Saturday, July 18, 2009

Martin Buber I and Thou My Personal reflection

[In the Book 'I and Thou' Buber focus on the Two ways of living or relating in this world.These two ways consist basically the 'I-Thou' and 'I-IT' way of living or relating. There is an intimate relationship between the 'I' and the 'Thou' and between the 'I' and the 'IT'.From here we can draw a conclusion that one cannot really exist all by oneself or that there is no man's land, but always in relationship with the other(here come the aspect of the community, family etc.) This is also true when I speak of the other (Thou or IT) the 'I' is included or present in the other. By this I feel Buber say that in my speaking with the person I enter into a relationship with him.Thus Buber would say that both 'I-Thou' and 'I-IT' does not described that there are two independent existence, but in being spoken they bring about existence.
In the I and Thou Buber emphasis on 'the Between'. The fact that he speaks of the 'I-Thou' and 'I-It' relationship clearly indicate that he is interested in 'the Between' i.e., the dialogue or relationship between man and the existent over against him. There is no 'I' in itself but only the 'I' of the Primary word 'I-Thou' and the 'I' of the Primary word 'I-IT'. That when the 'I' speaks or when i say 'I'I refers to one or the other of these. In saying I the other or the It is also present. Thus the existence and the speaking of teh I are one and same thing.
Human life is not only passed in the sphere of activities (percieve, sensation, feeling, thinking) all these are only at the realm of It. but man's life is also composed of relationship. in his life he takes a stand in relationship.]
Men experience his world, what do Buber mean by saying this? Man travelled, study and experience his world, it is true but what he experience is only what belong to the thing (It). But the world is not presented to man by experience alone. In experience the world has no part in the experience for experience is not between the world and man but only within man. The world has nothing to do with experience and experience has nothing to do with it. In experiencing the situation of a person or thing does not change, however experience is inner or outer or however secret or open it is. It is only the accumulation of information. The world we experience is always an IT, He or She. The Experience of the world falls under the primary word 'I-IT'. The I -Thou is at the realm of relationship. Buber says that there are three sphere in which the world of relationship arise.
1. Our life with the nature: here our relationship is not clear it is at the sway of gloom, it is beneath the level of speech. in ordinary langauge it a way of relationship with the thing that cannot speak or converse with us. Here Buber did recognise that to some extent relationship does happen even at this level. Though relationship is in darkness for we cannot express it and even if we address them as a thou our word cling to the threshold of Speech.
2. Our life with man: here the relationship is open and in the form of speech. Here there is a dialogue, sharing, and mutuality. In this way of relationship we can both give and recieve the Thou. Here we can express and take a stand.
3. Our Life with Spiritual Being: Here the relationship is clouded but yet disclosed itself. we do not need speech yet begets it. We cannot comprehend and express our relationship yet relationship do exist. we cannot really explain what it was, no word will suffice in order to explain it. Here relationship is express through our life. It is through our existence that we speak the primary word I-Thou.
But by what right do we draw what lies beyond our speech into relationship with the world of Primary word? or putting it in another word How can we really relate with what we cannot see and experience? To this Buber answer that at every stage of our relationship with the world, Man and Spiritual being (God) we always look to something higher that us (eternal Thou) and in each we are aware of the presence or the breath from the Eternal Thou and in each we see the Eternal Thou.
To make clear these three ways of relating Buber gave us the example of how we can consider the Tree. We can look at the tree as a picture , object or percieve it as a movement or classify it according to its species and types and structure ect. But I can also relate to it as my thou and bound myself in the relationship with it as my thou.] In this binding myself with the tree the tree ceased to be an IT. In order to come to this relationship i do not need to gave up anything that belong to the tree, but must take it as a whole and indivisible. But we say that relationship is mutual the question is: How can relationship happen between the me and the tree or is the tree has a consciousness that is similar to that of ours? Buber answer to this question is that first he has no experience to say whether the tree has similar consciousness like ours. The answer he gave is base on the I-Thou relationship where we see the other as a whole. He said doe we wish to disintegrate that cannot be disintegrated? If we do so the tree will be an object again. Thus Buber says that in my relationship with the tree I encounter no soul but the tree itself.
In my relating with the other as my Thou, the other is not a thing among things nor does consist of things that can be discribed, experience,qualify but a whole in himself. In experience buber would say the Thou is far away (Thickening of the distance). The Thou meet me through grace and is not found in seeking. The Thou is very much part of my being and in my speaking. It is in my being and speaking that true relationship with the Thou takes place. The I- Thou relationship can be spoken only with the whole being, through 'the between' for no relationship can take place through my agency alone nor it can takes place without me. It needs both the I and the Thou, both must exist. Thus it is in meeting between the I and the Thou that true relationship happens. It is because of this that buber said in his book I and Thou that "All Real Living is Meeting". I became what i am through my relationship with my Thou (Parents, Brothers, Sister, relatives, friends etc. and even with God.) The relationship with the Thou said Buber is direct, by this I feel that relationship is between person to person and being to being or face to face. It does not need any means or foreknowledge who the person is. It does not require any desires or fancy, no lust, no aim. Every means to relationship become an obstracle to it. It is only when these means collapse or disappear that the real meeting happen otherwise with all these means no relationship really happens but only experiencing and in experiecing (I- It).]


  1. Congratulations on your blog, Sumer!
    Why not write now and then in Khasi? That way you will reach out to Khasi youth in a special way...

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