Buber, Martin (1878–1965) By Chestopalova, Natalja
Existential philosopher, essayist, translator and editor, Martin (Mordechai) Buber (מרטין בובר) was born in Austria and spent his earlier years studying in Vienna and Lemberg (now Lvov, Ukraine), eventually moving to Germany and Israel. Focusing on biblical hermeneutics and ethics, much of Buber’s writing is dedicated to the revival of religious Jewish consciousness through the idea of a transformed Zionist movement. Buber’s translation of the Hasidic tales, Die Geschichten des Rabbi Nachman (1906; The Tales of Rabbi Nachman), Die Legende des Baal Schem (1908; The Legend of the Baal Shem) and his original translation of the Hebrew Bible into German have remained valuable contributions to the study of spirituality, pacifism and human relations. Published in 1923, Buber’s most influential philosophical essay Ich und Du (I and Thou, 1937) is an articulation of the dialogic principle, or the duality of primal relations. In I and Thou Buber offers an ethical perspective by distinguishing between the I-Thou relations that stress the dialogical, mutual, holistic existence, and the monological I-It relations that objectify and dehumanize other beings. Buber allocates this dialogical relation to the very foundation of biblical faith and suggests that an authentic relationship to God is only possible through a dialogical life of existential responsibility.