Martin Buber


Austrian-born Israeli Jewish Theologian, Philosopher and Writer

Author Quotes

Love is responsibility of an I for a You: in this consists what cannot consist in any feeling - the equality of all lovers..

Success is not one of the names of God.

The life of a human being does not exist merely in the sphere of goal-directed verbs. It does not consist merely of activities that have something for their object.

The Thou encounters me by grace ? it cannot be found by seeking. But that I speak the basic word to it is a deed of my whole being, is my essential deed.

This is the risk: the primary word can only be spoken with the whole being. He who gives himself to it may withhold nothing of himself.

When a primary word is spoken the speaker enters the word and takes his stand in it.

Man is no longer able to master the world which he himself brought about: it is becoming stronger than he is, it is winning free of him, it confronts him in an almost elemental independence, and he no longer knows the word which could subdue and render harmless the golem he has created ... Man faced the terrible fact that he was the father of demons whose master he could not become.

The atheist staring from his attic window is often nearer to God than the believer caught up in his own false image of God.

The one primary word is the combination I-Thou.

The work produced is a thing among things, able to be experienced and described as a sum of qualities. But from time to time it can face the receptive beholder in its whole embodied form.

This is the sacrifice: the endless possibility that is offered up on the altar of the form.

When one says It, the I of the word pair I-It is said, too.

Man travels over the surface of things and experiences them. He extracts knowledge about their constitution from them: he wins an experience from them. He experiences what belongs to the things.

The attitude of man is twofold in accordance with the two basic words he can speak.

The one who count are those persons who-though they may be of little renown-respond to and are responsible for the continuation of the living spirit.

The world as experience belongs to the basic word I-It.

This, however, is the sublime melancholy of our lot that every You must become an It in our world. However exclusively present it may have been in the direct relationship ? as soon as the relationship has run its course or is permeated by means, the You becomes an object among objects, possibly the noblest one and yet one of them, assigned its measure and boundary. The actualization of the work involves a loss of actuality. Genuine contemplation never lasts long; the natural being that has only now revealed itself in the mystery of reciprocity has again become describable, analyzable, classifiable ? the point at which manifold systems of laws intersect. And even love cannot persist in direct relations; it endures, but only in the alternation of actuality and latency. The human being who but now was unique and devoid of qualities, not at hand but only present, not experienceable, only touchable, has again become a He or She, an aggregate of qualities, a quantum with a shape. Now I can again abstract from him the color of his hair, of his speech, of his graciousness; but as long as I can do that he is my You no longer and not yet again.

When one says You, the I of the word pair I-You is said, too.

Man wishes to be confirmed in his being by man, and wishes to have a presence in the being of the other? Secretly and bashfully he watches for a YES which allows him to be and which can come to him only from one human person to another.

The attitude of man is twofold, in accordance with the twofold nature of the primary words which he speaks.

The ones who count are those persons who - though they may be of little renown - respond to and are responsible for the continuation of the living spirit.

The world is not divine sport, it is divine destiny. There is a divine meaning of the world, of man, of human persons, of you and me.

Thus the I of man is also twofold.

When Thou is spoken, the speaker has no thing for his object. For where there is a thing there is another thing. Every It is bounded by others; It exists only through being bounded by others. But when Thou is spoken, there is no thing. Thou has no bounds.

Next to being the children of God our greatest privilege is being the brothers of each other.

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Austrian-born Israeli Jewish Theologian, Philosopher and Writer