Martin Buber


Austrian-born Israeli Jewish Theologian, Philosopher and Writer

Author Quotes

The world wants to be deceived.

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.

All this and its like is the basis of the realm of It.

Creation happens to us, burns into us, changes us, we tremble and swoon, we submit. Creation - we participate in it, we encounter the creator, offer ourselves to him, helpers and companions.

God is the "mysterium tremendum," that appears and overthrows, but he is also the mystery of the self-evident, nearer to me than my I.

An animal?s eyes have the power to speak a great language.

Dialogic is not to be identified with love. But love without dialogic, without real outgoing to the other, reaching to the other, the love remaining with itself - this is called Lucifer.

God wants man to fulfill his commands as a human being and with the quality peculiar to human beings.

An example may clarify more precisely the relation between the psychologist and the anthropologist. If both of them investigate, say, the phenomenon of anger, the psychologist will try to grasp what the angry man feels, what his motives and the impulses of his will are, but the anthropologist will also try to grasp what he is doing. In respect of this phenomenon self-observation, being by nature disposed to weaken the spontaneity and unruliness of anger, will be especially difficult for both of them. The psychologist will try to meet this difficulty by a specific division of consciousness, which enables him to remain outside with the observing part of his being and yet let his passion run its course as undisturbed as possible. Of course this passion can then not avoid becoming similar to that of the actor, that is, though it can still be heightened in comparison with an unobserved passion its course will be different: there will be a release which is willed and which takes the place of the elemental outbreak, there will be a vehemence which will be more emphasized, more deliberate, more dramatic. The anthropologist can have nothing to do with a division of consciousness, since he has to do with the unbroken wholeness of events, and especially with the unbroken natural connection between feelings and actions; and this connection is most powerfully influenced in self-observation, since the pure spontaneity of the action is bound to suffer essentially. It remains for the anthropologist only to resign any attempt to stay outside his observing self, and thus when he is overcome by anger not to disturb it in its course by becoming a spectator of it, but to let it rage to its conclusion without trying to gain a perspective. He will be able to register in the act of recollection what he felt and did then; for him memory takes the place of psychological self-experience. ... In the moment of life he has nothing else in his mind but just to live what is to be lived, he is there with his whole being, undivided, and for that very reason there grows in his thought and recollection the knowledge of human wholeness.

Each of us is encased in an armor which we soon, out of familiarity, cease to notice. There are only moments which penetrate it and stir the soul to sensibility.

He is no longer He or She, limited by other Hes and Shes, a dot in the world grid of space and time, nor a condition that can be experienced and described, a loose bundle of named qualities. Neighborless and seamless, he is You and fills the firmament. Not as if there were nothing but he; but everything else lives in his light. . . .

And if there were a devil it would not be one who decided against God, but one who, in eternity, came to no decision.

Eclipse of the light of heaven, eclipse of God - such indeed is the character of the historic hour through which the world is now passing

He who loves a woman, and brings her life to present realization in his, is able to look in the Thou of her eyes into a beam of the eternal Thou.

And in all the seriousness of truth, listen: without It a human being cannot live. But whoever lives only with that is not human.

Egos appear by setting themselves apart from other egos.

Hence the I of man is also twofold.

As experience, the world belongs to the primary word I-It.

Every morning I shall concern myself anew about the boundary between the love-deed-Yes and the power-deed-No and pressing forward honor reality. We cannot avoid using power, cannot escape the compulsion to afflict the world, so let us, cautious in diction and mighty in contradiction, love powerfully.

Here the relations is wrapped in a cloud but reveals itself, it lacks but creates language. We hear no You and yet addressed; we answer - creating, thinking, acting: with our being we speak the basic word, unable to say You with our mouth. But how can we incorporate into the world of the basic word that lies outside language?

As long as the firmament of the You is spread over me, the tempests of causality cower at my heels, and the whirl of doom congeals. The human being to whom I say You I do not experience. But i stand in relation to him, in the sacred basic word. Only when I step out of this do I experience him again. Experience is remoteness from You.

Every person born in this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique and every man or woman's foremost task is the actualization of his or her unique, unprecedented and never recurring possibilities.

How would man exist if God did not need him, and how would you exist? You need God in order to be, and God needs you - for that is the meaning of your life.

Basic words are spoken with one?s being.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date
Death Date

Austrian-born Israeli Jewish Theologian, Philosopher and Writer