Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue

Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue

Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue

Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue

Excerpt

This book is the product of a dialogue, a dialogue first with the works of Martin Buber and later with Martin Buber himself.

The first and most pressing reason for a comprehensive study of Buber's thought is that none has yet been made in any language (Hans Kohn's work being comprehensive when it appeared in Germany over twenty years ago but now being so no longer). The influence of Buber's thought has steadily spread throughout the last forty-five years until today Buber is recognized throughout the world as occupying a position in the foremost ranks of contemporary philosophers, theologians, and scholars. Very few modern thinkers, moreover, have made significant contributions to such a variety of fields as he has. Because the central unity of the many aspects of Buber's thought is often difficult to discern, because many lack the links and background necessary for understanding this thought, and because many, both partisans and critics, have misunderstood and misinterpreted it, a comprehensive study of Buber's philosophy has seemed to me to be more and more demanded. Such a study can serve both as an introduction to Buber's works for those who have not yet read him and as a commentary and systematic presentation for those who have.

The most obvious form in which the unity of Buber's thought expresses itself is his philosophy of dialogue, or the I-Thou relation, and much of this book is centred on the development and the implications of that philosophy. An equally important centre, however, is Buber's attitude toward the nature and redemption of evil since it affects not only his theology and metaphysics but also his ethics, social philosophy, psychology, and educational theory. Therefore, I have also drawn Buber's thoughts together in terms of his attitude toward evil, and I have attempted to show the immense significance of this attitude for many aspects of human life.

In treating a thinker whom many have criticized before understanding, my aim, first of all, has been to understand. I have tried in addition, in Parts V and VI, to bring to the reader's attention implications of Buber's thought which he might otherwise miss, to show the use that others have made of this thought, and to present my own . . .

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