14 May 2013

The seeming and the meaning

"Every American student, is regarded as just someone out to make a lot of money. Really 16% of these students regard it as their main goal and concern in life to make a lot of money. And you know what the top category was among students? … 78% of these American youngsters were concerned as they expressed it themselves, with finding a meaning and purpose in their lives.

… If you take man as he really is, we will make him worse but if we overestimate him, if we seem idealist, overestimating, overrating man, and looking at him that high (pointing upwards), here above, you know what happens? We promote him to what he can really be. So we have to be idealist in a way because then we wind up as the true, the real realists.

And do you know who said this? This was Goethe. He said this verbally and now you will understand why in one of my writings I said that this is the most apt maxim and motto for psychotherapeutic activity.

So if don’t recognise a young man’s way to meaning, a man’s search for meaning, you make him worse. You make him dull. You make him frustrated. You contribute to his frustration, while if you presuppose in this man, this so called criminal or juvenile delinquent or drug abuser, there must be a spark of search for meaning. Let’s recognise this. Let’s presuppose this and then you will elicit this from him and you will make him become what he in principle is capable of becoming.”

NOTE | This video is from a 1972 lecture in Toronto, Canada; this and other full-length recordings of him can be seen: here

Mainly I'm a fan of Goethe.