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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I always return to this book...
The image of the self is incomplete without the image of the other. There are very few books that resonate so meaningfully or reflect the human condition as accurately as does I and Thou. Buber presses upon his reader the importance of engaging all of one's self in experience in order to be fully attuned to one's environment and the entities present in it, not to view...
Published on June 15 2004 by is0lte

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Use the Kaufmann translation instead
This is a great book, written originally in German. The German language has two second person singular pronouns: "dich", and "du". "Du" is reserved for intimate friends. RG Smith, in the 30's, translated Buber's book "Ich und Du", rendering "du" as "Thou". In 1969, after Buber died, his son asked Walter...
Published on Aug. 18 2000 by Ted Lau


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Use the Kaufmann translation instead, Aug. 18 2000
By 
Ted Lau (Chesterfield, MO USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I and Thou (Hardcover)
This is a great book, written originally in German. The German language has two second person singular pronouns: "dich", and "du". "Du" is reserved for intimate friends. RG Smith, in the 30's, translated Buber's book "Ich und Du", rendering "du" as "Thou". In 1969, after Buber died, his son asked Walter Kaufmann, himself a well-known philosopher and translater, to retranslate the text. Kaufmann renders "du" as "You". I think this makes all the difference in the world, whether you think of "Thou" as aloof and transcendent, or as "You", intimate and immanent. I recommend the Kaufmann translation over the Smith.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I always return to this book..., June 15 2004
This review is from: I And Thou (Paperback)
The image of the self is incomplete without the image of the other. There are very few books that resonate so meaningfully or reflect the human condition as accurately as does I and Thou. Buber presses upon his reader the importance of engaging all of one's self in experience in order to be fully attuned to one's environment and the entities present in it, not to view the other as separate from the self but as vital and purposeful in its own self.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An alternative reading, April 21 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: I And Thou (Paperback)
I think many people misread this book. Of course it is also possible that their interpretations are valid, but I think they miss what is for me the central and most interesting part of Buber's book.
There are at least two strata of the contents of <<I and Thou>>. The deeper one is the metaphysical framework on which the upper one, like Buber's conclusions in the field of ethics, theology &c. is based. Now this superficial part is the part of the contents that many readers exclusively notice. They are taken away by the poetic language and think that this book is some light and soft "life philosophy" or "mystical literature". Many people do not realize the rigorous and exact metaphysical system behind these spectacular "poetic prose" items. Why Buber uses poetic language is because it is well nigh impossible to talk about his topics in a clear everyday language. Because our everyday language lacks the cathegories necessary for the elucidation of such a theory on the structure of being as that of Buber, the user of the language has to revert to writing some sort of myth or metaphors in the hope that some readers may see through. If Buber had used geometrical metaphors instead of "poetic" language, then his book would have become less popular but may have been taken more seriously, for example, by pro-"analytic" readers of philosophy. Instead, because of the difficult language (Buber's language IS difficult, because it is hard to see through the emotional and poetic tone the underlying logical structure), Buber is often discarded as 'obscure' or hailed as 'writing beautiful poetic text'. In some sense both evaluations are true but from another viewpoint neither one is important.
I'm not going to outline the system of this book, I think anyone will find it if he re-reads the book more carefully. The metaphysical doctrine of Buber is unusual and offers interesting features like the possibility of rethinking (or eliminating?) such relations like 'subject vs. object' or 'matter vs. mind' and rethinking the concept of 'being', that of 'individual objects' &c.
When a thinker tries to subvert the traditional set of ontological concepts, he very likely begins to use 'obscure language' (like Buber did) or resorts to invent words (this was Heidegger's method). We, readers, often find such works obscure or we misread them because we already do have the 'everyday' scheme of concepts in our minds, which does not conform to the one used by the writer of the book.
The already mentioned subversion of the traditional concept-scheme is revolutionary in philospohy in the sense that when traditional concept-patterns are disrupted, then many of the traditional problems are revealed as pseudo-problems or they can be solved and newer ones are found. That is why, for example, Heidegger is important, for he has once again set philosophy in motion with his radical new stance on the world. Buber, together with thinkers like Jaspers, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty etc. is one of the revolutionary philosophers of the 20th century. I don't mean that Buber is among the most important, but his work may be worth a reading because of its originality.
And besides, it is still really beautiful a book and may be life-changing for many.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spirituality Palatable to Even the Crankiest of Aetheists, April 12 2003
By 
Brendan J. Beirne (irvine, ca United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I And Thou (Paperback)
Martin Buber has achieved something amazing in this slim book. All you really need to read is Part One of I and Thou (more appropriately translated as 'I and You' in my opinion) to understand his very practical philosophy. There is more profundity in those 30 pages than in all the religious / "metaphysical studies" / spirituality aisle books you'll ever see.
For some reason, Buber is always shelved under Judaica, when Philosophy seems like a better place for him, but anyway don't be scared off by the religious categorization. This book is as secular as they come, and therefore safe for the avowed atheists out there.
Anyway, after reading enormous doses of literature, and a pretty good smattering of Western philosophy, this was the first book to have simple, applicable advice; it is at one and the same time a metaphysical system and a doctrine of how to live the good life. As far as I know, these two branches of philosophy usually seem pretty far apart, except in religion, in which case you are forced to accept absurdities as the price of this marriage.
Buber is neither an optimist nor a pessimist. He's an existentialist but I find him more 'useful' than other Ex's because his theory is not just a laying bare of hypocrisy -- Buber actually gives you a way of taking positive action to enrich your life.
Lest you misunderstand this convoluted review, there is nothing Anthony Robbins-ish about Buber. He's not a rah-rah go team life coach lightweight.
Just read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Kind of Philosophical Writing, Sept. 8 2002
This review is from: I And Thou (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. He has no proofs to offer but only an ongoing spiraling prose poem that builds the sense of the world as he has seen it, a realm of subject to subject that overarches and informs the more mundane reality of subject to object in which we are generally mired. If you are looking for a philosophical work that builds an argument with proofs and rational discourse, this is not the book for you. But if you are willing to immerse yourself in his sometimes ecstatic prose, then this offers an experience worth having. Not all philosophy is about building logical edifices or exposing one's thinking to rigorous analytical critiques. Sometimes it's just about insight and seeing the world in a new way. And that is what Buber gave us with this book. -- SWM
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rambling, Random Comments, May 9 2002
By 
Ashok Karra (Cherry Hill, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I And Thou (Paperback)
I am actually going to try and do something novel and comment on the product. - I think the way to do that is to comment on Walter Kaufmann's Introduction and Buber's actual thought. There are other translations available, but I think they're out of print. -
The attraction of Buber is his universality, and it is this that Kaufmann plays down from the start. Kaufmann emphasizes that Buber is a "Judaic thinker," and while that is certainly true, it is clear that Kaufmann is more concerned with issues of Buber's Jewish identity and his not being a Gentile more than Buber's thought. I find Kaufmann's tendency is in line with Ruth Wisse to a degree - I remember her saying that "Jews want to be left alone" or some such thing in The Modern Jewish Canon. ...
Buber himself probably would agree with Malamud's maxim "All men are Jews, though few men know it." There is something universal about Judaism itself, of course, and it is not simply a matter of identity. It is simply a matter of being human, knowing God, and knowing one's community and one's family. And I know Buber would agree with what I'm saying in this paragraph, because it was through reading Buber I learned these things.
I want to end these comments by saying that this is a book I recommend to everyone I meet; I just wanted you to take Kaufmann's comments with a grain of salt, and maybe earn Buber a disciple before you even read the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the century's greatest, Dec 21 2001
By 
Scott10758 "scott10758" (San Mateo, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I And Thou (Paperback)
Surely I AND THOU ranks among the twentieth century's ten most important books. The extent to which human relationships form
consciousness and selfhood, and how this relates to "God," will be one of the lasting discoveries of the era, and Buber was this work's chief architect.
It is dense material, but there are many mysteriously lovely passages: the part about looking into the eyes of a cat, as if almost able to induce human consciousness, is unforgettable.
In a one-star Amazon review, it complains in somewhat Nietzschean terms (and credit Buber with being one of the earliest scholars to be sufficiently challenged by Nietzsche's insights) that Buber denies "the infinite perfectibility of Man." But consider how effortlessly Buber's text "reads" such a formulation: there is an implicit "I-it" relationship between the speaker and this "Man" whose perfectibility we hope to objectively assess. On the other hand, we are invited to enjoy an "I-you" relationship with the speaker, as subjects judging Man the object.
Now, either the "I-you" relationship we *really* have in mind--without facing our tacit religiosity in the matter--is with God the unobjectifiable, or what we call the "perfecting" process is as imperfect as Man: it is, in the cold light of day, nothing more nor less than whatever action accommodates the objectifiers, however randomly these arbiters of perfection are chosen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Theistic Personalism: the Classic Statement, Jan. 26 2001
By 
This review is from: I and Thou (Hardcover)
Buder's "I and Thou" proved to be years ahead of its time when written. Remarkably, it still is. It is the classic text for theistic personalism. Anyone who is embarking upon a spiritual path would be advised to read it. In an age when impersonalism in all its trendy forms permeates the religious universe of discourse, this small book might just save the spiritual seeker many years that would otherwise be squandered in pursuit of an illusory state of "liberation." The sole purpose of spiritual practice is to redirect one's yearning from frivolous material pursuits and distractions to the Divine Person --- to return home to Godhead. Walking the path is difficult; finding it beneath the accumulated rubble of impersonalist ideologies is an even more daunting task. With the help of Buber's insights, the honest God seeker will find it much easier. Having gotten a sense of direction, he has only to tune out the siren song of New-Age cant to avoid running aground on the shoals of Impersonalism. Justin Thacker
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5.0 out of 5 stars An obvious - but thought provoking essay on relationships, June 21 2000
By 
This review is from: I And Thou (Paperback)
This book was truly amazing and I continual refer to it with my relationships with other people. And that is the central commandment - to realize that we have relationships with people, trees, dogs, and god (an I-You relationship). We do not experience the abovementioned as objects (an I-It relationship) but they have life that reciprocates our actions. Buber explains our relationships and how we should go about interpreting them. For example, animals and plants are a relationship beneath language, people our related to within language, and finally the eternal you (god) is above our function of language.
"Feeling dwell in man, but man dwells in his love. This is no metaphor but actuality: love does not cling to an I, as if the You were merely its "content" or object; it is between I and You. Whoever does not know this...does not know love..."
The only way one can find themselves is to experience the relationship. I highly recommend this book, but I do suggest a dictionary nearby because the wording can get rather tricky. Admittedly it is a difficult read, but taking your time with each paragraph and rereading when necessary, I am confident that if you truly want to find out more about a simple but thought provoking philosophy you will find yourself done with the book in a matter of weeks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Book That Taught Me How to Love, Jan. 11 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: I And Thou (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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I and Thou
I and Thou by Martin Buber (Hardcover - June 13 2000)
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