I and Thou by Martin Buber

I and Thou

Summary

  1. Buber claims that there are two modes of engaging with the world – the mode of experience (gather data and analyze) and the mode of encounter (simply relate to the world around us). The first mode is that of science and reason and in it we treat what we experience as an object. Through encounter we relate to the world as a You, not as an object to be used, but as an other with whom we must relate.

Key Takeaways

  1. Book comprised of 3 parts:
    1. Examines the human condition by exploring the psychology of individual man –  man as two distinct ways of engaging the world, experience and encounter
    2. Examines human life on the societal level and claims that  modern society leaves man unfulfilled and alienated because it acknowledges only one of our modes for engaging the world.
    3. Examines religion and explains how to build a fulfilling, meaningful society by making proper use of the neglected second mode of engaging the world, and by using this mode to relate to God. Open yourself up to encounter– relation to You’s rather than experience of It
  2. After absolute encounter we realize that every single being is a You and come to feel affection for everyone and everything, and to have a sense of loving responsibility for the whole course of the world – divine revelation and salvation. Filled with loving responsibility, given the ability to say “You” to the world, man is no longer alienated, and does not worry about the meaninglessness of life.

What I got out of it

  1. A very challenging and difficult book to follow but one with a deep and meaningful message. Never use anybody or anything as a means to an end. Treat everything as a “You” and you’ll come to love and appreciate everything around you. By living this way you can attain salvation (peace of mind).

 

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