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  • Interpersonal relations Religious aspects  (1)
  • Judaism  (1)
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  • 1
    Language: English
    Year of publication: 2022
    Titel der Quelle: Naharaim
    Angaben zur Quelle: 16,2 (2022) 257-273
    Keywords: Buber, Martin, ; Jewish philosophy 20th century ; Interpersonal relations Religious aspects ; Judaism
    Abstract: This paper corrects a pervasive mistake in readings of Buber’s iconic trope, “I-Thou” (Ich-Du; hereafter, I-You). The mistake lies in considering it synonymous to the principal concept of his dialogical thought, “relation” (Beziehung). A detailed reading of relevant passages in Buber’s I and Thou (hereafter, IAT) reveals their difference: While both “relation” and “I-You” refer to the same reality—to the dialogic moment—they do so with a different focus and scope: “Relation” refers to the dialogic moment in its bilateral entirety. However, “primary word I-You” (hereafter, PWIY)—the phrase in which the I-You trope in fact appears in IAT—focuses on the active share of only one of the two interlocutors in the dialogic moment. While PWIY does refer to the dialogical moment (which is indeed bilateral), it denotes only a partial aspect of the dialogical moment. It focuses exclusively on my active turning toward you and defocuses your concurrent turning toward me (which, no doubt, is present as well). This mistake, I show, is due to interpreters’ enthusiastic endorsement of Buber’s later phrase, the “I-You relation,” which is indeed synonymous with “relation.” It is then easy to read back the “I-You relation” into the earlier, more focused concept of PWIY. Furthermore, this enthusiasm has blinded readers from realizing that, following IAT, Buber in fact abandoned the I-You trope and used it only reluctantly, mainly when addressing his interpreters who used it themselves, or when discussing IAT where it indeed appeared.
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