Martin Buber

Martin Buber

Overview
Martin Buber was an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue
Philosophy of dialogue
Philosophy of dialogue is a type of philosophy based on the work of the Austrian-born Jewish philosopher Martin Buber best known through its classic presentation in his 1920s little book I and Thou...

, a form of religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship.
Born in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Buber came from a family of observant Jews, but broke with Jewish custom to pursue secular studies in philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. In 1902, Buber became the editor of the weekly Die Welt, the central organ of the Zionist movement, although he later withdrew from organizational work in Zionism.
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Quotations

The Thou encounters me by grace — it cannot be found by seeking. But that I speak the basic word to it is a deed of my whole being, is my essential deed.

The basic word I-Thou can be spoken only with one's whole being. The concentration and fusion into a whole being can never be accomplished by me, can never be accomplished without me. I require a Thou to become; becoming I, I say Thou.

All actual life is encounter.

The I of the basic word I-Thou is different from that of the basic word I-It.

An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language.

Egos appear by setting themselves apart from other egos.

Persons appear by entering into relation to other persons.

All names of God remain hallowed because they have been used not only to speak of God but also to speak to him.

Encyclopedia
Martin Buber was an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue
Philosophy of dialogue
Philosophy of dialogue is a type of philosophy based on the work of the Austrian-born Jewish philosopher Martin Buber best known through its classic presentation in his 1920s little book I and Thou...

, a form of religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship.
Born in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Buber came from a family of observant Jews, but broke with Jewish custom to pursue secular studies in philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. In 1902, Buber became the editor of the weekly Die Welt, the central organ of the Zionist movement, although he later withdrew from organizational work in Zionism. In 1923 Buber wrote his famous essay on existence, Ich und Du
I and Thou
Ich und Du, usually translated as I and Thou, is a book by Martin Buber, published in 1923, and first translated to English in 1937.-Premise:Buber's main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways:...

 (later translated into English as I and Thou), and in 1925 he began translating the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 into the German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

.

In 1930 Buber became an honorary professor at the University of Frankfurt am Main, and resigned in protest from his professorship immediately after Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 came to power in 1933. He then founded the Central Office for Jewish Adult Education, which became an increasingly important body as the German government forbade Jews to attend public education. In 1938, Buber left Germany and settled in Jerusalem, in the British Mandate for Palestine, receiving a professorship at Hebrew University and lecturing in anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and introductory sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

.

Buber's wife Paula died in 1958, and he died at his home in the Talbiyeh neighborhood of Jerusalem on June 13, 1965.

Biography


Martin (Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 name: מָרְדֳּכַי, Mordechai) Buber was born in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 to an Orthodox Jewish family. His grandfather, Solomon Buber
Solomon Buber
Solomon Buber was a Jewish Galician scholar and editor of Hebrew works. He is especially remembered for his editions of Midrash and other medieval Jewish manuscripts, and for the pioneering research surrounding those texts....

, in whose house in Lemberg
Lviv
Lviv is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically has also been a major Polish and Jewish cultural center, as Poles and Jews were the two main ethnicities of the city until the outbreak of World War II and the following...

 (now Lviv, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

) Buber spent much of his childhood, was a renowned scholar of Midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

 and Rabbinic Literature
Rabbinic literature
Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, can mean the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the Hebrew term...

. At home Buber spoke Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 and German. In 1892, Buber returned to his father's house in Lemberg.

A personal religious crisis led him to break with Jewish religious customs
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

: he started reading Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish Christian philosopher, theologian and religious author. He was a critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel...

, and Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

. The latter two, in particular, inspired him to pursue studies in philosophy. In 1896, Buber went to study in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 (philosophy, art history
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

, German studies, philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

).

In 1898, he joined the Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 movement, participating in congresses and organizational work. In 1899, while studying in Zürich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

, Buber met his future wife, Paula Winkler, a non-Jewish Zionist writer from Munich who later converted to Judaism.

Themes


Buber's evocative, sometimes poetic writing style has marked the major themes in his work: the retelling of Hasidic tales, Biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 commentary, and metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 dialogue. A cultural Zionist
Cultural Zionism
Cultural Zionism is a strain of the concept of Zionism that values Jewish culture and history, including language and historical roots, rather than other Zionist ideas such as political Zionism...

, Buber was active in the Jewish and educational communities of Germany and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. He was also a staunch supporter of a binational solution
Binational solution
The one-state solution and the similar binational solution are proposed approaches to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Proponents of a binational solution to the conflict advocate either a single state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or a single state in Israel and the West...

 in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, and after the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel, of a regional federation of Israel and Arab states. His influence extends across the humanities, particularly in the fields of social psychology
Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...

, social philosophy
Social philosophy
Social philosophy is the philosophical study of questions about social behavior . Social philosophy addresses a wide range of subjects, from individual meanings to legitimacy of laws, from the social contract to criteria for revolution, from the functions of everyday actions to the effects of...

, and religious existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

.

Zionist views


Approaching Zionism from his own personal viewpoint, Buber disagreed with Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...

 about the political and cultural direction of Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

. Herzl envisioned the goal of Zionism in a nation-state, but did not consider Jewish culture or religion necessary. In contrast, Buber believed the potential of Zionism was for social and spiritual enrichment. Herzl and Buber would continue, in mutual respect and disagreement, to work towards their respective goals for the rest of their lives.

In 1902, Buber became the editor of the weekly Die Welt
Die Welt
Die Welt is a German national daily newspaper published by the Axel Springer AG company.It was founded in Hamburg in 1946 by the British occupying forces, aiming to provide a "quality newspaper" modelled on The Times...

, the central organ of the Zionist movement. However, a year later Buber became involved with the Jewish Hasidism
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

 movement. Buber admired how the Hasidic communities actualized their religion in daily life and culture. In stark contrast to the busy Zionist organizations, which were always mulling political concerns, the Hasidim were focused on the values which Buber had long advocated for Zionism to adopt. In 1904, Buber withdrew from much of his Zionist organizational work and devoted himself to study and writing. In that year he published his thesis: Beiträge zur Geschichte des Individuationsproblems (on Jakob Böhme
Jakob Böhme
Jakob Böhme was a German Christian mystic and theologian. He is considered an original thinker within the Lutheran tradition...

 and Nikolaus Cusanus
Nicholas of Cusa
Nicholas of Kues , also referred to as Nicolaus Cusanus and Nicholas of Cusa, was a cardinal of the Catholic Church from Germany , a philosopher, theologian, jurist, mathematician, and an astronomer. He is widely considered one of the great geniuses and polymaths of the 15th century...

).

Literary and academic career


From 1910 to 1914, Buber studied myths and published editions of mythic texts. In 1916 he moved from Berlin to Heppenheim
Heppenheim
Heppenheim is the seat of Bergstraße district in Hesse, Germany, lying on the Bergstraße on the edge of the Odenwald.- Location :...

.

During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 he helped establish the Jewish National Commission in order to improve the condition of Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

an Jews. During that period he became the editor of Der Jude (German for "The Jew"), a Jewish monthly (until 1924). In 1921 Buber began his close relationship with Franz Rosenzweig
Franz Rosenzweig
Franz Rosenzweig was an influential Jewish theologian and philosopher.-Early life:Franz Rosenzweig was born in Kassel, Germany to a middle-class, minimally observant Jewish family...

. In 1922 Buber and Rosenzweig co-operated in Rosenzweig's House of Jewish Learning, known in Germany as Lehrhaus.

In 1923 Buber wrote his famous essay on existence, Ich und Du
I and Thou
Ich und Du, usually translated as I and Thou, is a book by Martin Buber, published in 1923, and first translated to English in 1937.-Premise:Buber's main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways:...

 (later translated into English as I and Thou). Though he edited the work later in his life, he refused to make substantial changes. In 1925 he began, in conjunction with Franz Rosenzweig
Franz Rosenzweig
Franz Rosenzweig was an influential Jewish theologian and philosopher.-Early life:Franz Rosenzweig was born in Kassel, Germany to a middle-class, minimally observant Jewish family...

, translating the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 into German. He himself called this translation Verdeutschung ("Germanification"), since it does not always use literary German language but attempts to find new dynamic (often newly invented) equivalent phrasing in order to respect the multivalent Hebrew original. Between 1926 and 1930 Buber co-edited the quarterly Die Kreatur ("The Creature").

In 1930 Buber became an honorary professor at the University of Frankfurt am Main. He resigned in protest from his professorship immediately after Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 came to power in 1933. On October 4, 1933 the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 authorities forbade him to lecture. In 1935 he was expelled from the Reichsschrifttumskammer (the National Socialist authors' association). He then founded the Central Office for Jewish Adult Education, which became an increasingly important body as the German government forbade Jews to attend public education. The Nazi administration increasingly obstructed this body.

Finally, in 1938, Buber left Germany and settled in Jerusalem, then capital of Mandate Palestine. He received a professorship at Hebrew University there, lecturing in anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and introductory sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

. He participated in the discussion of the Jews' problems in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 and of the Arab question – working out of his Biblical, philosophic, and Hasidic work.

He became a member of the group Ichud, which aimed at a bi-national
Binational solution
The one-state solution and the similar binational solution are proposed approaches to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Proponents of a binational solution to the conflict advocate either a single state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or a single state in Israel and the West...

 state for Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s and Jews in Palestine. Such a binational confederation was viewed by Buber as a more proper fulfillment of Zionism than a solely Jewish state. In 1946 he published his work Paths in Utopia, in which he detailed his communitarian socialist views and his theory of the "dialogical community" founded upon interpersonal "dialogical relationships".

After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Buber began giving lecture-tours in Europe and the USA.

Awards

  • In 1951, Buber received the Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

     award of the University of Hamburg
    University of Hamburg
    The University of Hamburg is a university in Hamburg, Germany. It was founded on 28 March 1919 by Wilhelm Stern and others. It grew out of the previous Allgemeines Vorlesungswesen and the Kolonialinstitut as well as the Akademisches Gymnasium. There are around 38,000 students as of the start of...

    .
  • In 1953, he received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is an international peace prize given yearly at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main, Germany...

    .
  • In 1958, he was awarded the Israel Prize
    Israel Prize
    The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

     in the humanities.
  • In 1961, he was awarded the Bialik Prize
    Bialik Prize
    The Bialik Prize is an annual literary award given by the municipality of Tel Aviv, Israel for significant accomplishments in Hebrew literature. The prize is named in memory of Hayyim Nahman Bialik. There are two separate prizes, one specifically for "Literature", which is in the field of fiction,...

     for Jewish thought.
  • In 1963, he won the Erasmus Prize
    Erasmus Prize
    The Erasmus Prize is an annual prize awarded by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, a Dutch non-profit organization, to individuals or institutions that have made notable contributions to European culture, society, or social science. The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation was founded on 23 June 1958 by...

     in Amsterdam
    Amsterdam
    Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

    .


In 2005, he was voted the 126th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
Ynet
Ynet is the most popular Israeli news and general content website. It is owned by the same conglomerate that operates Yediot Ahronot, the country's secondleading daily newspaper...

 to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

Philosophy


Buber is famous for his thesis of dialogical existence, as he described in the book I and Thou. However, his work dealt with a range of issues including religious consciousness, modernity, the concept of evil, ethics, education, and Biblical hermeneutics.

Dialogue and existence



In I and Thou, Buber introduced his thesis on human existence. Inspired partly by Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity
The Essence of Christianity
The Essence of Christianity is a book written by Ludwig Feuerbach and first published in 1841. It explains Feuerbach's philosophy and critique of religion. Feuerbach's theory of alienation would later be used by Karl Marx.- Influence :...

 and Kierkegaard's "Single One", Buber worked upon the premise of existence as encounter. He explained this philosophy using the word pairs of Ich-Du and Ich-Es to categorize the modes of consciousness, interaction, and being
Being
Being , is an English word used for conceptualizing subjective and objective aspects of reality, including those fundamental to the self —related to and somewhat interchangeable with terms like "existence" and "living".In its objective usage —as in "a being," or "[a] human being" —it...

 through which an individual engages with other individuals, inanimate objects, and all reality in general. Philosophically, these word pairs express complex ideas about modes of being – particularly how a person exists and actualizes that existence (see existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

). As Buber argues in I and Thou, a person is at all times engaged with the world in one of these modes.

The generic motif Buber employs to describe the dual modes of being is one of dialogue (Ich-Du) and monologue (Ich-Es). The concept of communication, particularly language-oriented communication, is used both in describing dialogue/monologue through metaphors and expressing the interpersonal nature of human existence.

Ich-Du


Ich-Du ("I-Thou" or "I-You") is a relationship that stresses the mutual, holistic existence of two beings. It is a concrete encounter, because these beings meet one another in their authentic existence, without any qualification or objectification of one another. Even imagination and ideas do not play a role in this relation. In an I-Thou encounter, infinity and universality are made actual (rather than being merely concepts).
Buber stressed that an Ich-Du relationship lacks any composition (e.g. structure) and communicates no content (e.g. information). Despite the fact that Ich-Du cannot be proven to happen as an event (e.g. it cannot be measured), Buber stressed that it is real and perceivable. A variety of examples are used to illustrate Ich-Du relationships in daily life – two lovers, an observer and a cat, the author and a tree, and two strangers on a train. Common English words used to describe the Ich-Du relationship include encounter, meeting, dialogue, mutuality, and exchange.

One key Ich-Du relationship Buber identified was that which can exist between a human being and God. Buber argued that this is the only way in which it is possible to interact with God, and that an Ich-Du relationship with anything or anyone connects in some way with the eternal relation to God.

To create this I-Thou relationship with God, a person has to be open to the idea of such a relationship, but not actively pursue it. The pursuit of such a relation creates qualities associated with It-ness, and so would prevent an I-You relation, limiting it to I-It. Buber claims that by being open to the I-Thou, God eventually comes to us in response to our welcome. Also, because the God Buber describes is completely devoid of qualities, this I-Thou relation lasts as long as the individual wills it. When the individual finally returns to the I-It, they act as a pillar of deeper relation and community.

Ich-Es


The Ich-Es ("I-It") relationship is nearly the opposite of Ich-Du. Whereas in Ich-Du the two beings encounter one another, in an Ich-Es relationship the beings do not actually meet. Instead, the "I" confronts and qualifies an idea, or conceptualization, of the being in its presence and treats that being as an object. All such objects are considered merely mental representations, created and sustained by the individual mind. This is based partly on Kant's theory of phenomenon
Phenomenon
A phenomenon , plural phenomena, is any observable occurrence. Phenomena are often, but not always, understood as 'appearances' or 'experiences'...

, in that these objects reside in the cognitive agent’s mind, existing only as thoughts. Therefore, the Ich-Es relationship is in fact a relationship with oneself; it is not a dialogue, but a monologue.

In the Ich-Es relationship, an individual treats other things, people, etc., as objects to be used and experienced. Essentially, this form of objectivity relates to the world in terms of the self – how an object can serve the individual’s interest.

Buber argued that human life consists of an oscillation between Ich-Du and Ich-Es, and that in fact Ich-Du experiences are rather few and far between. In diagnosing the various perceived ills of modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

 (e.g. isolation, dehumanization, etc.), Buber believed that the expansion of a purely analytic, material view of existence was at heart an advocation of Ich-Es relations – even between human beings. Buber argued that this paradigm devalued not only existents, but the meaning of all existence.

Note on translation


Ich und Du has been translated from the original German into many other languages. However, because Buber's use of German was highly idiomatic and often unconventional, there has naturally been debate on how best to convey the complex messages in his text. One critical debate in the English-speaking world has centered around the correct translation of the key word pairs Ich-Du and Ich-Es. In the German the word "Du" is used, while in the English two different translations are used: "Thou" (used in Ronald Smith’s version) and "You" (used by Walter Kaufmann). The key problem is how to translate the very personal, even intimate German "Du", which has no direct equivalent in Modern English. Smith argued that "Thou" invokes the theological and reverential implications which Buber intended (e.g. Buber describes God as the eternal "Du"). Kaufmann asserted that this wording was archaic and impersonal, offering "You" because (like the German Du) it has colloquial usage in intimate conversation.

Despite this debate, Buber’s book is widely known in the English-speaking world as I and Thou, perhaps because the Smith translation appeared years before the Kaufmann one. However, both the Smith and Kaufmann translations are widely available.

Hasidism and mysticism


Buber was a scholar, interpreter, and translator of Hasidic lore. He viewed Hasidism as a source of cultural renewal for Judaism, frequently citing examples from the Hasidic tradition that emphasized community, interpersonal life, and meaning in common activities (e.g. a worker's relation to his tools). The Hasidic ideal, according to Buber, emphasized a life lived in the unconditional presence of God, where there was no distinct separation between daily habits and religious experience. This was a major influence on Buber's philosophy of anthropology, which considered the basis of human existence as dialogical.

In 1906, Buber published Die Geschichten des Rabbi Nachman, a collection of the tales of the Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 Nachman of Breslov
Nachman of Breslov
Nachman of Breslov , also known as Reb Nachman of Bratslav, Reb Nachman Breslover , Nachman from Uman , was the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement....

, a renowned Hasidic rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

, as interpreted and retold in a Neo-Hasidic fashion by Buber. Two years later, Buber published Die Legende des Baalschem (stories of the Baal Shem Tov), the founder of Hasidism.

Buber's interpretation of the Hasidic tradition, however, has been criticized by scholars such as Chaim Potok
Chaim Potok
Chaim Potok was an American Jewish author and rabbi. Potok is most famous for his first book The Chosen, a 1967 novel which was listed on The New York Times’ best seller list for 39 weeks and sold more than 3,400,000 copies.-Biography :Herman Harold Potok was born in The Bronx, New York City, to...

 for its romanticization. In the introduction to Buber's Tales of the Hasidim, Potok notes that Buber overlooked Hasidism's "charlatanism, obscurantism, internecine quarrels, its heavy freight of folk superstition and pietistic excesses, its tzadik
Tzadik
Tzadik/Zadik/Sadiq is a title given to personalities in Jewish tradition considered righteous, such as Biblical figures and later spiritual masters. The root of the word ṣadiq, is ṣ-d-q , which means "justice" or "righteousness", also the root of Tzedakah...

 worship, its vulgarized and attenuated reading of Lurianic Kabbalah." Even more severe is the criticism that Buber deemphasized the importance of the Jewish Law in Hasidism. This is ironic, considering that Buber often delved into Hasidim to demonstrate that individual religiosity did not require a dogmatic, creedal religion.

Brit Shalom and the bi-national solution


Already in the early 1920s Martin Buber started advocating a binational
Binational solution
The one-state solution and the similar binational solution are proposed approaches to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Proponents of a binational solution to the conflict advocate either a single state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or a single state in Israel and the West...

 Jewish-Arab state, stating that the Jewish people should proclaim "its desire to live in peace and brotherhood with the Arab people and to develop the common homeland into a republic in which both peoples will have the possibility of free development."

Buber rejected the idea of Zionism as just another national movement and wanted instead to see the creation of an exemplary society; a society which would not, he said, be characterized by Jewish domination of the Arabs. It was necessary for the Zionist movement to reach a consensus with the Arabs even at the cost of the Jews remaining a minority in the country. In 1925 he was involved in the creation of the organization Brit Shalom (Covenant of Peace), which advocated the creation of a binational state, and throughout the rest of his life he hoped and believed that Jews and Arabs one day would live in peace in a joint nation. In 1942, he co-founded the Ihud
Ihud
Ihud was a small binationalist Zionist political party founded by Judah Leon Magnes, Martin Buber, Ernst Simon and Henrietta Szold, former supporters of Brit Shalom, in 1942 following the Biltmore Conference. The party was dedicated to Arab–Jewish reconciliation, and advocated an Arab–Jewish state...

 party which advocated a binationalist program. Nevertheless he was connected with decades of friendship to Zionists and philosophers like Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

, Max Brod
Max Brod
Max Brod was a German-speaking Czech Jewish, later Israeli, author, composer, and journalist. Although he was a prolific writer in his own right, he is most famous as the friend and biographer of Franz Kafka...

, Hugo Bergman and Felix Weltsch
Felix Weltsch
Felix Weltsch , Dr. jur et phil., was a German-speaking Jewish librarian, philosopher, author, editor, publisher and journalist...

, who were close friends of his from old European times in Prague, Berlin and Vienna to the Jerusalem of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.

After the Israeli state gained independence in 1948, Buber advocated Israel's participation in a federation of "Near East" states wider than just Palestine.

Original writings (German)


  • Die Geschichten des Rabbi Nachman (1906)
  • Die fünfzigste Pforte (1907)
  • Die Legende des Baalschem (1908)
  • Daniel – Gespräche von der Verwirklichung (1913)
  • Die jüdische Bewegung – gesammelte Aufsätze und Ansprachen 1900 – 1915 (1916)
  • Vom Geist des Judentums – Reden und Geleitworte (1916)
  • Die Rede, die Lehre und das Lied – drei Beispiele (1917)
  • Ereignisse und Begegnungen (1917)
  • Chinesische Geister- und Liebesgeschichten (1919)
  • Der grosse Maggid und seine Nachfolge(1922)
  • Reden über das Judentum (1923)
  • Ich und Du
    I and Thou
    Ich und Du, usually translated as I and Thou, is a book by Martin Buber, published in 1923, and first translated to English in 1937.-Premise:Buber's main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways:...

     (1923)
  • Das Verborgene Licht (1924)
  • Die chassidischen Bücher (1928)
  • Aus unbekannten Schriften (1928)
  • Ekstatische Konfessionen (1930)
  • Zwiesprache (1932)
  • Kampf um Israel -Reden und Schriften 1921–1932 (1933)
  • Hundert chassidische Geschichten (1933)
  • Die Troestung Israels : aus Jeschajahu, Kapitel 40 bis 55 (1933); with Franz Rosenzweig
  • Erzählungen von Engeln, Geistern und Dämonen (1934)
  • Das Buch der Preisungen (1935); with Franz Rosenzweig
  • Deutung des Chassidismus – drei Versuche (1935)
  • Die Josefslegende in aquarellierten Zeichnungen eines unbekannten russischen Juden der Biedermeierzeit (1935)
  • Die Schrift und ihre Verdeutschung (1936); with Franz Rosenzweig
  • Aus Tiefen rufe ich Dich – dreiundzwanzig Psalmen in der Urschrift (1936)
  • Das Kommende : Untersuchungen zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Messianischen Glaubens – 1. Königtum Gottes (1936 ?)
  • Die Stunde und die Erkenntnis – Reden und Aufsätze 1933–1935 (1936)
  • Zion als Ziel und als Aufgabe – Gedanken aus drei Jahrzehnten – mit einer Rede über Nationalismus als Anhang (1936)
  • Worte an die Jugend (1938)
  • Moseh (1945)
  • Dialogisches Leben – gesammelte philosophische und pädagogische Schriften (1947)
  • Der Weg des Menschen : nach der chassidischen Lehre (1948)
  • Das Problem des Menschen (1948, Hebrew text 1942)
  • Die Erzählungen der Chassidim (1949)
  • Gog und Magog – eine Chronik (1949, Hebrew text 1943)
  • Israel und Palästina – zur Geschichte einer Idee (1950, Hebrew text 1944)
  • Der Glaube der Propheten (1950)
  • Pfade in Utopia (1950)
  • Zwei Glaubensweisen (1950)
  • Urdistanz und Beziehung (1951)
  • Der utopische Sozialismus (1952)
  • Bilder von Gut und Böse (1952)
  • Die Chassidische Botschaft (1952)
  • Recht und Unrecht – Deutung einiger Psalmen (1952)
  • An der Wende – Reden über das Judentum (1952)
  • Zwischen Gesellschaft und Staat (1952)
  • Das echte Gespräch und die Möglichkeiten des Friedens (1953)
  • Einsichten : aus den Schriften gesammelt (1953)
  • Reden über Erziehung (1953)
  • Gottesfinsternis – Betrachtungen zur Beziehung zwischen Religion und Philosophie (1953)
  • Hinweise – gesammelte Essays (1953)
  • Die fünf Bücher der Weisung – Zu einer neuen Verdeutschung der Schrift"' (1954); with Franz Rosenzweig
  • Die Schriften über das dialogische Prinzip (Ich und Du, Zwiesprache, Die Frage an den Einzelnen, Elemente des Zwischenmenschlichen) (1954)
  • Sehertum – Anfang und Ausgang (1955)
  • Der Mensch und sein Gebild (1955)
  • Schuld und Schuldgefühle (1958)
  • Begegnung – autobiographische Fragmente (1960)
  • Logos : zwei Reden (1962)
  • Nachlese (1965)


Collected works


Werke 3 volumes (1962–1964)
  • I Schriften zur Philosophie (1962)
  • II Schriften zur Bibel (1964)
  • III Schriften zum Chassidismus (1963)


Martin Buber Werkausgabe (MBW). Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften / Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, ed. Paul Mendes-Flohr & Peter Schäfer with Martina Urban; 21 volumes planned (2001 – )

Correspondence


Briefwechsel aus sieben Jahrzehnten 1897–1965 (1972–1975)
  • I : 1897–1918 (1972)
  • II : 1918–1938 (1973)
  • III : 1938–1965 (1975)

Biographies

  • Wolfgang Zink Martin Buber – 1878/1978 (1978)
  • Clara Levi Coen Martin Buber (1991)

Further reading

  • Paul Arthur Schilpp & Maurice Friedman The philosophy of Martin Buber (1967)
  • Rivka Horwitz Buber's way to "I and thou" – an historical analysis and the first publication of Martin Buber's lectures "Religion als Gegenwart" (1978)
  • Margot Cohn & Rafael Buber Martin Buber – a bibliography of his writings, 1897–1978 (1980)
  • Joachim Israel Martin Buber – Dialogphilosophie in Theorie und Praxis (2010)

See also


  • Existential therapy
    Existential therapy
    Existential psychotherapy is a philosophical method of therapy that operates on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to that individual's confrontation with the givens of existence. These givens, as noted by Irvin D...

  • Guilt
    Guilt
    Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense. It is also a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that...

  • Humanistic psychology
    Humanistic psychology
    Humanistic psychology is a psychological perspective which rose to prominence in the mid-20th century, drawing on the work of early pioneers like Carl Rogers and the philosophies of existentialism and phenomenology...

  • Intersubjectivity
    Intersubjectivity
    Intersubjectivity is a term used in philosophy, psychology, sociology and anthropology to describe a condition somewhere between subjectivity and objectivity, one in which a phenomenon is personally experienced but by more than one subject....

  • Contextual therapy
  • Franz Rosenzweig
    Franz Rosenzweig
    Franz Rosenzweig was an influential Jewish theologian and philosopher.-Early life:Franz Rosenzweig was born in Kassel, Germany to a middle-class, minimally observant Jewish family...

  • André Neher
    André Neher
    André Neher was a Jewish scholar and philosopher, born 12, rue du Marche, in Obernai, Bas-Rhin. He was a student at the College Freppel in Obernai, then at the Lycee Fustel de Coulange in Strasbourg. He became professor at the College Erckmann-Chatrian in Sarrebourg, then at the Lycee Kleber in...

  • List of Israel Prize recipients
  • List of Bialik Prize recipients
    Bialik Prize
    The Bialik Prize is an annual literary award given by the municipality of Tel Aviv, Israel for significant accomplishments in Hebrew literature. The prize is named in memory of Hayyim Nahman Bialik. There are two separate prizes, one specifically for "Literature", which is in the field of fiction,...

  • Jewish existentialism
    Jewish existentialism
    Jewish existentialism is a category of work by Jewish authors dealing with existentialist themes and concepts , and intended to answer theological questions that are important in Judaism. The existential angst of Job is an example from the Hebrew Bible of the existentialist theme...



External links