|Born||February 8, 1878|
|Died||June 13, 1965 87) (aged|
|School|| Continental philosophy |
|Ich-Du (I–Thou) and Ich-Es (I–It)|
Martin Buber (Hebrew : מרטין בובר; German : Martin Buber; Yiddish : מארטין בובער; February 8, 1878 – June 13, 1965) was an Austrian Jewish and Israeli philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of existentialism centered on the distinction between the I–Thou relationship and the I–It relationship. Born in Vienna, Buber came from a family of observant Jews, but broke with Jewish custom to pursue secular studies in philosophy. In 1902, he 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 (later translated into English as I and Thou), and in 1925, he began translating the Hebrew Bible into the German language.
He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature ten times, and Nobel Peace Prize seven times.
Martin (Hebrew name: מָרְדֳּכַי,Mordechai) Buber was born in Vienna to an Orthodox Jewish family. Buber was a direct descendant of the 16th-century rabbi Meir Katzenellenbogen, known as the Maharam (מהר"מ), the Hebrew acronym for “Our Teacher, the Rabbi, Rabbi Meir”, of Padua. Karl Marx is another notable relative.After the divorce of his parents when he was three years old, he was raised by his grandfather in Lvov. His grandfather, Solomon Buber, was a scholar of Midrash and Rabbinic Literature. At home, Buber spoke Yiddish and German. In 1892, Buber returned to his father's house in Lemberg, today's Lviv, Ukraine.
Despite Buber's putative connection to the Davidic line as a descendant of Katzenellenbogen, a personal religious crisis led him to break with Jewish religious customs. He began reading Immanuel Kant, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche.The latter two, in particular, inspired him to pursue studies in philosophy. In 1896, Buber went to study in Vienna (philosophy, art history, German studies, philology).
In 1898, he joined the Zionist movement, participating in congresses and organizational work. In 1899, while studying in Zürich, Buber met his future wife, Paula Winkler, a "brilliant Catholic writer from a Bavarian peasant family"who in 1901 left the Catholic Church and in 1907 converted to Judaism.
Buber, initially, supported and celebrated the Great War as a 'world historical mission' for Germany along with Jewish intellectuals to civilize the Near East.Some researchers believe that while in Vienna during and after World War I, he was influenced by the writings of Jacob L. Moreno, particularly the use of the term ‘encounter’.
In 1930, Buber became an honorary professor at the University of Frankfurt am Main, but resigned from his professorship in protest immediately after Adolf Hitler 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 from public education. In 1938, Buber left Germany and settled in Jerusalem, Mandate Palestine, receiving a professorship at Hebrew University and lecturing in anthropology and introductory sociology. After the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 Buber became the best known Israeli philosopher.
Buber's wife Paula died in 1958, and he died at his home in the Talbiya neighborhood of Jerusalem on June 13, 1965. They had two children: a son, Rafael Buber, and a daughter, Eva Strauss-Steinitz.
Buber's evocative, sometimes poetic, writing style marked the major themes in his work: the retelling of Hasidic and Chinese tales, Biblical commentary, and metaphysical dialogue. A cultural Zionist, Buber was active in the Jewish and educational communities of Germany and Israel.He was also a staunch supporter of a binational solution in Palestine, 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 philosophy, and religious existentialism.
Buber's attitude toward Zionism was tied to his desire to promote a vision of "Hebrew humanism".According to Laurence J. Silberstein, the terminology of "Hebrew humanism" was coined to "distinguish [Buber's] form of nationalism from that of the official Zionist movement" and to point to how "Israel's problem was but a distinct form of the universal human problem. Accordingly, the task of Israel as a distinct nation was inexorably linked to the task of humanity in general".
Approaching Zionism from his own personal viewpoint, Buber disagreed with Theodor Herzl about the political and cultural direction of Zionism. Herzl did not envision Zionism as a movement with religious objectives. In contrast, Buber believed the potential of Zionism was for social and spiritual enrichment. For example, Buber argued that following the formation of the Israeli state, there would need to be reforms to Judaism: "We need someone who would do for Judaism what Pope John XXIII has done for the Catholic Church".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, the central organ of the Zionist movement. However, a year later he became involved with the Jewish Hasidim 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, he 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 and Nikolaus Cusanus.
In the early 1920s, Martin Buber started advocating a binational 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 party, which advocated a bi-nationalist program. Nevertheless, he was connected with decades of friendship to Zionists and philosophers such as Chaim Weizmann, Max Brod, Hugo Bergman, and Felix Weltsch, who were close friends of his from old European times in Prague, Berlin, and Vienna to the Jerusalem of the 1940s through the 1960s.
After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Buber advocated Israel's participation in a federation of "Near East" states wider than just Palestine.
From 1906 until 1914, Buber published editions of Hasidic, mystical, and mythic texts from Jewish and world sources. In 1916, he moved from Berlin to Heppenheim.
During World War I, he helped establish the Jewish National Committeeto improve the condition of Eastern European 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. In 1922, he 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 (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, translating the Hebrew Bible into German. He himself called this translation Verdeutschung ("Germanification"), since it does not always use literary German language, but instead attempts to find new dynamic (often newly invented) equivalent phrasing 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 came to power in 1933. On October 4, 1933, the Nazi 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 and introductory sociology. The lectures he gave during the first semester were published in the book The problem of man (Das Problem des Menschen);in these lectures he discusses how the question "What is Man?" became the central one in philosophical anthropology. He participated in the discussion of the Jews' problems in Palestine and of the Arab question – working out of his Biblical, philosophic, and Hasidic work.
He became a member of the group Ihud , which aimed at a bi-national state for Arabs 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, Buber began lecture tours in Europe and the United States. In 1952, he argued with Jung over the existence of God.
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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.
Buber rejected the label of "philosopher" or "theologian", claiming he was not interested in ideas, only personal experience, and could not discuss God, but only relationships to God.
Politically, Buber's social philosophy on points of prefiguration aligns with that of anarchism, though Buber explicitly disavowed the affiliation in his lifetime and justified the existence of a state under limited conditions.
In I and Thou, Buber introduced his thesis on human existence. Inspired by Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity 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 through which an individual engages with other individuals, inanimate objects, and all reality in general. Theologically, he associated the first with the Jewish Jesus and the second with the apostle Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus, a Jew). Philosophically, these word pairs express complex ideas about modes of being—particularly how a person exists and actualizes that existence. 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 ("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 if we are 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 relationship lasts as long as the individual wills it. When the individual finally returns to the I‑It way of relating, this acts as a barrier to deeper relationship and community.
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, 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 (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.
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 Nachman of Breslov, a renowned Hasidic rebbe , 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 Chaim Potok for its romanticization. In the introduction to Buber's Tales of the Hasidim , Potok claims that Buber overlooked Hasidism's "charlatanism, obscurantism, internecine quarrels, its heavy freight of folk superstition and pietistic excesses, its tzadik worship, its vulgarized and attenuated reading of Lurianic Kabbalah". Even more severe is the criticism that Buber de-emphasized the importance of the Jewish Law in Hasidism.
Chinesische Geister- und Liebesgeschichten included the first German translation ever made of Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio . Alex Page translated the Chinesische Geister- und Liebesgeschichten as "Chinese Tales", published in 1991 by Humanities Press.
Werke 3 volumes (1962–1964)
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–)
Briefwechsel aus sieben Jahrzehnten 1897–1965 (1972–1975)
Several of his original writings, including his personal archives, are preserved in the National Library of Israel, formerly the Jewish National and University Library, located on the campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Zionism is the nationalist movement of the Jewish people that espouses the re-establishment of and support for a Jewish state in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel. Modern Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in Central and Eastern Europe as a national revival movement, both in reaction to newer waves of antisemitism and as a response to Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment. Soon after this, most leaders of the movement associated the main goal with creating the desired state in Palestine, then an area controlled by the Ottoman Empire.
The roots of the culture of Israel developed long before modern Israel's independence in 1948 and traces back to ancient Israel. It reflects Jewish culture, Jewish history in the diaspora, the ideology of the Zionist movement that developed in the late 19th century, as well as the history and traditions of the Arab Israeli population and ethnic minorities that live in Israel, among them Druze, Circassians, Armenians and others.
Franz Rosenzweig was a German Jewish theologian, philosopher, and translator.
Nathan Birnbaum was an Austrian writer and journalist, Jewish thinker and nationalist. His life had three main phases, representing a progression in his thinking: a Zionist phase ; a Jewish cultural autonomy phase which included the promotion of the Yiddish language; and religious phase when he turned to Orthodox Judaism and became staunchly anti-Zionist.
Ich und Du, usually translated as I and Thou (You), is a book by Martin Buber, published in 1923, and first translated from German to English in 1937.
Gershom Scholem, was a German-born Israeli philosopher and historian. He is widely regarded as the founder of the modern, academic study of Kabbalah. He was the first professor of Jewish Mysticism at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His close friends included Walter Benjamin and Leo Strauss, and selected letters from his correspondence with those philosophers have been published.
Arthur Ruppin was a Zionist thinker and leader. He was one of the founders of the city of Tel Aviv. He directed Berlin's Bureau for Jewish Statistics and Demography from 1902 to 1907. From 1908 on, he was the director of the Palestine Office of the Zionist Organization in Jaffa, organizing Zionist colonisation in Palestine. In 1926 Ruppin joined the faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and founded the sociology department. A building there is now named in his honor. His most celebrated sociological work is The Jews in the Modern World (1934).
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Vayoel Moshe is a Hebrew book written by Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, founder of the Satmar Hasidic movement, in 1961. In it, Teitelbaum argues that Zionism is incompatible with Judaism.
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. Theodicy and post-Holocaust theology make up a large part of 20th century Jewish existentialism.
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 1923 book I and Thou. For Buber, the fundamental fact of human existence, too readily overlooked by scientific rationalism and abstract philosophical thought, is "man with man", a dialogue which takes place in the "sphere of between".
Ferdinand Ebner, was an Austrian elementary school teacher and philosopher. Together with Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, he is considered one of the most outstanding representatives of dialogical thinking. Ebner's philosophy is about man existing in a I-Thou personal relationship with God and with others. His thought has similarities with the Christian existentialism of Gabriel Marcel. On the basis of the unity of I and Thou, which has in language, and in love its expressions, Ebner developed a religiously informed philosophy of language which led to his practical-ethical understanding of the Christian faith as the basis for the personal fulfillment and the whole social progress.
Michael Zank is a German-born American author, specializing in Jewish theology and philosophy.
Mark. H. Gelber is an American-Israeli scholar of comparative literature and German-Jewish literature and culture. He received his B.A. magna cum laude and with high honors in Letters and German. He also studied at the University of Bonn, the University of Grenoble, and Tel Aviv University. He was accepted for graduate studies as a Lewis Farmington Fellow at Yale University and he received his M.A. (1974), M.Phil. with high honors (1979), and Ph.D. from Yale University (1980). In the same year he accepted an appointment as post-doctoral lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, in the Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics. Except for guest professorships and research fellowships abroad, he has been affiliated with BGU since that time. His research topics include: German-Jewish literature and culture, comparative literature, exile theory and the literature of exile, cultural Zionism, early Zionist literature and journalism, literary anti-Semitism, autobiography and biography, and literary reception. He lectures frequently at international meetings and conferences in Israel, Europe, China, and the United States.
Jiří (Georgo) Mordechai Langer was a Hebrew poet, scholar and essayist, journalist and teacher.
Shlomo Shafir (1924-2013) was an Israeli journalist and historian. His work included the underground Hebrew-language publication Nitzotz, circulated in the Kovno Ghetto and Dachau concentration camp; the Israeli Labor Party newspaper, Davar; and other Hebrew, German, and English language writings.
Margarete Susman was a German-Jewish poet, writer, and critic who lived much of her life in Switzerland. The author of hundreds of essays, five collections of poetry, and notable literary-critical works, she distinguished herself as a philosophical writer addressing vital questions in literature, politics, culture and religion. Her 1946 work Das Buch Hiob und das Schicksal des jüdischen Volkes (1946), a reflection on Jewish history through the lens of the Biblical book of Job, was one of the earliest postwar Jewish theological responses to the Holocaust.
Nietzschean Zionism was a movement arising from the influence that the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had on Zionism and several of its influential thinkers. Zionism was the movement for the attainment of freedom for the Jewish people through the establishment of a Jewish state. Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy was popular among Jewish intellectuals, incorporated into Zionism effortlessly. Friedrich Nietzsche's influence was exigent on moving away from the Jewish past into an empowering future for the Hebraic New Man, the adoption of his ideas necessitating the Jews to surpass the antiquarian Jewish identity that had a rabbinical consciousness at its center. The philosopher's influence on the Zionists can then be thought of as an existential revolution–that is, it focused on the renewal of the Jewish identity, the adoption of aesthetic values, and enhancing the will for life. Hence, the Zionists did not want to reconcile Friedrich Nietzsche with Zionism; but instead, his texts played a vital role in understanding and embracing the Jewish experience. The Zionist revolution emphasized that “the new Jews," the concept of which was similar to Nietzsche's “new European man,” should choose to go to Zion or to stay in Europe. More importantly, Theodor Herzl, “the author and the vision of the Jewish State,” viewed Zionism as the arrival of an authentic image of the Jew in a state without the idea of God or any dogmatization, exhibiting a very similar format to that of Nietzsche's libertarianism or anti-dogmatism.
...the retort he actually made, namely, that a scientist should not make judgments beyond his science. Such an insistence on hard and fast boundaries among sciences is not in the spirit of Buber's empiricism
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