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I and Thou Paperback – October 26, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

I and Thou, Martin Buber's classic philosophical work, is among the 20th century's foundational documents of religious ethics. "The close association of the relation to God with the relation to one's fellow-men ... is my most essential concern," Buber explains in the Afterword. Before discussing that relationship, in the book's final chapter, Buber explains at length the range and ramifications of the ways people treat one another, and the ways they bear themselves in the natural world. "One should beware altogether of understanding the conversation with God ... as something that occurs merely apart from or above the everyday," Buber explains. "God's address to man penetrates the events in all our lives and all the events in the world around us, everything biographical and everything historical, and turns it into instruction, into demands for you and me." Throughout I and Thou, Buber argues for an ethic that does not use other people (or books, or trees, or God), and does not consider them objects of one's own personal experience. Instead, Buber writes, we must learn to consider everything around us as "You" speaking to "me," and requiring a response. Buber's dense arguments can be rough going at times, but Walter Kaufmann's definitive 1970 translation contains hundreds of helpful footnotes providing Buber's own explanations of the book's most difficult passages. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A revelation… It is a book to be read through and pondered, and then read again.” —The Times Literary Supplement (Times Literary Supplement)

Mentioned in Viv Martin's article:
"Buber accepts that both modes of relating are necessary. He states 'without It a man cannot live. But he who lives with It alone is not a man'"
(Journal Of Medical Ethics)

Mentioned in Viv Martin's article:
"Buber accepts that both modes of relating are necessary. He states 'without It a man cannot live. But he who lives with It alone is not a man'"
(Journal of Medical Ethics) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Martino Publishing; 60196th edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578989973
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578989973
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Unlike the usual philosophical endeavor, this book does not build an argument or make a case about a particular interpretation of the world or some aspect of it. Rather, Buber's seminal work begins with a key insight into our way of being in the world and goes on to weave an intricate web of variations on this theme, creating, if you let it, a sense of his core insight in the reader's own mind. Reading this book is not about reading a philosophical argument or thesis but rather about giving oneself up to the man and his insight: that there are two fundamental ways for us to be in the world, as subjects relating to objects (in order to use them for ourselves) or as subjects relating to subjects (which recognize ourselves in that which meets us at the other end of the "relation"). For Buber this is what it is all about. And, he tells us, we cannot choose one or the other but must (and do) have both though it is easy for us to lose sight of the subjectness of others when we embrace their objectness. And so he bangs away at the need to see the subjectness, not only in other persons but in other aspects of the world as well, and, indeed, in the world itself, holding that to "see" the subjectness that is there, in the world as a whole (through relating in this manner to its parts), is to see God. And this is where it gets somewhat abstruse for he offers no proof of God in the ordinary sense but rather the assertion alone that we must have access to the subjective aspect of being in order to fully live our lives and that this assumes God.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This small book is obscure at times and difficult to grasp, yet it completely changed my life. I honestly think Buber wrote it poetically to encourage the reader to slow down and potentially I have a true encounter with the ideas. Most of Buber's later books seem to be developing the ideas expounded in I and Thou, so it might be helpful to read another Buber text, like Between Man and Man, alongside I and Thou. He becomes his own commentary. If you have the patience, I think you'll find this book opens a whole new perspective on relationships, our perspective on the world, and the potential for truly divine encounters.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1988 my life was completely transformed by this tiny book, and those effects continue today. Buber's powerful stance on human (and divine) relations is even more relevant and poignant today as we spend more and more time in enclosed rooms trying to communicate with strangers through machines. Buber understood human isolation so well and so eloquently mourned its harmful effects, proposing a far better way to live and relate to others.
I hope that readers will take the time to digest what Buber has to say. As for which transation to read, I began with the Kaufmann, but soon found the older one by Ronald Gregor Smith to be more direct, less wordy, and much more beautifullly written. However, regardless of which translation you read, this book is truly a gem.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Martin Buber's "Ich und Du" is a seminal work, full of insight and hugely influential. It is, as another reviewer remarks, philosophy rather than Judaica, and it has profoundly influenced Christian thought as well as Jewish on the subject of human relationships. I agree with other reviewers on its value.
That said, here I'm rating a translation, not the original German. This 1937 translation is not adequate, especially by modern standards. It's clunky and its choice of English words and expressions leaves much to be desired. Buber is not easy, and the thread of his thinking is sometime difficult to follow, but translator Ronald Gregor Smith adds unnecessary difficulty. In some cases his interpretation of the original German seems questionable to this reviewer.
There is an Italian proverb, "Traduttore:traditore" (translator:traitor). For me, in this case the shoe fits. Read the original German if you can; if not, then Walter Kaufmann's 1970 English translation (also available on Amazon) is much, much better.
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Format: Paperback
Before I read "I and Thou" I was one person. After I read it, I was another.

I can't think of any other book that has changed my life in so drastic a way.

One actually only need read the first chapter to have their lives irrevocably altered, but I would suggest reading the entire work.

That will fill out the picture in greater detail.

Read this one slowly. Let every word and phrase enter you and transform you.

It is for you (or thou) that this book was written. And reading it, you will gain a you. Because you will learn how to say "you" (as in 'I love you') and actually mean "you".

Too often, Buber teaches, when we say "you", we really mean "he" or "she", which is really no more than an "it".

This "it-world" diminishes all involved. By shifting from an experiencing I-It world to a relating I-You world. . .we open the opportunity for a relationship beyond time and space.

What some people call Love.

Read it and learn to love. It's that simple.

Dave Beckwith

Charlotte Internet Society
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