Viktor E. Frankl on freedom

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

Viktor E. Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning

I finished my first read of Man’s Search for Meaning last week. Somehow this book managed to stay off my radar until late last year. Ever since then it’s come up again and again as an example of a book that heavily influenced someone, so I was excited to finally get around to it. It’s always surprising when you first hear of something that everyone else seems to know about already.

Of the many interesting ideas Frankl expresses, the above quote has stood out strongly for me over the last few days. I’ve specifically tried to apply it to freedom of speech in the context of today’s social networks and how they are managed. It quickly bleeds over into the ethics of our technologies, what we build, and how it is used.

I don’t think there are any easy conclusions here, but it does seem worth thinking through. I’m looking forward to a future reread.

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