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I and Thou by Martin Buber
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I and Thou (1923)

by Martin Buber, Martin Buber (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Scribner Library

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» See also 53 mentions

English (15)  German (1)  All (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
It's hard to say whether I liked it or not. Question is really: did I understand it? This is possibly once of Buber's most accessible books, and yet...I spent three hours trying to get through the first ten pages of his work (not the introduction, whihc takes up almost a third of this slim volume).

It's dense. There's no other word for it. I can sense its meaning; I know he was on to something very big in terms of understanding the relationship between one human being and the next - the other. It's just all very opaque for those not trained in philosophy. For instance:

"There is no I as such but only the I of the basic word I-You and the I of the basic word I-It. When a man says I, he means one or the other. The I he means is present when he says I. And when he says You or It, the I of one or the other basic word is also present."

When you read this a few times, think about it real heard, and go back to it once more you actually start grasping something of the immensity of Buber's thinking. It gets easier as you move along, especially the second part. I read this mostly because I was interested in Buber's take on mysticism, but there are easier books, perhaps the ones which explain Buber's thinking rather than repeat his words. ( )
  MistahKurtz | Mar 31, 2015 |
Based on all the secondary commentaries of/takes on this work I've come across, I was expecting something much different (more feel-good, maybe)-- and not nearly as high-quality-- as Buber's work ended up being. ( )
  KatrinkaV | May 27, 2014 |
Romanian version
  athaulf | May 21, 2014 |
For me, this was quite a challenge. But definitely worth it.

I and Thou is about relationship. Buber describes entering into relation in its purest form as "saying Thou." He does not consider this relation to be a form of "experience." The I-Thou relation is true relation, but experience is another word for what he calls the I-It relation.

I-Thou, he explains early on, may refer to relation with God, a person, a tree, of an "inanimate object." What distinguishes I-Thou is that in the moment of the relation all external concerns and all experience outside the Thou fall away. When this happens--and Buber makes clear that a human being is not capable of living continuously in this state--no matter whether it is with a partner, a river, or God, one is in the presence on the Divine.

Buber mentions the Buddha and Buddhism at one point, and I think it is the contrasts of this Thou philosophy with that tradition that appeal to me the most. Both of these spiritualities appear to lack much practical guidance for day-to-day life. But what distinguishes them to me is the one encourages retreat to the monastery and the other requires intense involvement in the world. One demands total discipline; the other, just pausing to be in the present. One, to me, seems virtually unreachable; the other, I feel is within my capacity at any moment.

It sounds like I'm saying this is the easy way to Enlightenment, but I'm not. Putting Enlightenment on a pedestal just feels wrong to me. At that point it becomes just another kind of "salvation." Finding the Divine in the everyday is good enough for me.

I admire Buber now more than any other spiritual writer I've read (though I admit that is a short list). I will definitely seek out more of his work. ( )
1 vote dmac7 | Jun 14, 2013 |
Buber, Martin
  Vojta_V. | Apr 9, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Jeg og Du er et kompakt verk, det er på 110 luftige sider. Man skal ikke la seg lure av den manglende ordrikdom. Tiden den tar å lese er ikke lang, men fordøyelsen av den er desto lenger. På mange måter verket lukket, nesten hermetisk, den presenterer oss ikke for et system i tradisjonell forstand, en oppskrift for erkjennelse, men verket er den hele tanke, og den hele tanke er alltid vanskelig å gripe, for man må inn i en annen verden, man må møte det på dens egne premisser, følge med. Ikke som med den uferdige tanke, den nesten ufrivillige avstikker fra common sense, fragmentarisk, umiddelbart sterk og overbevisende, som sukkertøy for den blafrende tanke, forståelig, men allikevel nesten allerede glemt. Jeg og Du maler i et annet leie, den lar seg ikke reduseres, fragmenteres og obduseres uten videre, jeg vil la det være. Jeg vil heller fantasere over hans bok, trekke dens innhold urimelig langt, bruke den som en rampe for utflukter inn i kjepphestenes og innfallenes rike.

I Jeg og Du lever stilene side om side, de kryper over i hverandre, viskes ut, fremheves igjen, forsvinner for å igjen dukke opp. Snart systematisk rissende, for så og dreies over i det prøvende. Det åpenbartes manende språk, hamrende, men her likevel mykt, glir over i det poetiske prøvende, videre utover til gysende bilder som nesten er bokstavelig uforståelige, som formidler den språklig sett umulige oppgave; å gripe livet. åpenbaringen blander seg med filosofien på en måte som for mitt utålmodige og ubevandrede blikk er uvant. For vi lever i en tid hvor dette ikke skal skje, skjer det likevel er det med vilje, som en lek, som et program, ikke av nød som formidlingen stiller en overfor. Genreblandingen som programerklæring blir aldri alvor, blir aldri tangering av det mulige, det bare forblir innenfor den trygge tiden. Den blir aldri nødvendig. For Buber har ikke teologien skilt seg fra filosofien, de lever der, ikke side om side men sammen, for ham har ikke metafysikken blitt et skjellsord, et tilstand reservert for prester og demagoger, han lar tanken blande seg med det uetterettelige.

"En sammenligning av den religiøse og den filosofiske antinomi kan tydeliggjøre dette. Kant kan relativisere den filosofiske motsetning mellom nødvendighet og frihet, idet han henviser den ene til fenomenverdenen og den annen til værensverdenen, slik at de to egentlig ikke strider mot hinannen lenger, men forlikes på samme måte som de verdener de er gyldige for. Hvis jeg imidlertid mener nødvendighet og frihet, ikke i tenkte verdener, men i den virkelighet hvor jeg står for Gud, hvis jeg vet: "Jeg er prisgitt," og samtidig vet: "Det kommer an på meg selv", da kan jeg ikke forsøke å slippe unna det paradoks som jeg har å leve, ved å henvise de uforenlige setninger til to adskilte gyldighetsområder. Da kan jeg heller ikke la noe teologisk kunstgrep hjelpe meg til en begrepsmessig forsoning. Jeg må ta det på meg å leve begge i ett, og når de leves, er de ett."
Buber forsøker ikke å unnslippe ved å benytte seg av de rubriserende vendinger, han dukker ikke ned i den vestlige drøm, katalogiseringens drøm, drømmen om å oppnå immunitet mot språkets og verdens tvetydighet. Derved skyter han seg selv ut i mørket, ut av den filosofiske katalog, ut av rekkene med klare kategorier, former og svar. Han blir, som det så idiotisk treffsikkert står på omslaget: "Et meditasjonsobjekt for tenkende moderne mennesker."
 

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin Buberprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buber, MartinAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kaufmann, Walter ArnoldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Ronald GregorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Houten, I.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"So, waiting, I have won from you the end: God's presence in each element." - Goethe
Dedication
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To man the world is twofold, in accordance with his twofold attitude.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684717255, Paperback)

I and Thou, Martin Buber's classic philosophical work, is among the 20th century's foundational documents of religious ethics. "The close association of the relation to God with the relation to one's fellow-men ... is my most essential concern," Buber explains in the Afterword. Before discussing that relationship, in the book's final chapter, Buber explains at length the range and ramifications of the ways people treat one another, and the ways they bear themselves in the natural world. "One should beware altogether of understanding the conversation with God ... as something that occurs merely apart from or above the everyday," Buber explains. "God's address to man penetrates the events in all our lives and all the events in the world around us, everything biographical and everything historical, and turns it into instruction, into demands for you and me." Throughout I and Thou, Buber argues for an ethic that does not use other people (or books, or trees, or God), and does not consider them objects of one's own personal experience. Instead, Buber writes, we must learn to consider everything around us as "You" speaking to "me," and requiring a response. Buber's dense arguments can be rough going at times, but Walter Kaufmann's definitive 1970 translation contains hundreds of helpful footnotes providing Buber's own explanations of the book's most difficult passages. --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:53 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Martin Buber's I and Thou has long been acclaimed as a classic. Many prominent writers have acknowledged its influence on their work; students of intellectual history consider it a landmark; and the generation born after World War II considers Buber one of its prophets. Buber's main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways: (1) that of the ?I? toward an ?It,? toward an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience; (2) that of the ?I? toward ?Thou,? in which we move into existence in a relationship without bounds. One of the major themes of the book is that human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships. All of our relationships, Buber contends, bring us ultimately into relationship with God, who is the Eternal Thou. The need for a new English translation had been felt for many years. The old version was marred by many inaccuracies and misunderstandings, and its recurrent use of the archaic ?thou? was seriously misleading. Professor Walter Kaufmann, a distinguished writer and philosopher in his own right who was close to Buber, retranslated the work at the request of Buber's family. He added a wealth of informative footnotes to clarify obscurities and bring the reader closer to the original and wrote an extensive prologue that opened up new perspectives on the book and on Buber's thought. This volume provided a new basis for all subsequent discussions of Buber.… (more)

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