Everyone agrees in one way or another that the act of valuing is a subjective process. Rogers speaks about preference. Alei Shur makes clear that we choose what we like/value and reject what we don’t like/don’t value. How does Frankl’s approach differ from Rogers? By what criteria can we identify and assert that something is a value for us? Where can we look for and where can we find values? What determines what our values will be? Where is the “self” in this picture?
“Another aspect of the infant’s approach to value is that the source or locus of the evaluating process is clearly within himself. Unlike many of us, he knows what he likes and dislikes, and the origin of these value choices lies strictly within himself. He is the center of the valuing process, the evidence for his choices being supplied by his own senses…It is from within his own experiencing that his organism is saying in non-verbal terms – “This is good for me.” “That is bad for me,” “I like this,” “I strongly dislike that.” He would laugh at our concern over values, if he could understand it. How could anyone fail to know what he liked and disliked, what was good for him and what was not?” (Freedom to Learn, Carl Rogers)
“Logotherapy…focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on man’s search for such a meaning. According to logotherapy, this striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man. That is why I speak of a will to meaning in contrast to the pleasure principle [or]…the will to power…I would not be willing to live merely for the sake of my “defense mechanisms,” nor would I be ready to die merely for the sake of my “reaction formations.” Man, however, is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values!” (Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl, p. 121)
“If meanings and values were just something emerging from the subject himself – that is to say, if they were not something that stems from a sphere beyond man and above man – they would instantly lose their demand quality. They could no longer be a real challenge to man, they would never be able to summon him up, to call him forth.” (Psychotherapy and Existentialism, Viktor Frankl, p. 64)
“The “from what” of man’s freedom is his being driven, and the “to what” is his being responsible, his having conscience…The self cannot be responsible merely to itself. The self cannot be its own lawgiver.” (Search for Ultimate Meaning)
“This meaning necessarily transcends man and his world and, therefore, cannot be approached by merely rational processes. It is rather accessible to an act of commitment which emerges out of the depth and center of man’s personality…Above all, a psychotherapist – and the logotherapist included – is neither a teacher nor a preacher…It is never up to a therapist to convey to the patient a picture of the world as the therapist sees it; but rather, the therapist should enable the patient to see the world as it is…”(Psychotherapy and Existentialism p. 57)
“Man is open to the world [and can] break through the barriers of the environment…Man is reaching out for, and actually reaching, finally attaining, the world – a world, that is, which is replete with other beings to encounter, and meanings to fulfill…” (Will to Meaning)
“What man is, he has become through that cause which he has made his own.” (Will to Meaning, Frankl)
What he is, he is not yet, but ought to be and should become. (Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning, Frankl)
“Perception is an analytical operation of thought. – Where does evaluating come from? Does it only come from qualities of personality and self interest? This view of things is too superficial. Apparently, evaluation stems from the essence of the personality. “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold; and a man is tried according to his praise.” (Proverbs 27:21) Rabbenu Yona explains: “The spiritual levels of a person are determined by what he extols. If he admires good actions, and people with wisdom and righteousness you can know and discern that he’s a good person and that a core of righteousness resides within him…” (Shaarei Teshuvah 3:148) Rabbenu Yona introduces the above paragraph with the words: “This is one of the fundamental principles of human development.” We thus see that the essence of a person is revealed through what he values!
“This is a world of values. Every person chooses the highest value in his life. For example, the reasoning ability in its perceptive function would deem a used stamp to not have any value. Yet, a person may value a used stamp in particular and see a whole collection of these as the highest value in life, and will pay a fortune for a rare used stamp. So the ability to evaluate literally creates “something from nothing” and assigns value where there was absolutely none. However, we say in our prayer on Shabbat morning: “There is nothing like the value of the Lord our G-d in this world!” and the primary function of the power of choice is to arrive at the evaluation that this is the truth.”
Thus, the difference between a person-centered and meaning-centered approach is elucidated by their concomitant views on values. For Rogers values are defined by what one wants. For Alei Shur who one is defined by what one values!
For Frankl values are something we want but we can only realize values when they address us and we give expression to them through a meaningful task that comes out of a deep sense of commitment.