I and Thou // Martin Buber.


As an existential, Jewish philosopher, Buber takes the seriousness of the ‘eternal Thou.’ Only through the ‘Thou’ can a person be an ‘I.’ In other words, the ‘supreme meeting’ in the pure relation of I-Thou, which demands the whole person, is a revelation that completely changes the person. However, in the aftermath, the contemptuous habit of the person is to warp the ‘Thou’ into an ‘It’–understandable, manageable, and conquerable. Buber likens this deplorable act as replacing God for an idol. So, what can be done? Buber exhorts two exercises: (1) treat the world and others as ‘Thou’ than ‘It” and (2) prayer. With a sacramental view, Buber affirms that the world and everything in it are ‘Thou’ pointing to the ‘eternal Thou.’ If we cannot treat worldly ‘Thou’ rightly, how can we possibly respect the ‘eternal Thou’? Next, prayer is accepting the meeting with a ‘Thou,’ which climactically breaks the I-It cycle.

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