vacuum" - the feeling of meaninglessness, that dominates our culture.

Across the book there is a lot of references to love and to its unique importance in human life. His words are stunning expression of the effort to humanize the sexual part of our life. Once we understand, that the sexual life is not a goal in itself (as it exists in modern culture), and that it is ultimate mean to be with, to know your partner - there is no longer any problem with pornography, debauchery, untruthfulness, prostitution and all other plagues related to the intimate sphere of our lives.....

What is also very important - the book has scientific character, in many places you read the language of professional psychology and psychiatry - but, even if you are not of these professions - you have no problem with deep understanding of all ideas the author expressed there.


  1. Great review - and good selection! I had seen this title earlier, and expected to find little to distinguish it from "Man's Search for Meaning". So, your contribution makes all the difference. Thanks for bringing this book out of the shadow!
    Also, I am looking forward to understanding what Frankl means by 'unconscious religiousness' - just one more reason to read this book.

  2. Unconscious religiousness, as I understand it, is a concept that puts emphasis of deep, inherent spontaneity of our religious thoughts, our relation to unknown, to transcendence, to En Sof*. When something is conscious, it assumes we must focus, or think of it, however something unconscious is like it was always there, even if we do not focus or think of it. This unconsciousness is, however, differnt from unconsciousness related to instincts, impulses etc - I'm not sure if that is what Frankl means, but this is how I understand Unconscious Religiousness...

    * En Sof - the Kabbalistic concept of utmost transcendence.