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When Our “Why” is Intelligent: A Logoteleological Perspective

Updated: Feb 24

Intelligence is the door to freedom, and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn ~

We live in an era where reality and certainty are continuously challenged. Living life and making choices with incorrect, faulty, and incomplete information is risky and explains why many humans are confused, lost, and suffer. This article explains why meaning intelligence is important and can help us thrive in life.

Meaning Intelligence of a robot

According to Viktor Frankl, “meaning is what is meant.” Another way of restating Frankl’s definition, “what is meant,” is an aim (intention or goal) backed by a why --  or reasons, motives, and justifications (i.e., a cause). In Meaningful Purpose Psychology, anything meant has a raison d’etre or a why. Nothing can happen without a cause. All meaning-triggered behavior is done for the sake of something or someone. Hence, Meaningful Purpose Psychology (i.e., logoteleology or MP) studies causes and their quality. 

However, the aim is not just to study and understand causes and their quality but to remediate and, mainly, prevent problems. We help our clients avoid problems, guiding them to discover life’s answers for a meaningful life on their own terms.


Meaningful Purpose Psychology studies causes and their quality.


In my article, Measuring the Quality of Meaning (February 9, 2024), I stated that meaning can be measured through four standards. The first one, the subject of this article, is Meaning Intelligence. It measures the amount of content and its accuracy.

Meaning Content

Content in terms of how much information the person has at their disposal in their memory bank. Content is important and provides several benefits. Among other advantages, reliable information can help you

1. Solve problems: You will be able to discern what information is relevant and ask appropriate questions to reach reliable conclusions. It will also adapt to changing circumstances as new evidence is revealed.

2. Discern truth from falsehood: You can acquire critical thinking abilities to help you make informed decisions based on facts versus opinions and hearsay.

3. Develop strong relationships: Operating ethically will improve your reputation and standing with others. For instance, being able to say, “I do not know, but I am willing to learn,” will earn your audience's respect. People value individuals who know their limits.

4. Remain humble: Acknowledging you were not born knowing all and remembering that what you do know came from others can help you remain modest and respectful. You will be able to discern your knowledge gaps easily.

5. Build your confidence: Building on the previous point, it is okay to share what you know with others confidently and with humility. Having done your homework and, as a result, reaching a high level of expertise, give out your know-how to serve others by enriching their lives. Your practice will validate your expertise and help you sharpen your understanding and abilities.


Meaning Accuracy

Accuracy is the correctness, precision, and validity of the meaning’s content. You have probably read or heard the phrase “Garbage In – Garbage Out.” A better version to strive for would be “Accurate In – Accurate Out.” That means that information has been vetted to be reasonably reliable, factual, empirical, and hence trustworthy. The higher the degree of accuracy, the higher its intelligence.

As covered previously, striving to have as much accurate information as possible is worthwhile and meaningful. Without reliable information, we can be manipulatedmake mistakes of judgment, cannot solve problems, damage our credibility and reputation, encourage conflict, fall victim to bias, damage relationships, increase risk, get in trouble with the law, become stagnant, and miss opportunities. We don’t want that. Neither does MP wants you to suffer and fail.

Measuring Meaning

I previously published a series on logoteleology’s meaning construct, starting with the article, The Anatomy of Meaning. I encourage you to read or review the series.

Here is the short version of the meaning construct’s description.

1.  Attributions is a description of self or another. As when we say, “I am.” It also includes ascription, designation, or imputing intent. As when we say, “We succeeded thanks to Joe and Mary’s efforts.”

2.  Beliefs are the outcomes of knowledge. Our view of what is real. We all have a mental encyclopedia, dictionary, and video library stored in memory.

3.  Values hold and reveal a person’s principles and standards of behavior. Values are the depository of the human conscience and help with self-regulation. There can be no self-regulation without rules. In logoteleology, “values” are not preferences or things we deem important. Also in MP, preferences and things deemed important fall in the realm of Attitudes (Item 5 below). Finally, Values explain being responsible and accountable for our choices and actions.

4.  Feelings: A sensory, affective, and intuitive experience perceived through our five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. As alluded to previously, it includes our intuition. Feelings mean something.

5.  Attitudes: The learned, relatively stable tendency to respond to people, concepts, objects, and events in an evaluative way through a like/don't like continuum. Attitudes explain why we move toward or away, both mentally and physically, from a thought, concept, situation, or person(s).

6.  Aims gather, organize, and make sense of information from the other types to form an intention or a goal. Its task is to determine what should be done and why. The first five factors provide the cause (i.e., reasons, motives, and justifications or the “why”) of meaning, and the role of the aim is to make sense of all the data to generate an intention or goal.

In logoteleology, meanings have these dynamic and interactive factors always operating and guiding behavior. 


Meaning Analysis

Certified logoteleologists test meanings’ intelligence by evaluating the information's amount and reliability or accuracy. This analysis is done for each one of the six factors of the meaning construct: Attributions, Beliefs, Values, Feelings, Attitudes, and Aims. Insight also includes understanding the interaction -- the emerging story -- of all the factors with empathy and scrupulousness. Meaning analysis is both an art and science that helps the client become aware of the operating story or script influencing their behavior. This script can be the meaning-genetic program of their meaning of life (at the existential level) as well as any of the many routines and interactions people carry on during their daily lives (at the transactional level) with others and the environment.

Relevance to When Our "Why" is Intelligent

We live in an era where reality and certainty are continuously challenged. As mentioned above, living life and making choices with incorrect, faulty, and incomplete information is risky. I also explained above the downside of living life lacking meaningful intelligence. In my practice, I constantly find people making decisions they later regret because they did not take the time to test or vet their meanings’ intelligence. Much pain and sorrow can be avoided by mining, testing, and determining how intelligent our meanings are. On the other hand, much is gained when we have control over our lives through intelligent information and decisions. When our "why" is intelligent, we all win.


Knowledge is having the right answers. Intelligence is asking the right questions. Wisdom is knowing when to ask the right questions.
~ Unknown ~


Call to Action

Here are meaningful actions you can take to increase your meaning intelligence:

1.  Be curious: Ask yourself the question, “What is it that I do not know that, if I did know, I would have solved this problem or dealt with this situation wisely.”

2.  Ask for advice: Go to open-minded and scrupulous advisors to help you sort out information and discern what is fiction and fact.

3.  Expect discomfort: As information becomes clearer, you might not like what is emerging and, as a result, decide to ignore it. Pay attention to when you reject information and explore why. Lean into the discomfort and leverage it to help you understand how you might be

a.  resisting truthful evidence

b.  a victim of biases

c.  becoming aware you need more objective information.

4.  Love learning and seek wisdom: Build the habit of being a lifelong student. The goal is more than merely learning – it is about becoming wise. Set goals to learn the most relevant subjects to help you thrive in life. Make sure you prioritize learning.

5.  Leverage available information: The internet is filled with handy articles and sources to help you learn how to be more intelligent.

Next Steps

If you wish to learn more about how Meaningful Purpose Psychology can make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others, you can contact me. Please also join us in any of our free Meaningful Purpose Psychology: An Introduction for Practitioners webinars. If you are ready to start a process to do a deep dive toward a meaningful life, sign up for one of our future “The Paths We Choose” Workshops.

Finally, how intelligent are your meanings? How do you know?

Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose: Discovering Life's Answers. ™


-Free Webinar: Meaningful Purpose Psychology: An Introduction for Practitioners. Tuesday, March 19, 2024, 9:30 – 11:00 AM EST.

To Register




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