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I and Thou

Martin Buber

Important Terms

Summary

Philosophical Themes, Arguments, Ideas

Dialogical  -  In calling man's relationship to God "dialogical" Buber simply means to claim that man's relationship to God is based on dialogue or conversation. Like a dialogue, this relationship takes place between two parties and involves an address and a response. The address consists in our saying "you" to God; the response consists in God's revelation to us, in the form of our transformed soul.
Duty  -  A duty is a moral, legal, or religious requirement to either follow some course of action or to avoid it. Buber believes that duty dissolves after revelation, being replaced instead with responsibility. See also obligation.
Ego  -  "Ego" is Buber's term for the "I" of the "I-It" pair. See also person.
Encounter  -  According to Buber, encounter is the neglected human mode of engaging with the world. In encounter one relates to the whole being of the object encountered, and is transformed by the relation. The lack of encounter in modern society has led to many social and psychological ills. See also experience.
Existential  -  Existential means having to do with existence.
Existentialism  -  A movement of philosophy, founded by Søren Kierkegaard, which stresses the irreducibility of the personal, subjective dimension of human life. Famous existentialists since Kierkegaard include Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre. Buber is sometimes considered an existentialist.
Experience  -  "Experience" is the name which Buber gives to modern man's primary mode of engaging the world. In experience one confronts one's object as something to be used and known, rather than as something with which to relate. Collecting sensory data, analyzing, and categorizing are the activities of experience. See also encounter.
Enlightenment  -  The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement of the 18th century that sought to examine all doctrines and traditions using the faculty of reason. Strong emphasis was placed on ideals of tolerance. As Enlightenment ideals spread into state policy (primarily in the 19th century) many humanitarian reforms resulted.
Hasidism  -  Hasidism is a mystical movement within the religion of Judaism, which emphasizes prayer over study and joy in God over stern piety. First preached by the Baal Shem Tov in the late 18th century, Hasidism quickly swept through Eastern Europe, appealing primarily to the poorer members of the Jewish community. By the time of World War II half of the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe were Hasidic communities.
Haskalah  -  "Haskalah" is the name given to the Jewish movement of the 19th century that sought to blend together secular Enlightenment values with traditional Jewish beliefs.
Obligation  -  An obligation is a moral, legal, or religious requirement to either follow some course of action or to avoid it. Buber believes that obligation dissolves after revelation, being replaced instead with responsibility. See also duty.
Person  -  "Person" is Buber's term for the "I" of the "I-You" pair. See also ego.
Responsibility  -  After revelation, duty and obligation are replaced with responsibility. For Buber, responsibility is a requirement that comes out of loving desire rather than out of any external legal, moral, or religious tenets.
Revelation  -  The moment wherein a person has an encounter with God.
Theomaniac  -  Buber terms a "theomaniac" a man who is obsessed with his own personal relationship to God. In contrast to the theomaniac, Buber believes that the truly pious person focuses his energies on bringing God into the world through loving acts, rather than on cultivating his own private relationship to God.
Zionism  -  Zionism has had many incarnations, but the common theme among all of these is the focus on Judaism as a nationality rather than simply as a religion. Most forms of Zionism have been concerned with the idea of creating a Jewish homeland.

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No absolute l-You and I-It

by anon_2223131039, December 03, 2014

Relations are not either / or, but varry in degree. The closer one comes to a genuine I-You relationship, the more likely one is drawn to service, and increasing I-You relationships.

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