Re: The substance question of I-Thou and I-It

[ Martin Buber - Discussions ]

Written by Birgit at 04 Nov 2000 21:25:16:

As an answer to: Re: The substance question of I-Thou and I-It written by Simon Smith at 27 Sep 2000 19:42:20:

>>Has anyone thoughts concerning the relation of substance to I-Thou and I-It in Martin Buber`s Dialogical Philosophy? Look forward to widening my horizons!
>>What do you mean by 'substance'? If you're thinking about the traditional sense of the word (i.e the way it tends to be used in Western Scholastic Phiolosphy) then I don't think the term has much meaning for Buber or any of the phenomenological philosphers. The world (objects, things)exists. We know this because we interact with it, the world teaches us the meaning of our physicality (it resists our efforts to walk through it for example). At the same time @things@ do not possess an existence independent of us - there is no 'thing-hood' which stands over and above the object as we experience it. It does tend to get a bit confusing here because this doesn't mean that things do not exist, only that there is no das ding ans sich (I hope I've spelled that right - it's been a while since I've had to)or platonic form behind it. In fact, what defines the thing as a thing (the underlying 'substance' if you like) is language. Try Austin Farrer "Finite & Infinite" he's very reminiscent of Buber, or Stuart Hampshire - he gets into the hardcore of this question very nicely. There's quite a lot of material on this subject if you look for it. Does any of this help? Or even relate to your question? - S

Simon - Much obliged to you for your response. Your comments took my thinking a step further. By now I`ve arrived at the following understanding of substance in Buber:
The importance of Buber`s definition of reality as participation in the dialogue of life ("Alles wirkliche Leben ist Begegnung.") helped me to an understanding (maybe not the right one!)of the Inborn Thou; this led me to the thought that the substance all things are based on is the Inborn Thou.
This is similar to the thinking of Michelangelo`s often quoted conception of the figure as being imprisoned in the block and only being released by him (not created, but released by forming a relationship with it.)

You wrote, "what defines the thing as a thing ... is language". Here your definition of language would interest me very much, as language is a matter which has kept me busy for a long time.
Look forward to hearing from you,


[ Martin Buber - Discussions ]