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August 24, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

Victor Frankl on Nihilism, Materialist Scientism, and Atheism

If we present man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present him as an automation of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instincts, heredity, and environment, we feed the despair to which man is, in any case, already prone.

I became acquainted with the last stages of corruption in my second concentration camp in Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment—or, as the Nazis liked to say, of ‘Blood and Soil.’ I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.
—Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor and Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Vienna Medical School; from his book, The Doctor and the Soul: Introduction to Logotherapy, 1982, p. xxi).

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