Unum Necesse | The One Thing that is Required | Will to Meaning


Will to meaning refers to the basic striving of human beings to find and fulfill meaning and to create purpose in their lives. People reach out to find meaning which they can fulfill. Meaning is in a very real sense the unique demands made on us in the particular situations we find ourselves in throughout the course of our lives. It has a moral quality which requires a responsible response in a way that makes each individual personally accountable to answer these demands in a way that is “right”. Frankl was clear that: “It is the task of conscience to disclose to man the unum necesse, the one thing that is required” (Frankl, 1977:34). Meaning is always discovered and not invented. “Conscience” is the “wisdom of the heart”, (Frankl, 1977: 39).

According to Frankl meaning can be found in three broad ways: 1. Experiential values – experiencing something or someone we value, which might be akin to Maslow’s peak experiences which have a transcendent quality. 2. Creative values – doing deeds, becoming involved in projects, or being deeply involved in one’s own life. 3. Attitudinal values – these include values such as: compassion, bravery, and humour. The most significant here though, is the achievement of meaning through suffering. To choose how to bear one’s suffering for Frankl, was the last inner freedom which could not be taken away.


Frankl, V. (1977). The Unconscious God: Psychotherapy and Theology. London: Hodder & Stoughtan.

Image purchased at Creative Market – Huge Nature Photo Set


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