Birth of Jewish Philosopher Martin Buber

Birth of Jewish Philosopher Martin Buber

Martin Buber
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Martin Buber is born. Buber will become a Jewish philosopher and theologian who is most noted for his work on the nature of relationships. Most people are probably familiar with Martin Buber through his 1923 book Ich und Du (I and Thou) in which he argues that there are two basic attitudes which people can have when it comes to interpersonal relationships: I-Thou and I-It.

The first, I-Thou, is a mutual, reciprocal relationship between two autonomous and perhaps equal subjects. The second, I-It, is a relationship of utilization and control between subject and object. Buber argues the fundamental distinction between the two relationships can be traced to the nature of the "I."

In the first relationship, the I is inseparable from the relationship and cannot be considered outside of it. In the second relationship, the I is an observer and only partially involved.

Because the I-Thou relationship cannot go on forever, every Thou becomes an It, and thus every I-Thou relationship becomes an I-It relationship - except in the case of God. Buber argues that God is an eternal Thou, and thus a subject with which humans can maintain an indefinite I-Thou relationships.


Martin Buber I and Thou

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