What is Meaningful Purpose Psychology (Logoteleology)?

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(Because this blog is read by a global audience with different backgrounds and interests, we do not cite sources with the same rigor as we would in psychological journals. For those interested on the scientific sources of logoteleology, please readThe Path to a Meaningful Purpose: Psychological Foundations of Logoteleology. )
Meaningful Purpose Psychology[1] (MPP) is the scientific study of the meanings that enable people and institutions to thrive and to succeed. Its scientific name is Logoteleology (or its shorter version, Logotelogy). “Logoteleology” is a construct of three Greek words:
  • Logo (λόγος), which stands for reason, meaning or cause.
  • Thelos, (θέλω), defined as will.BIMP Logot
  • Telos (τέλος, σκοπός), signifying end or purpose.

Since the late 1990’s logoteleologists have studied how meanings influence motivation and action. The science believes that humans are teleological or goal-directed, and self-directed by meanings. For instance, a person accomplishes the goal of drinking water because he or she physically senses that they are becoming dehydrated. The state of dehydration means something to the person experiencing it. And it motivates (wills) an action (purposeful behavior) that quenches their thirst.

In short, logoteleology studies and describes the mind’s ability to stay on course from meaning intention to consequence.

Slide1As with Alfred Adler’s individual psychology and other psychological theories (e.g. self-regulation psychology and logotherapy), MPP also believes that people are not always aware of their meanings and, as result, they might not be able to explain their actions. You might relate to situations where you found yourself saying, “Why do I do this to myself!?” Others too might think or say statements such as, “Why did I say that? I didn’t intend to!” These examples help explain an axiom of Logoteleology: Humans are self-directed; however, not all human behavior is consciously self-determined. Logoteleology helps people understand the meaning they give to life, people, situations, and themselves as a way to understand their behavior – and more importantly – to improve and achieve their goals in self-determined meaningful ways. Thus, MPP is an optimistic — yet very practical — psychological science that helps people and institutions form healthy meanings so that they can better shape, adapt and thrive in their environments.

Adler’s goal concept is characterized particularly by the fact that the individual is largely unaware of his goal, that it is a hidden or unconscious goal, a goal which the individual does not understand. It is the true nature of the individual’s hidden goal which constitutes according to Adler, the essential content of the unconscious. ~ Heinz L Ansbacher and Rowena R Ansbacher, editors, The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler

Logoteleology came to being as the result of one fundamental paradox: Why is it that despite the availability of answers, humanity’s most pressing problems persist?

MPP believes that humanity suffers of an identity crisis. As a species, too many humans:

  • do not know who they are
  • ignore the meaningful and favor the meaningless[2]
  • lack a comprehensive meaningful life purpose
  • are clueless as to how to solve their most significant existential problems
  • are failing miserably at getting along with others and sustaining healthy environments

Logoteleology, in turn, assists people so that they:

  • know who they are
  • chose to do the meaningful over the meaningless
  • experience the confidence that comes from a well-thought and self-determined meaningful life purpose
  • are fully equipped to shape, adapt, thrive and competently master their environments
  • promote win-win social and work cultures for human thriving

Therefore, while MPP serves as an optimistic remedial tool to existential problems, its primary aim is to be a practical, positive, and empirically-based proactive solution to individual, group, organizational, and social issues across borders. At its core, the theory has a positive and optimistic belief that there are answers to human challenges, and on people’s creative power to invent and innovate for good. We carry out this work through The Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose. The institute’s mantra is “Enabling people and institutions to succeed in their meaningful purpose.”[3]

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor L. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Logoteleology is also a Macro Model. Because MPP believes there are positive and healthy solutions to individual, group and organizational problems, Logoteleology does not reinvent, repackage or rework existing solutions.  In other words, true to our thesis, we believe there are practical and positive remedies to many human problems.  For that reason MPP points to, endorses, promotes and leverages those best practices and the meaningful actions of others that yield positive outcomes.

Also, as a Macro Model, MPP does not approach behavioral and organizational change in the traditional sense  as applied in group and organizational change management initiatives; as well as when analysts — for instance — deal with resistance and repression in therapeutic settings. Still, again, while Logoteleology has its own methods, the science supports those tools, processes and systems that produce positive and meaningful results.

Rather, Logoteleology studies and explains why – despite these helpful theories and models being readily available – solutions are not widely used and successfully implemented to solve human’s most pressing problems. The science has methods to help people understand blockages (1) to awareness, (2) to the release of human potential — or to what is positively and optimistically possible — and (3) to human thriving — or a life filled with love, peace, happiness, interesting activities, and prosperity.

We believe this is due in part to how mankind self-defines, and how our species has built institutions and systems under faulty assumptions about the nature of humans. That belief explains why Logoteleology takes a more systemic and macro (socio-psychological) view to existential problems. However, its work starts with the individual, and works its way up to groups, and then to the larger environment. MPP is concerned with approaches that build a collective will to purpose, and in order to select and implement the meaningful over the meaningless.

Again, it is important to emphasize that our primary goal is to follow a two-pronged approach: (1) to release human potential for what is meaningful and good; (2) and to assist people and institutions thrive and succeed by avoiding what does not work. That explains Logoteleology’s existential, positive and optimistic outlook toward humans. The science is concerned with the release of human potential for good.

I must also state that Logoteleology is not in the business of disproving and challenging others’ theories. MPP is concerned with carrying out empirical research that tests its premises and propositions, aiding people and organizations strive and succeed, and, when required, helping people and institutions solve stubborn business and existential problems and paradoxes. While there are promising results to its approach, further empirical studies are encouraged.

Finally, while some have reported a correlation between Logoteleology and spirituality (an observation that comes up often to the author), MPP is a pragmatic, empirically-Slide1based discipline that is not involved in mysticism. On the other hand, we are genuinely happy for those individuals who find that Logoteleology enhances their spiritual life. At some point in writing my anthology, I will pen a book on the subject. As of now the working title is “Theology in Logoteleology: An Empirical Correlation” to point out how psychology’s empirical findings (particularly meaningful purpose psychology’s) correlate with Judeo-Christian religious values and practices.

I would like to close with some final thoughts and questions for you, the reader:

  • Do you know who you are?
  • Do you know what is meaningful and meaningless in life?
  • Do you tend to choose to do the meaningful over the meaningless?
  • Do you have the confidence that comes from a well-thought and self-determined meaningful life purpose?
  • Are you fully equipped to shape, adapt, thrive and competently master your environments?

The style of life decides. — Alfred Adler

I will say more about Meaningful Purpose Psychology (Logoteleology) in future posts. Still, I welcome comments and questions.

For those interested in buying a copy of “The Path to a Meaningful Purpose: Psychological Foundations of Logoteleologyplease feel free to order here.

Comments are welcomed below.

©2013. Luis A. Marrero, MA, RODP. Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose.

[1] Marrero, Luis A., The Path to a Meaningful Purpose: Psychological Foundations of Logoteleology. Bloomington: IUniverse, 2013

[2] For a deeper understanding of what is meaningful, read my book and the post What is Meaningful? And why knowing matters?.


16 thoughts on “What is Meaningful Purpose Psychology (Logoteleology)?

  1. Pingback: What is Meaningful Purpose Psychology (Logoteleology) (Part 1)? | ChristianBookBarn.com

  2. “Humans are self-directed; however, not all human behavior is self-determined” – Socrates said “I know nothing”. I believe that only Socrates’s brave and wise statement opens the door to be self-directed and self-determined.

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