The Meaning of Life continued
First, we may a need a hierarchy of values - a
hierarchy which neither Fromm nor Maslow delineate. Krishnamurti, however,
asserts that the topmost value or supreme value is LOVE.
For Rollo May, too, LOVE is the supreme value - love united with WILL, which is
essentially the personal power to make that love active in the world. May
points out that self-awareness and care are necessary if one is to choose one's values,
and a directed WILL is necessary in order to actualize them. Knowledge of self and
development of one's will are indispensable is one is to attain inner strength,
self-fulfillment and the capacity to love.
For Paul Tillich, LOVE is the supreme value too - love united with faith in Jesus.
Love and faith give us the freedom and courage to be ourselves, to
realize ourselves, and enable us to transcend ourselves... Accepted by Jesus, we
rise above the fear of death, the anxiety of guilt, and the despair of a meaningless
existence. Tillich is concerned with our relationship to ourselves, but only as a means to
freeing ourselves from the bondage of that self.
Frankl too emphasizes love: In Man's Search for Meaning, he wrote, "The truth that
love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire... The salvation of man
is through love and in love." (p.58).
Frankl and Heschel, however, are most explicitly concerned with man's directedness
toward the world. For them, the self is realized when our supreme
values are realized in the world - through sacred deeds or one's chosen task.
Thus it appears that self-actualization and self-transcendence do not have to be in
opposition at all. If we choose goals and values outside ourselves and
direct ourselves toward them, then we are actualizing
ourselves THROUGH self- transcendence.
Only when we choose the wrong values, relegate a lesser value to a higher
priority, or lack the will to put our values into action are self-
actualization and self-transcendence really in conflict.
Charlotte Buhler wrote: "It seems to be true that we find our most complete
fulfillment if we can be ourselves and do what we like to do while dedicating ourselves to a
task we believe in. In this, we transcend ourselves, and simultaneously satisfy ourselves.
One without the other throws us off balance."
It is necessary, however, for us to know ourselves, care about ourselves,
choose the right values, and will them into action if we are to actualize ourselves
by transcending ourselves.
For Frankl and Heschel, self-actualization is achieved through a chosen commitment in the
world rather than through the constant preoccupation with self-development. For Frankl,
one discovers meaning by responding to life "by being responsible."
Various existential psychologists and religious thinkers, critiquing Fromm and Maslow,
make a similar distinction. Peter Bertocci, in Personality and the Good,
points out the Fromm and Maslow are oriented toward need-fulfillment rather than
goal-attainment. They do not posit a direction or goal outside the self toward which one
can strive. For them, the goal IS the self.
In To Deny our Nothingness, Maurice Friedman noted that
for Fromm there is "the curious inversion which makes the development of
man's powers the end, that for which these powers to to be developed the means.
" (p.234) Friedman then asserted, "Growth is not
necessarily a good unless implicit in the concept of growth is growth in the
direction which realizes values." (p.238)
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