Friday, November 18, 2011

Martin Buber and The Case for God

Essentially, human beings have two natures when it comes to interacting with the world, with each other, and with God. The first relationship that we have is called the I-Thou, which is the absolute relationship that we have with the others. The second relationship is the I-It. In this case, the I-It relationship between the human subject and objects. The reason that it is separated is due to the way we interact with others and with objects. Individuals do not interact the same way with objects as they do with other individuals. Because we recognize that the individual is unique in the sense that there are no specific defining qualities that define our being, the individual to individual relationship is absolute. The I-Thou relationship is that; it is the dialogue, the conversation, and the connected-ness that we have with each other. We understand them as a whole. It is not the facticities of the individual's life that we just recognize in this relationship, but it is everything else that make them who they are that we recognize. The I-Thou relationship is special in this sense. Because we can see value in the others, it is the reason that the emphasis of the two natures is in the I-Thou.

On the other hand, there is the I-It. The I-It relationship, is just the opposite nature. When we are not interacting in the I-Thou nature, then we are interacting with the world in the I-It nature. The I-It nature, even though has a value, it does not connect with us wholly. People do not recognize objects as they do others. For one, they cannot fully communicate with objects. The fact that we cannot is enough to understand that the interaction is not absolute. The I-It relationship allows the the subject to only understand the object for what it is. For the most part, it is the facticity that we recognize; we recognize the use of the object, and that it can be reproduced (for the most part).

Even though we can treat subjects as objects and vice versa, it ceases to be the I-Thou relationship. Because at the I-Thou relationship, there are no mediated forces that act between the subject-to-subject. It means that there are no influences and or other social ideas that divide the relationship between the subject-to-subject.

So how does this relate to God?

Well God is the ultimate. He is the absolute absolute relationship that we recognize. In this relationship, there are not any mediating forces between the I-Thou. Also, in the I-Thou with God, God is revealed to the individual directly. There is no need to find God. He is directly with the individual.

If you believe in a God: I believe that since God is the foundation for all other interactions, God is important in existentialism. God is necessary to define our human realities and to examine our world that we live in.

If you do not believe in a God: It is still necessary to understand how the others interact with the world; thus giving credit to some of the formations of our ideas and responses to the others' world (Even though I think this will be argued).

This is what I get out of it.

If I am interpreting Buber wrong, let me know. Also, please add on to it if you interpret it differently.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I found this post very helpful. It not only reiterated what we discussed in class, but did so in a way that makes it a help reference to understand the interactions in both of these relationships -- particularly the I-Thou relationship which can be rather ambiguous.

    That being said, I believe your description of understand these relationships with God hits it dead on, but the understanding of how others interact without a higher power I feel could use some expansion.

    To what extend are we giving credit to the formation of our ideas and responses to an "other"? It seems that ideas could be created without an other -- or at least that specific other, but can be molded from interactions with that other and the connection we may share with them. I interpreted the I-Thou as being very specific instances, and therefore it would follow if that is true, that beings can be autonomous outside of that connection and it is when it is formed that the credit can be given mutually in the way in which you described.

    It is essential to identify with the other to be able to interact in such a way -- especially without the mediation of a higher power -- but I fail to see this connection as imperative to existence given this definition.

    I may be overlooking your point, however. If so, please correct me.


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