Martin Buber was born in 1878 in Vienna, the child of a Jewish family. A prominent Zionist and member of the German Jewish Intellectual class wiped out in the Holocaust, he lectured at the University of Frankfurt from1924-1933. Buber stayed in Germany until he had to emigrate in 1938, and from then on he taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He died in 1965 a revered figure in Israel and around the world.
I and Thouby Martin Buber
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I AND THOU is one of the most important books of Western Theology. In it, Martin Buber, heavily influenced by the writings of Nietzsche, unites the proto-Existentialist currents of modern German thought with the Judeo-Christian tradition, powerfully updating faith for modern times. Since its first appearance in Germany in 1923, this slender volume has become one of the epoch-making works of our time.This work is the centerpiece of Buber's philosophy. It lays out a view of the world in which human beings can enter into relationships usung their innermost and whole beings to form true partnerships. This is the original English translation, and it was prepared in the author;'s presence.
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Martin Buber, Existential Jewish Theologian - an exquisitely deep, comprehensive thinker- has had a formidable influence on many disciplines. Of his many works, this text, I and Thou, has had far and away the greatest impact. A kind of philosophical anthropology / ontology- Prof. Buber has given the very useful distinct between the two most fundamental modes of being, of relation, those of the I-Thou and the I-it. Much more akin to poetic prose than anything like philosophical analysis, he offers a beautiful, yet absolutely trenchant "analysis" of humankind. An extremely (existentially, speaking) useful book, I have used it as the linchpin of the theoretical portion of my Ethics course for many years. In the end, to truly understand and appropriate this text, to live these words, is to have all the ethics you could possibly need. In fact, The I-Thou sums up the whole of Christian Ethics.
I and Thou is essential for all students of philosophy and religion regardless of their religious thinking as a guide to personal and human interactions. Buber brings the working definitions of "I", "You" and "Thou" into perspectives which have vital ramifications for how people accept their responsibilities for themselves and with other people. His designation and distinction of "thing" as contrasted with "you" adds a strong dimension and depth to how one views others in relation to themselves. Although it has been said that Buber's work is very dense, I found it to be very understandable given the English interpretation. The English translation of the original German text also includes footnotes which describe how the translator interpreted the original text. It is likely that readers will refer to this reference frequently in relation to many circumstances including the works of other philophers as well as all religious works.
The distinction between the I- It manipulative, impersonal relation and the I-Thou personal relationship in which one understands and sympathizes with the other is a fundamental distinction in human life and experience. In ethical terms it is tremendously significant. Thus Buber's little book in which he elaborates on this distinction is an important one. Buber is a great writer and thinker. This particular work however is somehow I found more difficult than most. Yet it is invaluable for those who would think soundly about the moral life.
Although I've finished the book in two days, I found it rather difficult to understand. According to the translater, Buber himself didn't know what he meant by some of his writing. (Wondering, who knows then?) Nevertheless, there must be something to it, or why would this book be on the best books list. I would love to read a version, that is not translated word by word, but written into an easy read/and understand mode.