Philosophy Test: Essay on Immanuel Kant and Martin Buber Khadijah McCarthy Essay Question: How is Kant’s idea

of value similar to and different from Buber’s idea of borders in the passages below? (You may draw on other passages as well.) From Kant’s Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals: “In the kingdom of ends everything has either value or dignity. Whatever has a value can be replaced by something else which is equivalent; whatever, on the other hand, is above all value, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity.” From Buber’s I and Thou: “Whoever says You does not have something for his object. For wherever there is something there is also another something; every It borders on other Its; It is only by virtue of bordering on others. But where You is said there is no something. You has no borders. “Whoever says You does not have something; he has nothing. But he stands in relation.” Both Immanuel Kant and Martin Buber, in their works of literature, introduce an idea of borders, restrictions, and being confined to one realm or idea. Buber contrasts a “You” realm, in which there are no borders or restrictions, with an “It” realm, confined and restricted on all sides. Kant introduces the idea of value and dignity by defining both: he defines value as something that can be matched and thus replaced, and dignity as something that admits no equivalent, meaning it cannot be matched. These ideas are similar in a sense, because they both deal with some type of restriction. In Buber’s sense, if you decide to dwell in the “It” realm, you are confined by restrictions and borders because you yourself you yourself restrict others by referring to them as an “It,” meaning they have no intrinsic worth. In Kant’s case, if you only have value, then you are restricted because you possess something that others can also possess and match. Therefore, you are confining yourself to being easily replaced, because you choose only to have something that

admits equivalency. Kant and Buber are also similar in the sense that they both offer alternatives.With Buber, if you want to step out of the “It” world and get rid of your borders, you can, and with Kant, if you want to step out of restrictions caused by limiting yourself to value, then you can acquire dignity. However, that very same aspect that makes them similar also draws a line between the ideas of Buber and Kant. Kant offers a solution that is everlasting; as long as you have dignity, then you can never be matched, and because dignity has an intrinsic origin, you will have it for as long as you live. With Buber, you can only remain in the “You” realm for so long; as Buber states, “It [the “You” realm—KM] lacks duration, for it vanishes even when you try to cling to it.” If this “You” realm has the ability to vanish at any given point, and there is nothing that you can do to prevent that, then this may not always be a tangible, realistic alternative or solution. In conclusion, Immanuel Kant’s and Martin Buber’s idea of value and “It” are similar because they both address the problem of being restricted or confined by borders. In an attempt to solve this problem, they offer solutions, and in the solutions we see their differences. Buber gives a semi-tangible solution that only lasts for so long, whereas Kant gives a solution that is tangible and comes from within each of us. Hence, Kant and Buber are alike in the sense that they offer solutions to the problem of borders, but they differ in the duration of their solutions.

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