Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “I and Thou” as Want to Read:
I and Thou
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

I and Thou

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  10,724 ratings  ·  455 reviews
An alternate cover for this isbn can be found here.

Martin Buber's I and 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; and the generation born after World War II considers Buber one of its prophets. Buber's main proposition is that we may address exist
Paperback, 185 pages
Published February 1st 1971 by Charles Scribner's Sons (NY) (first published 1923)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about I and Thou, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Warren I feel stupid reading this book. I'm on page 15 and I just cannot comprehend 3/4 of what I'm reading, re-reading the same sentences over and over. All…moreI feel stupid reading this book. I'm on page 15 and I just cannot comprehend 3/4 of what I'm reading, re-reading the same sentences over and over. All I keep coming back to is that it sounds a lot like Zen Buddhism, except I can really connect with ZB. I'm going to keep trying, though.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,724 ratings  ·  455 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of I and Thou
Bill Kerwin

I hesitate to write about this book, for, although it has influenced how I think about—and relate to--people, animals, the environment, works of art, prayer, God, you name it, there is much in it that I do not comprehend, and a few things that baffle me completely.

What I am sure about is that—before anything—this book is about the two essential ways in which we relate to the "other"--that is, whatever we perceive to exist that is apart from our self. We may either treat the other as a thing (des
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These days we have forgotten our Humanity. Our caring for each other. Our oldest friends. The family we would like to love. The wonder of simple joys. The awareness that we can make mistakes, too. And can live by losing.


Buber can tell us. He would say that all these things have become “Other” to us. Objects in a utilitarian world. Plastic toys. We’re a race of ungrounded cyborgs.

The real Treasure, Buber says, is Within...

Living Within, we can share our Real selves with those we love. And we
Sep 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
So, I can say I read it. And what I understood, I really really liked. It opened my eyes to the wonder of each human encounter I have every day, from the most mundane to the ones I consider and label ‘significant’. They are all way beyond ‘important’. Can I, do I remember this? No. Do I want to? For sure. I need to read books like this which remind me – again and again – that every person, every conversation, every moment is crucial, not just those special occasions designated such.

Martin Buber’
Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
I distinctly remember how all of us dutiful grad students collectively scratched our heads when we realized this would be our primary text for a seminar on documentary films taught by Bill Nichols—we were in grad school to read Deleuze and Foucault and Silverman and "sophisticated" contemporary theory of all stripes (as well as his own writing on the topic), but... a Jewish theologian and mystic? Really?

Of course the emphasis on this text turned out to be nothing less than inspired, and perfectl
Shal J
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
It seems that only a few points are made in this work, but each are very important. There are two fundamental modes by which we encounter things or people in the world: the I-It relationship and the I-You relationship. The former consists in encountering the thing or person as an object that is distinct from oneself and that is something that one "possesses" in one's perceptual experience. We have a conceptual understanding of the thing or person, and believe that that thing or person neatly con ...more
Tony Le
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A short but powerful philosophical book that changes the perception of relations between a person and his environment. Having said that I must admit I had difficulties comprehending certain passages or ideas the author wanted to convey.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 reviews if it was that short and to the point.

I and Thou is one of the books that makes you realize why
Dan Raghinaru
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An unexpected and delightful little book. It combines Jewish mysticism, Hegel's Spirit and dialectic, Marx's alienation induced by economic processes and commodities, Christian existentialism, some pantheism and immanence, and so on. Beside Hegel and Marx, it reminded me of Meister Eckhart, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, and Dostoevsky. The basic theme is that God can only be encountered in a relationship with some other person (“I and you”) and in the actuality of the encounter. If we approach the other ...more
Erik Graff
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Czarny Pies
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone wishing to understand the theological roots of Vatican II.
Recommended to Czarny by: Lucie Nowak
Shelves: religion
Martin Buber had an extraordinaire career. He was a personal friend of Thomas Herzl and was very active in the Zionist movement prior to World War I. His greatest work was as a theologian in which he not only made a compelling defense of Hasidism but also contributed greatly to the revival of personal Thomism which was so vigorously promoted by Vatican II.

It this short and clear book he proposes a theological model of human existence based on the word pairs Ich-du (I and thou) and Ich-es (I and
Morgan Blackledge
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A remarkably obtuse text with an equally remarkable observation at its core. I/IT refers to relationships of objectification and necessity. I/THOU refers to relationships in which our shared selves encounter the essential inner self of the other. Buber does not privileged one over the other. But simply observes.
Dave Schaafsma
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, philosophy
I read this book twice in my life, the first time in 1976 with Carl Byker, who became an LA documentary filmmaker. That experience of reading and talking IN relationship about a book about the importance of relationships in spirituality, that it was the essence of spirituality, that was new and unforgettable to me.

I was profoundly influenced by existentialism at the time, and I had been "brought up" (as they used to say) "in the church" (and a Dutch Calvinist church) as well, but existentialist
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Elliot Sneider
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Fred Kohn
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
We live our lives in a duality. This duality is summed up in two word pairs; I-It and I-Thou. The I-It perspective is when we see things or other people (I-He/She) or God as objects to be utilized, observed, manipulated, pitied, begrudged, etc... This is living in the past or for the future. The higher plane of consciousness is the I-Thou mode in which there is a relationship or communication sublimely in the present. This can be experienced with nature, other people, infinity, God, etc... It is ...more
Aug 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy-etc
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. ...more
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
David Withun
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, favorites
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
One can at least entertain the thought that against all that is real one can insist through a perhaps on a God worthy of one’s time, consideration and worship while never being persistently certain. Or, as this author clearly prefers one can persist with certainty and force the issue and find ones freedom by realizing one has no freedom thus being absolutely free; a clever word game yes, but the author’s method for acquiring a persistent certainty in God.

Buber will say the place between the sub
Mehmed Gokcel
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, where to start...? This book was not merely a read, but something to be experienced. Admittedly, it was a very difficult text, actually, almost incomprehensible at times. But within this remarkably complex, philosophical and difficult text, lies hidden treasures and formulas to understand the equally complex and difficult human nature and our relations with our surroundings, especially with God. When ideas are so large, words don't suffice to express them and you have to create new words, n ...more
Pedro Limeira
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book reminded me of the beauty of encounters. It left me with a question: how can I foster my availability to what is uncertain?

Its last paragraph is comforting; it means to me that I am really renewed by saying I-Thou, and that all my challenges afterwards will be new as well.

"But this course is not circular. It is the way. In each new aeon fate becomes more oppressive, reversal more shattering. And the theophany becomes ever nearer, increasingly near to the sphere that lies between beings
Larry Hansen
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this I knew it was profound and also that much of it was going over my head. Have read it six times now and each time it becomes more meaningful, both in a practical and enlightening way. I consider it one of the best.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Add reciprocal ACE text 3 14 Jan 06, 2018 09:58AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Merge edtions 3 16 Jan 05, 2018 11:33AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Courage to Be
  • After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
  • The Idea of the Holy
  • Fear and Trembling/Repetition
  • Dynamics of Faith
  • Pensées
  • Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives
  • The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening
  • A Confession and Other Religious Writings
  • Fear and Trembling
  • Totality and Infinity:  An Essay on Exteriority
  • The Perennial Philosophy
  • The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man
  • To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life
  • The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays
  • Spinoza in 90 Minutes
  • The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling
  • Being and Time
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Related Articles

Thirty-four years after the publication of her dystopian classic, The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood returns to continue the story of Offred. We talked...
371 likes · 59 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“All real living is meeting.” 82 likes
“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..” 54 likes
More quotes…