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Is Viktor Frankl’s account of meaning in life likely to be helpful to us today?  Are there Stoic elements in Frankl’s ideas or does Frankl himself exhibit some Stoic characteristics?  (50 pts total)

To answer this well, you will need to do several things:

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  1. Give an argument that we should (or should not – take your pick) adopt Frankl’s view, giving reasons in support of your answer.  Why would it be helpful (or not be helpful if that’s your conclusion)?  In the process of presenting your argument, you should explain the core ideas of his account of meaning in life and why he sees this as an important question (four important ideas is probably good, but note that writing about the three ways of gaining meaning is only one idea for counting purposes).  Be sure to give citations for those ideas.  (20 pts)
  2. Add to your discussion a brief explanation of how his view would apply in a couple different current cases (e.g., a college student and someone in a very difficult situation [pick a specific case, don’t just speak generally])  (10 pts.)
  3. Are there some Stoic elements in Frankl’s ideas or his own behavior?  Explain. (10 pts.)
  4. As always, consider why someone might reasonably disagree with your conclusion regarding the usefulness of Frankl’s view (that is the central issue here, not the presence or absence of Stoic elements) and respond to that objection.  (10 pts)

Be careful to reflect on the range of cases Frankl offers – at times he talks about hope but that is not the focus in other cases, e.g., people dealing with terminal illnesses.  In other words, don’t make the mistake of latching onto one thing he says and presenting it as if it were the core of his view and applied to every case.

Write this as an essay, not as separate answers to each of the elements listed above. I have laid the question out in steps to assist you in thinking about what should be included.  It would be good to consider the above as a kind of outline for your essay.  Organizing it in this way, it will be clear to you and to me that your essay has all the necessary parts.

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