Tag Archives: World War II

Moral Complexity and Viktor Frankl’s ‘Logotherapy’ – Part 4 of 5

This is the fourth part of a five-part essay comparing and contrasting the moral systems of the Dalai Lama, Andre Comte-Sponville, and Viktor Frankl with regard to how well (or poorly) their respective moral systems fare against morally complex situations.

Viktor Frankl’s Moral System (based on Logotherapy)

            As far as the deontological/consequentialist debate goes, Frankl’s moral system seems to straddle the middle. Frankl’s moral system is derived from aspects of his logotherapy, a specific school of thought within modern psychiatry. Frankl believes that logotherapy is a useful tool in that “the patient is actually confronted with and reoriented toward the meaning of his[/her/their] life” (104). This meaning is the primary drive motivating conscious human beings; it is future-oriented (towards some potentiality that is, as of yet, left undone), extremely subjective (as it changes from one individual to the next), and dependent upon the responsible care and efforts of the individual for its realization.

Continue reading

Innocence, Ignorance, and Inconsistency in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American

     Graham Greene’s novel, The Quiet American, properly characterizes and criticizes a strand of American idealism, particularly in regards to international politics, that was prevalent during the middle to middle-late 20th century. During the 1950s, the United States was becoming an international superpower. World War II had been devastating for numerous countries around the world, but the United States stood to benefit tremendously given that it played a significant role in ending the war and establishing the peace terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
     The United States’ military, economic, and cultural successes that were derived from their victory in World War II imbued their government, media, and general citizenry with a reinvigorated sense of national purpose and pride. And because the United States had entered the war later than their allies had, their war resources, troop levels, and overall morale were not as deplenished as England’s or France’s. As a result, the United States took their newfound role of being the leading advocate for liberal democracies (in the economic sense) quite seriously in hopes that these successes would be replicated globally. Expansion of this American idealism was the impetus behind many decisions made at the international, national, and local levels within American society.
     Yet not all were as impressed by the United States’s new international presence, English author Graham Greene being one of them. Greene’s criticism of this particular form of American idealism centers around three distinct yet interrelated psychological concepts: ignorance, inconsistency, and, ultimately, ignorance. Individually, each one of these traits carries with it potentially negative consequences. When combined, these negative consequences are compounded and made more complex. Greene’s novel does an excellent job of providing concrete examples to these abstract concepts within the context of historically relevant environments. Continue reading