I and Thou
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I and Thou

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  5,284 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Martin Buber's I & Thou has long been acclaimed as a classic. Many prominent writers have acknowledged its influence on their work. Students of intellectual history consider it a landmark. The generation born since WWII considers Buber as one of its prophets. The need for a new English translation has been felt for years. The old version was marred by many inaccuracies...more
Paperback, 191 pages
Published February 1st 1971 by Charles Scribner's Sons (NY) (first published 1923)
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As Walter Kaufmann says in his introduction, Buber's "I and Thou" stands somewhere between the literary and philosophical traditions. This makes the book very hard to summarize and its impact difficult to convey. Suffice it to say, this is 100 pages of honest, resonant writing from a man who believed the most important thing in the world was the relationship between two individuals. It turned an agnostic undergraduate into a believer. A book to return to again and again.
Ian Paganus
Ich-Du2 (See also "Ich-Du")
From Wikiboobia, the free encyclopedia:

Ich-Du2 is the lesser known sequel to Ich-Du.

In it, Boober was forced to qualify many of the concepts he had explored in the abstract in Ich-Du.


Ich-Du2 ("I-Thou-Two" or "I-You-Two") is a relationship that stresses the mutual, holi...more
I was assigned this book in college and kept it, because it struck me as so true at the time. The premise is that there can be no self without an other. You can only come into being through your relationships with others. At the time, I was kind of sick and pretty delusional and thought I was very invisible, so it seemed like a good way to look at the world: you can only exist in so far as you build a relationship with others. I think it still holds true to some extent, but not to the degree I o...more
Shal J
This is my absolute favourite book of all time and no matter how many times I read it - I get something else out of it :)

According to Buber, human beings may adopt two attitudes toward the world: I-Thou or I-It. I-Thou is a relation of subject-to-subject, while I-It is a relation of subject-to-object. In the I-Thou relationship, human beings are aware of each oher as having a unity of being. In the I-Thou relationship, human beings do not perceive each other as consisting of specific, isolated...more
The school year 1982-1983 brought me the delightful discovery of philosophy, and the reading of I And Though was a total revelation to me; it may even have been the unconscious threshold that brought me to conversion. I remember having copied back then dozens and dozens of pages of that book, and I probably quoted it more than once in the 4 hour long essay I had to write the day of the final exam – lucky me, the national theme for the philosophy exam that year was LANGUAGE !

I still enjoy so muc...more
The most difficult book to read. And by difficult I mean that I really had to think. No mindless reading. The words are put together in a way that we (modern day Americans) aren't used to. This made it more difficult for me to anticipate the sentence which in turn made me have to re-read and focus more as I read.

Also, it is describing something that had never been fully described before. There are two different ways of having a relationship with everything in this world. I-You and I-It are the...more
I was lucky enough to be assigned this book in an Intro to Religion class. Otherwise, I might never have heard of it. God knows surprisingly few people have.

This is about the nature of the human being's relationship to its surroundings and its capacity for a transcendent, boundary-free relationship with whomever/whatever it encounters. Reminds me now of some of Goethe's theories on observation. At the time it most definitely provided background to the psychedelic "experimentation" of my early 20...more
Erik Graff
Jan 22, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Buber fans
Recommended to Erik by: Howard Burkle
Shelves: philosophy
I read this book for Howard Burkle's course, PHIL 215, "Existentialism" at Grinnell College during the first semester of 1972/73. It must have been one of our first readings as I read it while the weather was still warm under a tree in central campus. Unfortunately, I read it very quickly, having much else to get through, and it didn't make much of an impression on me beyond the surprisingly tender introduction by its translator, Walter Kaufmann. Indeed, I thought the point rather simple and its...more
from an analysis of personal pronouns and the modes of relation that spring from them, buber develops an intricate philosophy of religion and human existence. like zukofsky with his "a" and "the", buber with his "ich" "du" and "es" shows us that the little words are the big words, and are literally inexhaustible.
I finished reading this book while eating my lunch today, and it does seem appropriate that at the Saturday Anticipation Mass later on in the day, I read aloud to the assembly from the Letter of James, “What good is it if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” The book, which is both simple and difficult (nothing like a German religion / philosophical work to get one thinking) is about relationship more than anything else; and I am very glad to own this copy of this book, as this is...more
Fred Kohn
If I could give this book six stars, I would.

After giving up on an impenetrable Buber book a couple years ago, I expected that I would never make the attempt to understand him again. However when I saw this book in the church library, I was encouraged by its thinness and the lengthy introduction by Walter Kaufmann. The writing is incredibly dense: Buber's sometimes sudden introducing of unexplained metaphors reminded my a lot of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, another book which I am having trouble read...more
I and Thou is the first work of Martin Buber's that I have been exposed to. I was grateful for the prologue by Walter Kaufmann, as this work was originally written in German. Not only was it originally written in another language, but Buber had a habit of coining his own words and playing with words in unique ways making translating this work quite difficult in order to keep the meaning as close to the original as possible.

Although Martin Buber is known for being a Jewish philosopher and a propo...more
Elliot Sneider
One of those books you are reading and you are not really sure if you understand it until you have a moment of 'AHA', and then as soon as you try to put into words your 'AHA' you lose it again, and you realize that the author is saying it as clearly as possible, and it takes a whole book. So, I have no idea what this book is about, but I had some clear moments of beauty while reading it, moments that I will remember for a long a time and somehow seem to make me stronger to think back on, even th...more
Feb 29, 2008 Al rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: philosophers, truth seekers
Shelves: jesus-books
A good read about the semantics we use andhow those words create the world in which we dwell. A friend recommended this to me and said I wouldn't be disappointed. He was right, but I was also not moved. For me, it was a "good point" book, but not earth shattering. But I will say this, it did help me to identify the way I see people and things. It helped me to understand how I relate to God sometime in a very childish way, selfish almost. But, I know no other way. He is gracious.
Buber says that the concept "I" can only exist in relation to "You".
"I" come into existence in the recognition of "You".
As "up" is a meaningless concept without "down", so "I" am unconceivable without "you".
Who "I" am is determined by how I relate to "You"

It all makes perfect sense to me without any recourse to mysticism at all.
Barry Hammer
In this book, Martin Buber discusses the I-Thou relationship, which involves relating to another individual as a subject rather than an object. That is to say, the I-Thou relationship involves relating to the immediacy of another individual's living presence without interpretive abstractions and demanding expectations, in contrast to the I-It relationship, which involves mediating one's encounter by treating the other individual as a defined object and valuing them not for their own sake but rat...more
Jun 01, 2014 John rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: to-buy
Buber’s pretty great. He’s much more than a philosopher or theologian. Or, I should say, he's not an academic, but what a philosopher was originally supposed to be. He’s a prophet, a wise man, with something essentially holistic, political, religious, and folksy about him. It’s not enough for him to know something; that knowledge has to change our entire being and then also the world.

Pushing Western dualism aside, Buber creates a unified cosmos that revolves around encountering others in relatio...more
Anja Weber
I FEEL IT.., so should you and so I hadn’t told you what you I want, feel or need. You should be closely enough attuned to me to sense it and so to act it without word of it.
Buber Martin, Austrian philosopher in his book *1937, on a philosophy and relationship *or "I and Thoy in Anglo Saxon style", is a special bound, an attuned closeness that is often / but of course not always - formed between couple, friends, parent-child, etc. In German, France, Russian, Serbian languages word’
Nick Klagge
When rating "I and Thou," I can't help but have in mind the story of the docent at the Uffizi who told an unimpressed tourist, "Madame, it is not the paintings that are on trial. It is you." This book has been so influential on Protestant theologians, and it seems clear to me from reading it that Buber is a genius. That said, it is written in a very difficult style and at times I didn't feel that I really understood what he was saying. The translator claims that the book is "untranslatable," and...more
John Kemp
Despite its complexities, Buber's insight boils down to one very simple thing: recognising and valuing the attitude of mind which distinguishes our relation to God/others from our relation to objects. From this core insight, many lines of speculation and argument are developed, some easier to follow than others. Dense, allusive and challenging in the manner of all mystical texts worth their salt, Buber's text is also practical ( for those with a professional interest in interpersonal relationshi...more
Melalui buku ini, Martin Buber memperlihatkan dua dimensi utama dalam kehidupan manusia, yaitu: 'Aku' qua 'Aku-Itu' (I-It) dan 'Aku' qua 'Aku-Kamu' (I-Thou). Sederhananya, relasi antara Aku dan meja (baca: It) tentu berbeda dengan relasi antara Aku dan Ribka (baca: Thou). Aku mungkin saja membalikkan meja, menduduki meja, memijak meja demi tujuan tertentu. Meja, di hadapanku, hanya tampil sebagai sarana bagiku untuk mencapai tujuan tertentu. Namun, dalam menjalin relasi dengan Ribka, orang lain,...more
Deb Owens
Nov 03, 2008 Deb Owens rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Deb by: a professor
This 85-year-old work was first published in German in 1923. Buber writes from the perspective of Judaism, but the work is considered seminal in many fields of philosophy and communication studies. The I-Thou (or I-You) refers to a recognition that the other person is an individual and offers respect, whereas I-It views the other simply as a means to an end. Buber writes, "Three are the spheres in which the world of relation arises. The first: life with nature. Here the relation vibrates in the...more
I'm not particularly good at abstract thinking. (Yes, yes, I know--I'm in graduate school, and a fool for punishing myself.) The problem isn't that I'm incapableof abstract thinking, or even that I avoidor am uninterested inabstract thinking; rather, I haven't the willpower for true abstraction. I'll find myself in the middle of a chapter on the dialogic principle with no notion of how I got there, or what I've just spent half an hour reading, or even what I'm doing in an armchair with a cold...more
Corinne  E. Blackmer
Oct 26, 2011 Corinne E. Blackmer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pilar Stewart
Recommended to Corinne by: Jon Jay Tilsen
Martin Buber
One might "boil down" the message of this book by stating that there is no existence--no meaningful existence without another, a person who Buber refers to as "Thou." So, the presence of the "I and Thou" enables human existence to unfold, and is essentially both the reflection of and the gateway to recognition of the divine, who guarantees and provides the third party to the relationship between two human beings. Distinguished from this is the relationship between I and "it;" or those things o...more
Rowland Bismark
As a part of the Western philosophical cannon, Buber's thought is best understood as a reaction to two previous attitudes toward the question of religious meaning. The first, which can be loosely termed "enlightenment theology", tried to carve out a place for God within the new, modern, rational understanding of the world. The second group, which were atheistic philosophers, attempted instead to deny religion any legitimate place at all within human experience. On the surface, Buber's ideas seem...more
sometimes philosophy texts make me feel smart, perceptive, engaged, sometimes... not so much. it is more my own lack of reading that is difficulty here, as in some ways there seems to be a shared vocabulary, shared metaphysics, that this works on. do not know it...

understand that perhaps background of Jewish thought may be helpful, or knowledge of the German it was written in, but long, long prologue here insists this is beyond either language. this is not anywhere near most of my readings in ph...more
Matthew Leroy
I liked this book a great deal. It is short but dense and it is likely I missed or misunderstood key points.

The main take home message that I have received from the book is similar to a law of physics, that when we study an object it changes that object. Buber goes a step farther and states that when we study an object we also change ourselves. The key difference is relationships that are relationships that between an I-thou and relationships that are between an I-It. An I-thou relationship foc...more
Not since Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling" has a work of philosophy inspired such an immediate and profound reshaping of how I perceive myself, God, and the cosmos (to be intentionally vague). It's difficult for me to be impartial and objective with this review, but that isn't the desired end of reviews, anyways. I've always been socially anxious and immensely self-conscious to the point of crippling timidity and borderline agoraphobia; two nights into reading this, I felt such an immense desi...more
Bob Nichols
This short book has a great title. Buber describes two contrasting relationships. "I" does not exist in isolation, but in relationship to the other. The other may be the world of "It" which is the secular world of objects and relationships with them, and the world of "Thou" that is experienced through the presence of God inside of us.

When we hallow this life, we meet the living God. We become "I" through "Thou." Unbelief is separation, separation is a destruction of the I-thou relationship and...more
I and Thou is an extremely frustrating reading experience. I have read it many times, in German and in English, and let me tell you that there are pages that are simply not understandable. That are incomprehensible!"
-Rabbi Joshua Haberman, "Studying Martin Buber: Part II", Foundation for Jewish Studies podcast
Review done. You can all go home now.

...okay, that's a lie. It wouldn't be one of my review's if it was that short and to the point.

I and Thou is one of the books that makes you realize why...more
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  • God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
  • The Courage to Be
  • The Idea of the Holy
  • Fear and Trembling/Repetition (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 6)
  • The Essence of Christianity
  • The Guide for the Perplexed
  • Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide
  • Totality and Infinity:  An Essay on Exteriority
  • Gravity and Grace
  • The Will to Believe, Human Immortality, and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy
  • Culture and Value
  • Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures
  • Moral Man and Immoral Society: Study in Ethics and Politics
  • A Theology of Liberation
Martin Buber was an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a religious existentialism centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship.

Buber came from a family of observant Jews, but broke with Jewish custom to pursue secular studies in philosophy. In 1902, Buber became the editor of the weekly Die Welt, the central organ of...more
More about Martin Buber...
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“This is the eternal origin of art that a human being confronts a form that wants to become a work through him. Not a figment of his soul but something that appears to the soul and demands the soul's creative power. What is required is a deed that a man does with his whole being..” 24 likes
“Man wishes to be confirmed in his being by man, and wishes to have a presence in the being of the other….
Secretly and bashfully he watches for a YES which allows him to be and which can come to him only from one human person to another.
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