Sunday, November 15, 2009

Buber and God

In the I it relationship, the subject attatches meaning to the object. In other words, the subject sees the objects and "describes it," i.e. gives it certain attributes, which create its meaning as the object. Thus, the object has no intrinsic value, but rather its value is given externally and thus is wholly subjective and in no way absolute. This manner of relating is certainly a reality in our existence- it is the only way in which we can relate to objects which we encounter everyday. Even so, when it comes to interpersonal relating, i.e. subject-to-subject relations, there exists a higher and more abstract manner in which we can relate to each other: the I- Thou relatoinship. According to Buber, in this relationship each subject recognizes the other as wholly free, and as such no external value is deposited on the subject. Instead, the subjects participate in dialogue that relfects each's entire essence. I wonder, though, if we can even accurately describe such an idea as a full and genuine dialogue between two wholly free subjects, and I think buber would agree, insofar as he defines our I-thou relations as derived from our relationship with God. In his view, i.e. that of someone with faith, he has no problem asserting that he has a free and open relationship with God. Thus, he can move from his relationship with God, using it as a model, in order to guide his I-thou relationships with other people.

I wonder, though, if for the athiest existentialist, getting to the point of being able to relate in the I-thou fashion is impossible because the athiest existentialists' relationship with God is non-exisistent. I think Buber would likely respond by saying that the atheist existentialist is not asserting his full reality through the I-though relationships because of this fact, and as such Buber would call for a re-evaluation of one's relationship with God or lack thereof. Any thoughts?

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