Martin Buber


Austrian-born Israeli Jewish Theologian, Philosopher and Writer

Author Quotes

To strive for unity, by fashioning the soul into a unit, thus enabling it to conceive unity; to strive for action, by filling the soul with absoluteness, thus enabling it to substantiate the deed; to strive for the future, by freeing the soul from the cogwheel of [human] motives and turning it toward the goal, thus enabling it to serve the future.

Whoever says You does not have something; he has nothing. But he stands in relation.

If I had been asked in my early youth whether I preferred to have dealings only with men or only with books, my answer would certainly have been in favor of books. In later years this has become less and less the case. Not that I have had so much better experiences with men than with books; on the contrary, purely delightful books even now come my way more often than purely delightful men. But the many bad experiences with men have nourished the meadow of my life as the noblest book could not do, and the good experiences have made the earth into a garden for me? Here is an infallible test. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are alone, wholly alone on earth, and you are offered one of the two, books or men. I often hear men prizing their solitude, but that is only because there are still men somewhere on earth, even though in the far distance. I knew nothing of books when I came forth from the womb of my mother, and I shall die without books, with another human hand in my own. I do, indeed, close my door at times and surrender myself to a book, but only because I can open the door again and see a human being looking at me.

One cannot live in the pure present: it would consume us if care were not taken that it is overcome quickly and thoroughly. But in pure past one can live; in fact, only there can a life be arranged. One only has to fill every moment with experiencing and using, and it ceases to burn.

The existence of I and the speaking of I are one and the same thing.

The philosophical anthropologist ? can know the wholeness of the person and through it the wholeness of man only when he does not leave his subjectivity out and does not remain an untouched observer.

The You-world does not hang together in space and time.

Trust, trust in the world, because this human being exists - that is the most inward achievement of the relation in education. Because this human being exists, meaninglessness, however hard pressed you are by it, cannot be the real truth. Because this human being exists, in the darkness the light lies hidden, in fear salvation, and in the callousness of one's fellow-men the great Love.

Whoever speaks one of the basic words enters into the word and stands in it.

If Thou is said, the I of the combination I-Thou is said along with it.

Persons appear by entering into relation to other persons.

The fact that every people feel itself threatened by the others gives the state its definite unifying powers; it depends upon the instinct of self-preservation of society itself; the latent external crisis enables it to get the upper hand in internal crises

The primary word I-It can never be spoken with the whole being.

There is a divine meaning of the world, of man, of human persons, of you and me.

We are told that man experiences his world. What does this mean?

Without distance there is no dialogue between the two.

In philosophical anthropology, ? where the subject is man in his wholeness, the investigator cannot content himself, as in anthropology as an individual science, with considering man as another part of nature and with ignoring the fact that he, the investigator, is himself a man and experiences this humanity in his inner experience in a way that he simply cannot experience any part of nature.

Power abdicates only under the stress of counter-power.

The I of the basic word I-Thou is different from that of the basic word I-It.

The primary word I-Thou can be spoken only with the whole being. Concentration and fusion into the whole being can never take place through my agency, not can it ever take place without me. I become through my relation to the Thou; and as I become the I, I say Thou. All real living is meeting.

There is no I as such but only the I of the basic word I-You and the I of the basic word I-It.

We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.

You can rake the muck this way, rake the muck that way-- it will always be muck. Have I sinned or have I not sinned? In the time I am brooding over it, I could be stringing pearls for the delight of Heaven

In spite of all similarities, every living situation has, like a newborn child, a new face, that has never been before and will never come again. It demands of you a reaction that cannot be prepared beforehand. It demands nothing of what is past. It demands presence, responsibility; it demands you.

Primary words are spoken from the being.

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Austrian-born Israeli Jewish Theologian, Philosopher and Writer