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Fr. Robert Spitzer speaks on Purposeful Lab
Purposeful UniverseAugust 21, 20232 min read

Purposeful Lab: The Four Levels of Purpose with Fr. Robert Spitzer


In this final episode of season 1, Catherine has an illuminating conversation with our very own Fr. Robert Spitzer.  The conversation takes one into the depths of human purpose and happiness, exploring the philosophy of Viktor Frankl, and venturing into the ethical implications of scientific breakthroughs. 

What is True Happiness and What Does it Have to Do with Purpose?

At the very core of the discussion lies the concept of happiness. Fr. Spitzer provides a comprehensive understanding of happiness, explaining it as more than a fleeting feeling. Rather, happiness is the satisfaction of desire and a state of being, a perspective that aligns with Aristotle's belief that happiness is the fulfillment of our being. It's a pervasive, enduring, and fulfilling state that affects not only ourselves but those around us. 

Fr. Spitzer's model of happiness breaks it down into four levels: immediate gratification, comparative happiness, contributive happiness, and ultimate happiness. He argues that most people today are stuck at level two, comparing their achievements with others and basing their happiness on temporary and shallow victories. Fr. Spitzer encourages listeners looking for a purpose to strive for level three and four, which revolve around making a positive difference to others and living in goodness and love.  

Viktor Frankl’s Method of Finding Purpose in Your Life

Viktor Frankl's philosophy offers a pathway to achieving these higher levels of happiness. His idea of finding life's purpose through contributive happiness resonates with the modern pursuit of a meaningful life. Frankl asserts that focusing on making a positive difference to people and the world is an antidote to despair and a path to a more fulfilled life. This concept of contributive happiness leads to the realization of the spiritual dimension in each person, linking to renowned concepts such as Jung's archetypes, Aristotle's ultimate, and Augustine's notion of ultimate meaning.  

Ethical Implications in Science: Stem Cell Research

In the “Office Hours” part of the podcast, the conversation takes a fascinating turn as the podcast hosts, Dan and Catherine delve into the world of science. They discuss the ethical and moral implications of breakthroughs in stem cell research, specifically the creation of synthetic human embryo-like structures without human eggs and sperm. This leads us to consider the very definition of what constitutes a human embryo. Moreover, they explore the recent discovery of phosphorus on Saturn's sixth-largest moon, contemplating the exciting possibility of extraterrestrial life

A Deeper Look at Human Purpose and Happiness

In conclusion, this episode offers listeners a deeper understanding of human purpose and happiness. It encourages us to move beyond surface-level gratification and ego-based happiness towards contributive happiness and ultimate fulfillment in goodness and love. It also ignites a sense of wonder about the vast possibilities of scientific advancements and the profound ethical questions they pose. Tune in to join us on this journey of exploration into human purpose, happiness, and the unfathomable reaches of science.



Purposeful Universe

The Purposeful Universe seeks to explore and present, through award winning videos, the abundant order in nature that funnels biological systems toward increasing levels of complexity and sophistication—suggesting that human life is the purposeful outcome of a complex, ordered system.