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I and Thou

Buber, Martin Author

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Considered a landmark of twentieth-century intellectual history, this is Martin Buber's classic treatment of the religious and social dimensions of the human personality.

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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

About the Author:

Author Bio
MARTIN BUBER (1878-1965) was a Jewish philosopher, theologian, Bible translator, and editor of Hasidic tradition. He was also known as one of the paramount spiritual leaders of the twentieth century and is best known as the author of I and Thou--the basic formulation of his philosophy of dialogue--and for his appreciation of Hasidism, which made a deep impact on Christian as well as Jewish thinkers. Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938, he immigrated to Israel, where he taught social philosophy at the Hebrew University.

Translator Bio
WALTER KAUFMANN (1921-1980) was professor of philosophy at Princeton University. Born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1921, he graduated from Williams College in 1941 and returned to Europe with US Military Intelligence during World War II. In 1947, he received his PhD from Harvard and joined the Princeton faculty. He held visiting professorships at many American universities and Fulbright professorships at Heidelberg and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His books include Nietzsche, Critique of Religion and Philosophy, From Shakespeare to Existentialism, The Faith of a Heretic, Cain and Other Poems, Hegel, and Tragedy and Philosophy. His works of translation have been highly lauded.

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Buber, Martin Author
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