I and Thou

Topics: I and Thou, Martin Buber, Science Pages: 2 (601 words) Published: October 5, 2013
In part 2 of I And Thou, Martin Buber examines, and begins to criticize, society’s debilitating inability to provide purpose and meaning to an individual’s life. According to Buber, “It is the obstacle; for the development of the ability to experience and use comes about mostly through the decrease of man’s power to enter into relation…”(Buber 48). In a short translation, there is an inverse relationship between the development of society (and scientific progress) and a sense of fellowship and spiritual unity between individuals. This estrangement and lack of moral responsibility leads to spiritual isolation, and an incapability to form a successful community. Buber ends part 2 with a strikingly vivid image of a man reflecting on his own seemingly pointless existence in the dead of night. The man conjures up two mental images, which calm his anxieties. In the first, man is merely a thread woven into the intricate fabric of the world. In the second, the world itself is a part of man. Both images are comforting because neither leaves man separate from nature. However, when both images are placed together, “a deeper shudder seized him”(Buber 74). It is important to recognize that what the man fears is alienation from nature. This fear classifies the individual as devoid of encounter with God or the ability to form the I-thou with humanity. Buber emphasizes this individual’s lack of engagement through saying, “He calls thought, in which he rightly has great confidence, to his aid; it shall make good everything for him again”(Buber 73). The man is incapable of finding societal purpose because he is accustomed to natural doctrines and the finite laws of modern society. These limitations merely allow individuals to place their own fate within the confines of a physical world—a world, which, according to Buber, leaves humanity feeling spiritually disconnected and purposeless. The problem with the two images the man recalls is that both viewpoints fall categorically...
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