Free Will?

You are free despite what you may think. It is how you feel that counts. Through your freedom you are not only able to detach yourself from any situation, but you are also capable of self-detachment. In other words, you have the power to take a stand against yourself, choose an attitude towards your own psychological character.

A good illustration of this is from the Great war when a Jewish military Doctor in the Austrian army was sitting next to a Colonel when heavy shooting began. Teasingly the Colonel said ” Just another proof that the Ayrian race is superior to the Semetic one! You are afraid aren’t you?”. “sure, I am afraid, ” was the Doctor’s answer. “But who is superior? If you, my dear Colonel, were as afraid as I am, you would have run away long ago.”

Fear and anxiety as such do not count. What matters is our attitude towards these facts, rather than the facts themselves. This also applies to the facts of our working life.

To be responsible you have to be free, but then again you can be free without being responsible. There are many examples of freedom without responsibility in Ireland and globally throughout history. To take responsibility for ones actions and be willing to live with the consequences for the rest of your life takes courage. Striving for excellence to become who you are meant to become, requires initiative, an optimistic mind set, determination and resilience. Not having the capacity to take the initiative is apathy, one of two key symptoms of the existential vacuum – the void that is created when our search for meaning gets frustrated – the other symptom being boredom, not having the capacity to take an interest.

Do you feel free and if so, when was the last time you exercised your freedom? Are you in a position of responsibility but not authority and have you ever thought about the implications of this position?

bird[1]Freedom of will means the freedom of human will and is the will of a finite human being, within limits but without any religious connotation (Frankl, 1967, p.16)[i]. Freedom of will stands firmly against reductionism where Frankl’s views are that no person should be explained solely from just one perspective. We must strive to know the whole person, the naturally integrated multi dimensional person, while remembering our subjective perspective is limited (Frankl, 2004, p.x1)[ii].

This touches on Frankl’s theory of knowledge where his broad experience and evidence opens the possibility of “gaining knowledge of the whole person and not merely of what individual sciences reveal” (Frankl, 2004, p. Xiii)[iii] and that we experience the objective world from a limited subjective perspective. Frankl understood from experience that man’s freedom is no freedom from conditions but rather freedom to take a stand on whatever conditions may confront him (Frankl, 1997, p.16)[iv].

Logotherapy understands human beings to be finite beings, as mans freedom is a freedom within limits (Frankl, 1967, p.14)[v]. Therefore we are not free from conditions but remain free to take a stand toward those conditions, in other words, free to choose an attitude and shape his own character.

This is a key message for the business community in general and the project community in particular, as attitudinal change or adjustment when faced with many non-predictable and non-repeatable events, is our responsibility.

Knowing we are free to choose an attitude unblocks access to the power of the human resources within us, as being free to rise above the plane of psychological and biological determinants opens a new dimension, what logotherapy calls the noetic dimension as distinct from somatic (bodily) or psychic (mental) phenomena. This touches on another element of Frankl’s Meta psychology namely the dimensions of the human being.

Human beings are capable of taking a stand towards the world and themselves, capable of reflecting on and rejecting themselves, assuming that human beings can be their own judge of their own deeds.

A human being is also capable of detaching himself from himself (Frankl, 1967, p.15)[vi]. This empirical fact was explained most powerfully by Frankl during an interview with Huston C. Smith of Harvard who at the time of the interview was at MIT “when Smith asked me whether I as a professor of neurology and psychiatry would not concede that man is subject to conditions and determinants? I answered that as a neurologist and psychiatrist, of course, I am fully aware of the extent to which man is not at all free from conditions, be they biological, psychological or sociological.

th (2)But I added that along with being a professor in two fields of neurology and psychiatry, I am the survivor of four camps, that is, concentration camps and as such, I bear witness to the unexpected extent to which man is, and always remains, capable of resisting and braving even the worst conditions. To detach oneself from even the worst conditions is a uniquely human capability” (Frankl, 1970, p.16)[vii].

The analogy with dimensions is a fundamental part of Frankl’s theory and therapy of Logotherapy and existential analysis, as the term higher dimension, means more inclusive, as opposed to a value statement or judgement.

A higher dimension includes the lower dimensions, overarching them to the point where the lower ones are “subsumed in it, and encompassed by it. (Frankl, 2011, p. 16)[viii]. In other words a higher dimension includes the lower but transcends them[1].

According to Frankl human beings are naturally integrated beings with three basic dimensions, the somatic dimension of the body or soma that is the biological dimension. The mental dimension is the level of psychological processes the psyche, the psychological dimension and the spiritual or noological is noos, the noetic or noological dimension (Frankl, 2004, p. Xiii)[ix]. This is logotherapy’s tri-dimensional ontology (Frankl, 1970, p.23)[x].

Logotherapy sees the essence of existence as transcendence and by considering the specifically human phenomenon of self-transcendence it means that human beings are always directed toward something other than themselves, for example, a meaning to be fulfilled or another person. Frankl maintains that man is always reaching out for a meaning, always setting out on his search for a meaning “what I call the will to meaning is even to be regarded as mans primary concern” (Frankl, 2004, p. Xv)[xi].

This assumption can be difficult for people to understand which makes Frankl’s use of the geometrical concept of dimensions as an analogy for qualitative differences that do not destroy the unity of a structure very thought provoking. As Logotherapy views man as being three dimensional as opposed to modes of being that can be separated from one another in layers or strata (Frankl, 1970 p. 22)[xii] it helps to ask the question “do we always know what casts a shadow”?.0e94613694ac572e45d8b1b3569b589e

If we look at an open cup and project a light down on it vertically we see a shadow that is a circle. If we project the same light on the cup horizontally we see a rectangular shadow.

This provokes a number of questions. Why were we not able to conceive the circular and rectangular shadow in the cup in the first place? Why are the shadows two dimensional, yet the cup is three dimensional? Not only do the shadows contradict themselves in that one is a circle and one is a rectangle, but the shadows also contradict the cup from which they are projected from in the first place.

As the cup is open why are the shadows closed? This also suggests that while the shadows may contradict each other in two closed dimensions, they seem compatible with what is open in a higher dimension (Frankl, 1970, p. 23)[xiii].

This compatibility assumes integration and qualitative preservation in the lower dimensions.  If we take this analogy and apply it to man, we get similar contradictions. Let us assume the circular shadow is a biological organism and the rectangular shadow is a psychological mechanism, both contradictory and closed, but projected from a third dimension that is assumed to be as open as the cup. Does this not also help us understand why our mental and physical dimensions have to necessarily contradict each other by nature of their boundedness, but do not have to be incompatible with a higher dimension, a more inclusive and encompassing dimension, from where they are both projected from in the first place?

This allows us take a step beyond the step taken by Socrates who said that he “only knew that he did not know anything” as we now know why we cannot know everything and why we cannot understand everything. (Frankl, 1970, p.147)[xiv].Socrates

More importantly what we do understand as Frankl goes on to say is that “something which seems to be impossible in a lower dimension, is perfectly possible in a higher one” (Frankl, 1970, p. 148)[xv]. This has implications to the way we understand what we know and what can harm us that we don’t know when you consider that Arthur Clarke once observed that “cave dwellers froze to death on beds of coal” (O’Dell & Grayson, 1998, p. ix)[xvi].

It can also impact our disposition and relationship towards the world, how we perceive ourselves and our fellow human beings in terms of if and how we reduce them, from where they may be coming from in the first place and the implications of that reductionism on our attitudes leading to behaviour affecting communication and the outcome of that communication.

The noological dimension is the dimension that has received the least amount of attention in the fields of psychiatry and psychology according to Debois (Frankl, 2004, p. Xiv)[xvii]. He states the term noological is preferred over spiritual that has religious overtones and is used partly due to its unfamiliarity (Frankl, 2004, p.xiv)[xviii].

The noological dimension distinguishes itself from the mental or psychological dimension in five ways; first it is the only dimension at which freedom and responsibility exist. Logotherapy recognizes the “defiant power of the human spirit”, the ability to take a free stance towards our fate and the things that determine us at any given time from the somatic biological and psychological dimensions.

Second, the conscience – the ‘organ’ of meaning is natural to human beings who are characterized by a will to meaning.  guilty-conscience-ccfl-yashna13

Third is that this dimension properly distinguishes us from animals as no dog can laugh, or has a conscience.

Fourth, Frankl suggests that the person as a spiritual being can never get sick, yet a biologically caused mental disorder, like major depression may affect the operations of the spirit: for example it may leave people unable to express themselves fully and unable to perceive values rightly. People become ill only in their somatic biological or psychological dimensions.

Fifth is the interaction that takes place with the somatic biological and psychological dimensions. A perceived lack of meaning can contribute to the development of neuroses like anxiety just as a strong sense of meaningfulness can be psychohygienic and provide resistance even to bodily illness (Frankl, 2004, p.xiv)[xix].

The noological dimension is where the uniquely human phenomena are located such as intuition, conscience, laughter, heroism, humour, love, patience and is understood in logotherapy as the “anthropological rather than the theological dimension” (Frankl, 1997, p. 17)[xx] [2]. By being free to choose an attitude logotherapy believes the capacity to do so, is only complete within the total phenomenological analysis, if rendered in to the freedom to also take responsibility (Frankl, 1967, p.67)[xxi].

By not recognizing this freedom to responsibility it “threatens to degenerate in to mere arbitrariness, unless it is lived in terms of responsiblenness” (Frankl, 1970, p.49)[xxii] [3].

If we take this analogy and apply it to project management, we will view the lower dimensions assumed to be both the multidimensional aspects of planning, people and control and the multi dimensional project types of product, process and culture (Graham, 1989, P. 8)[xxiii], through the lens of Logotherapy and existential analysis from a higher human dimension of the person and culture, to make use of the geometrical concept of dimensions as a way to show that the wholeness of a model need not be destroyed by competing contradictions.

The analogy will show that the qualitative differences need not destroy the unity of a structure (Frankl, 1997, p. 23)[xxiv].

The assumption here is that the two lower dimensions of a project are not only overshadowed and subsumed within the humanness of the person dimension, but are incorporated in to this higher dimension that constitutes the lower, but transcends them (Frankl, 1997, p. 26)[xxv] [4].

I offer tailored workshops, one to one mentoring and small group discussions on how to feel free, access your noetic core and challenge the qualitative aspects of an assumed tri-dimensional ontology.

 

 

[1] In The Will to Meaning Frankl states how he “well remembers how insistent and inquisitive that late Paul Tillich was in the question and answer period following my presentation of dimensional ontology at a faculty luncheon of Harvard’s divinity school. He was satisfied only after I had defined the higher dimension as a more inclusive one”. P.26.

[2] Where is the place for grace in logotherapy? This is a topic that needs more time and space than this thesis can give it. Frankl distinguishes the difference between logotherapy and theology as the formers job is to heal the soul, while the latters is to save it.

[3] Frankl goes on to say that “the statue of liberty on the East Coast should be supplemented by a statue of Responsibility on the West Coast” (Frankl, 2004, p. 134) Mans Search for Meaning.

[4] Frankl goes on to say this is a crucial issue in anthropology as “it implies no more nor less than the recognition that man, by having become a human being, in no way ceases to remain an animal, any more than an airplane ceases to be capable of moving around the ground of the airport”. The Will to meaning P.27.

[i] Frankl, Viktor. Psychotherapy & Existentialism. USA, Penguin Books, 1967

[ii] Frankl, Viktor. On the Theory and Therapy of mental Disorders. UK, Brunner-Routledge, 2004

[iii] Frankl, Viktor. On the Theory and Therapy of mental Disorders. UK, Brunner-Routledge, 2004

[iv] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[v] Frankl, Viktor. Psychotherapy & Existentialism. USA, Penguin Books, 1967

[vi] Frankl, Viktor. Psychotherapy & Existentialism. USA, Penguin Books, 1967

[vii] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[viii] Frankl, Viktor. Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning. USA, Random House Group, 2011.

[ix] Frankl, Viktor. On the Theory and Therapy of mental Disorders. UK, Brunner-Routledge, 2004

[x] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[xi] Frankl, Viktor. On the Theory and Therapy of mental Disorders. UK, Brunner-Routledge, 2004

[xii] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[xiii] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[xiv] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[xv] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[xvi] Carla O’Dell and C Jackson Grayson. If Only We Knew What We Know, USA, Simon & Schuster Inc, 1998.

[xvii] Frankl, Viktor. On the Theory and Therapy of mental Disorders. UK, Brunner-Routledge, 2004

[xviii] Frankl, Viktor. On the Theory and Therapy of mental Disorders. UK, Brunner-Routledge, 2004

[xix] Frankl, Viktor. On the Theory and Therapy of mental Disorders. UK, Brunner-Routledge, 2004

[xx] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[xxi]Frankl, Viktor. Psychotherapy & Existentialism. USA, Penguin Books, 1967

[xxii] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970

[xxiii] Graham, Robert. Project Management as if People Mattered, USA, Primavera Press, 1989

[xxiv] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.

[xxv] Frankl, Viktor. The Will to Meaning. USA, Penguin Books, 1970.