Critically compare Boethius’s understanding of happiness with Frankl’s understanding of meaning. How are they similar or different? Are these concepts incompatible with each other? Which approach do you find more compelling and why?

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Viktor Emil Frankl sought to help individuals identify the things in their lives that were the most important to them. These could include a number of different things, but the point was to find meaning in their lives, which might otherwise be seen as "ridiculously naked." Frankl became a psychotherapist,...

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Viktor Emil Frankl sought to help individuals identify the things in their lives that were the most important to them. These could include a number of different things, but the point was to find meaning in their lives, which might otherwise be seen as "ridiculously naked." Frankl became a psychotherapist, but his approach was powerfully influenced by his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. Frankl remembers that he found meaning, and a purpose for living, in hope. In his case, it was the hope that he would see his family, especially his wife, again. His entire life was devoted to this hope, which was ultimately and tragically dashed, as he found out later that his wife had perished in a similar camp.

Like Frankl, Boethius wrote that happiness was, at least on some level, an intentional response to the events that befell a person. Boethius wrote his only major work, The Consolation of Philosophy, while awaiting execution in a Roman prison. Boethius argued that, because one's fortunes were largely out of their control, it was pointless to derive happiness from external events. Rather, one had to look inward, for the philosophical pursuit of good, which was, according to Boethius, to be found only in God. The biggest difference between these two writers is that Frankl is less explicitly religious in his definition of meaning. While he acknowledges that some may find meaning in living a religious life, his point is that each individual must find their own meaning. To Boethius, happiness can only be found in one's closeness to God. Still, these approaches are not incompatible inasmuch as they both focus on an individual's response to the trials of life (in each case, the worst possible scenario).

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