The central category of Martin Buber's philosophy of dialogue is undoubtedly the relation I-You, standing in opposition to the relation I-It, which is in fact a separation. In order to achieve his fuli humanity a mań should take a relation I-You as often as possible. Just to this relation arę unbindingly attached the values presented by Martin Buber in his theory. Such values will be analysed below. The analysis consists accordingly of: A) a description of the construction of the I-You relation, B) a discussion of its properties (values), and C) a description of spheres in which the relation may appear.

Writing about construction of the relation I-You, Buber firstly characterizes its first part, namely the You. The notion "You" means man's certain, specific attitudes towards a partner in dialogue, characterized by respect due to the partner's existential value. Under the word "You" the author means not only an object of relation, but something that appears in a given situation between a subject and an object, and this means the confirmation of the others's value. 'The essence of a dialogical situation is expressed by Buber in the following words: "Spirit is not in the I, but between I and You. It is not like the blood that circulates in you but like the air in which you breathe."1 You, in opposition to It, cannot be influenced by the categories that rule in the materiał world, i.e. time, space, causality. The being treated as You is saturated by spirit. When in turn the "I" is considered (of course the "I" of the I-You relation), it is internally well-ordered and can be named "person." In Buber's understanding the notion "person" means a mań open to dialogue, ready at every moment to lead a dialogue with a being from which a cali comes.

A-T. Tymieniecka (ed.), Analecta Husserliana LXVII, 55—63. '()()() A / m i r r Aciulemii' Puhlishem. Printed In the Netherlands.





According to Buber, such a relation is characterised by the following features: presence, unmediating, exclusiveness, mutuality, impermanence and responsibility. The feature of presence means readiness of a subject for the meeting, readiness to accept a cali and answer it. It is the presence understood as "nic et nunc," because: "The I of the basie word I-It . . . has only past and no present," whereas "What is essential is lived in the present."2 The feature of being unmediated means that nothing appears between the two objects of dialogue. According to my interpretation it can be understood in two ways: cognitively, as the łąck of any prior assumptions, and valuationally. In the first case there is nothing conceptual between I and You. As far as the valuational sense of being unmediated is concerned, this means that all additional aims, however worthy they might be, should be excluded from the relation, because the only aim of the dialogue is the dialogue itself. The feature of exclusiveness means that only two beings can participate in a given dialogue at a given moment, because man's possibilities of initiating and sustaining a given dialogue arc l i m i l c d , and complete concentration upon one partner in dialogue excludes the possibility of being involved in dialogue with other partners at the same time. It should be mentioned that this limitation does not refer to Ihc Hlernal You (God) - able to lead simultaneous dialogues with all other beings. Buber stresses this fact many times. And here is an example: "Evcry actual relationship in the world is exclusive. . . . Solely in the relation to God arę 3 unconditional exclusiveness and unconditional inclusiveness one. . . ." The feature of mutuality means interaction between Ihc Iwo partners involved in dialogue. Buber states this outright thusly: "Relation is reciprocity. My You acts on me as I act on it. Our students teach us, 4 our works form us." Before mutuality appears, we have a siluation in which one of the sides in the dialogue sends an invitation to dialogue, and the other side answers it. It is the characteristic trait of such a dialogue that every being can send a cali to dialogue, whereas the answer can be supplied only by a being which is a person, first of all by mań. The feature of impermanence means in turn that the I-You relation does not last forever, that it has a tendency to become the I-It relation, and therefore constant effort is needed to sustain the first relation and to limit the second. No mań, however, is capable of being in constant relation of I-You, and Buber stresses this sad fact numerous times.

Accordingly, in Buher's theory one can distinguish two kinds of responsibility. This - unfortunately - has remained unnoticed so far by all Ihc interpreters of Buber's theory whom I know of. The first one, i - . \ p l k - i i l y expressed by the author himself and therefore generally acknowledged by critics, is the responsibility of the I for the You. Howcver, one can talk about the second kind of responsibility, expressed by the author only implicitly and strongly connected with the category of freedom, which is the responsibility for giving up the I-It relation in order to get involved in the I-You relation, as often as possible.

Ouile a separate problem is the question referring to potential partners i n dialogue, in regard to which a dialogue can be initiated, or who initiate it themselves. Firstly, dialogue may be initiated with naturę, that is with different forms of the materiał world. In this case, "The relation vibrates in the dark and remains below language. The creatures . . . arę unable to come to us, and the You we say to them sticks to the threshold of language."5 Because beings coming out of this sphere cannot use speech, they turn towards mań with a cali formulated in a way suited to their particular level of development. In the very important Afterword to "I and Thou" written in 1957, that is, after morę than thirty years of thinking about the theory under discussion, the thinker answered the ąuestion concerning the character of mutuality given to mań by naturę. And so in this sphere, rcaching from stones to stars, one can basically talk about "the threshold ni mutuality" in which we find "reciprocity of being itself- a reciprocity l hal has nothing except being," 6 and therefore is identical with such a being. Secondly, dialogue may be initiated with mań. According to Buber: "Herę the relation is manifest and enters language. We can give and receive the You."7 A mań sends his appeal using speech, with one of mc languages. This is truły the most essential kind of dialogue. In the above-mentioned Afterword, the author answers the ąuestion of whether t u l i mutuality is always possible in this sphere. Hę claims that fuli m i i l u a l i t y is not possible in every particular relation, that it may or may not happen. What is morę, there exist such I-You relations in which din- a priori cannot count on fuli mutuality. Such a situation is typical ol i l u - l o l l o w i n g relations: educator-pupil, psychotherapist-patient,





clergyman-worshipper. For exampłe: in case of the i r l a l i o n educatorpupil, the educator, in order to bring out what is best in l i i s pupil, must participate in the meeting by also looking at it from Ihe pupil's point of view, practising the kind of relation which embraccs Ihc whole situation. Similar situations appear in two other cases. Thirdly, dialogue may be initiated with spiritual beings. Herę, ". . . the relation is wrapped in a cloud but reveals itself, it lacks but creates language. We hear no You and yet feel addressed; we answer - creating, thinking, acting. . . ."8 The above-mentioned spiritual beings arę first of all, it seems, the products of culture. In case of dialogue with them, the I of an artist - every mań is an artist in certain situations! - answers a cali through the realisation of his own artistic visions, whereas the I of the receiving person does so through reception of the work of art, within concrete aesthetic experience. In the Afterword of 1957, Buber distinguishes "the spirit that has already entered the world" from "the spirit that has not yet entered the world but is ready to do so."9 As examples of the first, hę mentions concrete products of people who died thousands of years ago: the traditional sayings of a master, and the Doric colunin. In the second case, Buber refers to creative influences and inspiration of the spirit that everyone has felt at some time. Such spirit demands a realisalion, a fulfillment on behalf of the person within the frame of a given artistic actiyity. Among the above-mentioned kinds of dialogue, the most important is the dialogue with mań. According to Buber, only in tlić dialogue of mań with mań one can achieve fuli mutuality, becausr o n l y in such cases does a cali eąual an answer with respect to ąuality - in both aspects, that is with respect to the ąuality of beings engaged i n a given relation, and with respect to means of communication (human speedi). Some commentators of Buber's theory cali him a "personalist". I think they arę right, all the morę so as hę often stresses the fact Ihal the effort connected with achieving and sustaining the relation I-You confirms the development of personality, the fact that the person is being created.10 Much attention is payed in Buber's considerations to the dialogue of a human being with the Eternal You. In spite of appearances of other kinds of dialogue, I am not certain whether the fourth kind of dialogue is considered in this case. The author stresses the fact that the dialogue I-Eternal You is superior to the dialogues with naturę, mań and spiritual beings, that it constitutes their base, conditions them and becomes realised in each I-You relation.

According to the uuthnr, every encounter ultimately leads to the Eternal Y m i , but "when the perfect encounter is to occur, the gates arę unified i n i o i l u - one gate of aclual life, and you no longer know through which ulu- you have entered."" Buber is deeply convinced that when a given lu-ing does not answer a cali directed towards it, the answer is supplied somcwhat as a s u b s l i l u t e - by the Eternal You, and it is done by particular beings and events of the world.

In reference to the above-mentioned views certain ąuestions and doubts may appear. Nów I would like to pay some attention to several of them. One of the most intriguing and unresolved ąuestions is the ąuestion concerning the naturę of the dialogue, namely whether it happe.ns on Ihe basis of positive feelings only or is also possible in regard to the negative ones. Although the author himself does not give an explicit answer in this respect, one can draw the conclusion on the basis of some of his expressions that hę allows the possibility of meetings based on negative feelings, too. Hę writes, for example: "Yet whoever hates directly is closer to a relation than those who arę without love and hate."12 Accordingly, the philosophy of dialogue, in order not to lose any of its cognitive and explanatory value, should not limit itself to meetings based only on positive feelings.' 3 A well known and often cited saying of Buber's: "Every real life is a meeting," should perhaps be followed by "not only with others but also w i t h oneself." But is it possible to conduct a dialogue with oneself? Tlić author of "I and Thou" does not accept such a possibility. According ui li i m this would be a false dialogue, in fact, a monologue. But neverilu-less, some theoreticians try to build a theory of such a dialogue. For r \ample, Reinhold Niebuhr does this, and at the same time confirms a ! ' i r a l influence exerted upon him by Buber.'4 Recalling the theory of l ' i v u d , hę points out the possibility of leading the dialogue among pari i r u l a r spheres of personality: id, ego and superego. Hę tries to prove that \\v often have to deal with a personality splitting into two foci that arę a h k - to hołd a dialogue with each other. One of them appears in a s i i b j e c l i y e aspect and the other in an objective one.15 According to N i r b n h i , such a situation appears first of all in cases of self-evaluation. A vvi y serious counter-argument against this is the opinion that only fully •.iil>|tviiw beings aro ahle to conduct such a dialogue. 16





A very interesting question is the problem of chan^os appearing in mań during meetings. According to Buber, during a givon nieeting man's potentiality is strengthened. This means that firstly, ho is given reciprocity; secondly, hę receives inexpressible confirmation of meaning; and thirdly, the meaning of his own life "here and nów" becornes clear to him. The author stresses the fact that every meeting constitutes a fact, individualised and unique to the highest degree. Hę writes: "The meaning we receive can be put to proof in action only by each person in the uniąueness of his being and in the uniqueness of his life."' One cannot agree without objections with Buber's opinion, which says that "no prescription can lead us to the encounter." 18 Because even if no method can guarantee a concrete encounter - and this refers mainly to the interhuman sphere - I think that a good teacher may prepare his pupil, for example, for an encounter with a piece of art, by teaching him to be really sensitive to art. In generał such a pupil is well prepared to "meet" works of art in the world around him. Buber's philosophy of dialogue, a phenomenon appearing in three spheres, proves that there is no sharp distinction between sacred and profane, because both mań and the world s u r r o u n d i n g him arę saturated by spirit, and the only linę of division we can l a i k about is the one separating You and It. Every being may becomc You and similarly every being may, or even must - after some time - bccome It. Of course this does not refer to the Eternal You. The question referring to the possibility of direcl mcelings with the Eternal You is also justifiable. Martin Buber allows lor ihc possibility of such meetings, describing them as the "highest." However, they happen rather rarely and only in a true community, when "men's rclations to their true You, being radii that lead from all I-points to the centcr, create a circle. Not the periphery, not the community comes first, but the radii, the common relation to the center."19 In the above-mentioned case, Buber adapts to his own use the concept transferred from the Hasidic movement (about which morę later on), according to which the central point of all relations of a given community is its spiritual leader, the zaddik.20 Martin Buber's philosophical views do not pretend to be strictly scientific, if only because of the fact that they arę not based on any objective, empirical studies. They seem to be inspired by the Hasidic inheritance, the existential thought of Herman Cohen, and "existential experiences" of the author from his youth. 21 The first one especially, the Hasidic movement, influenced Martin Buber's views, and to such

.111 c Mont that these viows may be defined as neo-Hasidic. The thinker lor an answer aboul the sense of life and found it in the Hasidic Mce (one of the currents of Judaism), in the trend initiated by i l u - 1'olish .lew named l/rael ben Eliezer (1700-1760). The essence of Ihis i i o i u l may be cxprcsscd in the comdction that life in this world and loj-.oihor w i l h the world is the superior duty of mań; the trend also payed atlonlion lo Ihe fact that all reality was of a spiritual character. Buber m o d i l i o d and developed the Hasidic inheritance understood in such a way; one can even venture the statement that its fullest explication was i n i i i p r i s o d in "I and Thou." A i c o u l i n g to his theory, the most fundamental vocation of mań "in I h i s world" sustains a realisation of man's humanism by means of difh - i o n i r o l a l i o n s of the I-You type. The author also intercepted, for his own use, the Hasidic belief that real life appears in normality of evefyday l i l r , i hal the mań about whom Buber writes is an everyday mań - not ul Ihe Sahbalh. One can say that the philosopher is an existentialist, but only in the sonso Ihat ho is not interested in any abstract naturę of mań. Hę is inloroslod in a widely understood situation of mań in the world which o l l o r s possibilities for meetings of a different type - every single one ni i i i i i c | u e character. In constructing his theory, the author gives up sharp t l i v i s i o n s into subject and object. In his theory, subject and object, i oimected by a spirit that appears between them, create a qualitatively nów wholeness, a new structure, and the life in their meeting appears .is somcthing most important. Buber underlines the totally personal • h . n . u lor of human existence, and according to him, the adjective l » i .onal" means much morę than "subjective." It is like this because in onlor lo become personal, what is subjective must be accomplished l'\ " l i n o relatedness," by an element of spirit. And this, first of all, . i i l n l e s the metaphysics of a Buberian conception. In the light of i l i * .il>ove, it is also obvious that there is no possibility of coming back in .1 metaphysics offering the dualism based on contrast between n.inonce and transcendence. It should be also stressed that Buber's l Y i i n r e l a t i o n has no mystical character, that,hę treats all beings as < n . i i i n j 1 . a community, whereas the assumption that God is present in r \ v i \ parlicular relation remains a ąuestion of faith. l h o i o is no doubt that "relation" is the most basie category of Buber's l > l i i l i ' M i | t l i v . Only rnan's "true relatedness," and therefore live dialogue mi spniitaiieity and trust, allows mań to create true community. The



Y A l . l l h S W 1 T H I N RELATIONS


thinker accepts neither collectivity - because hę I h i n k s of it as the "atrophy" of personality, nor individualism - because ii is a separation, and decidedly approves of personality and communily. In the work 7 and Thou hę presents the picture of mań considered as a mysterious unity of different relations heavily loaded with different ethical categories. And just this, to me, determines that the basie motif of his creativity may be described as anthropological and ethical. It should be stressed that the relational attitude towards the other means neither subjectivism (tendentiousness) nor sentimentalism. Neither psychological nor sociological interpretations arę able to grasp the essence of true relation. At least, that is Buber's opinion. Despite the fact that the ontological status of relation was never fully explained by Buber, his views greatly influenced his contemporaries' ways of thinking. The influence is especially well seen in theology (especially Protestant), but also in secular ways of philosophising, because the spheres of dialogue of bom atheists and believers remain generally the same. I am deeply convinced that Buber's theory suggests answers which arę especially iinportant to contemporary mań, who is living in a constant hurry and avoiding true meetings with others. And it is just such meetings that decide the ąuality of our humanity. Academy of Agriculture Jagiellonian University Cracow
1 Martin Buber, / and Thou, A New Translation, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: 1970), p. 89; and Ks. Stanisław Kowalczyk, Bóg w myśli współczesnej (Wrocław: 1982), pp. 88-91. '• Buber, / and Thou, op. cit., pp. 63-64. ' Ibidem, p. 148. * Ibidem, p. 67. 5 Ibidem, pp. 56-57. 6 Ibidem, p. 173. 1 Ibidem, p. 57. 8 Ibidem. 9 Ibidem, p. 174. 10 Taking into consideration the fact that mań, in his ontogenetic development, must go through three stages, those of the primary I-You relationship, the I-It relationship, and the I-You relationship, and also the fact that this "going through" is accompanied

b W) inlense emotional i - x | n - i n - m v s , we arc impelled to point out that Buber's theory ' »' ' • M.mi of its aspects, pice m s o i y in relation to the theory of positive disintegration •!• • • I"|"-'I I'V Kazimierz Dalmiwski, Dezintegracja pozytywna (Warsaw: 1979); andedited b) MI, ume toithor: Zdrowie psychiczne (Waisw. 1979), pp. 46-63.
l i u l i r i . / ,iii,l Thou. ,i/>. cii., p. 150.

!'•»<• .lo/rl T i M l m r i . "Spotkania w horyzoncie zła," Analecta Cracoviensia MII i l ' i s i i. Adam Wegrzecki, O poznawaniu drugiego człowieka (Kraków: 1990), pp. l ' i i II K Y i n l i n l d N i r l i i i l n , /'/«• V// ,iml the Dramas of History (London: 1956), p. 11. Ihiili-in. p I X . Ii slmiilil l H- noticed, however, that the author has in mind the ąuite l" . i l i h v (m u-'.|ia l ID i i > m,J lu-iillh) personality. But his reaching to Freud's concept in ••'•l' i i" I m i l i l h i s own theory of internal dialogue does not seem to be the most llc ''•' "!' .L U-rausi-, I n s l of all, Freud's theory seems to lose much of its actuality in
lin h.nr.In

IbUim, |>. 68.

H" ' ' l < ' > a i r i i i i i c n t loscs much of its actuality when we recall Buber's spheres • •l d i . i l i i f i u - w i i h n a i i i i c and with spiritual beings and realise at the same time that only "prMence" ul In-ing permits engaging in dialogue. Unln'1, / ,in,l Tłum, p. 159.
lin,!,'ni lhi,l, ni


I I . n r . K i i l m , Martin Buber. Sein Work und seine Zeit (Koln: 1961), p. 186. ['."i- Mic dcscription of meeting a horse, in Buber's Between Mań and Mań Y o i k I')4X), p. 41.