Re: The Eternal You

[ Martin Buber - Discussions ]

Written by Jesus Nacananay at 22 Jan 2001 04:25:35:

As an answer to: The Eternal You written by Buber's Buddy at 14 Dec 2000 03:44:20:

>Question...does anyone have a grasp on the "eternal you" and how it functions. Buber writes that it is impossible to experience, then how do we know it exists?

I'll attempt an answer...
Straightfoward answer: The Eternal You (Absolute Thou) is Being. Being is not experienced, at least not directly experienced. But if existence is to have a ground, that ground is God, religiously speaking, and that ground is Being, philosophically speaking.

Support for this answer/the long answer: Buber in his essay "What is Man" (in Between Man and Man) critiques Heidegger's notion of the human being as monological. I don't exactly remember Buber's argument, but you see, Heidegger speaks of the human person as a "being towards death", Dasein. This, for Heidegger, is the ultimate stance of a human person whereby her authenticity or inauthenticity is brought to light. Death is always "my death", eminently "my own". Now Heidegger's study into the human person is not to develop a philosophical anthropology where most existentialists fall. Heidegger's study of the human person is to enable him to formulate THE question of BEING, a fundamental ontology.
Come Buber. Buber sees our existence as a response to Being. Collins (though compariing Kierkegaard and Heidegger, and not talking about Buber) speak of the invitation to Being. Heidegger, for all his penetrating focus on the question of Being, is "silent" on Being. That is, Being and Time still ends on the open question on What is Being. He does not say that Being is God, and yet it seems that there are good arguments to actually end on such an assertion, that Being is God.
Buber can end on such an assertion, taking God as the Eternal You/Absolute Thou. Being is after all, for Buber, is really a constant (ongoing, perpetual, active) living out -- a point which I think is shared with Heidegger. (Death, the end of life, for Heidegger, is the possibility of not-being.
You see, I think Buber provides the impetus or motive of being in a more convincing manner than Heidegger who seems to settle only on temporality as a given.
So, human persons in existence respond to Being. "Respond" is an important word that points to the dialogue. Only human persons respond (only Dasein, for Heidegger, raises the question of Being). Human persons are addressed and respond to a Thou/a You... not to a thing, but to a Thou/a You. Hence, Being can only be seen as a Thou/a You ... not the thou or you as among persons, but an ultimate thou/you identified with Being. Hence, Being is rightly called the Absolute Thou or Eternal You.

This may seem queer, but it seems that I know that the Eternal You/Absolute Thou exists, or is not separate from existence, because I raise the question of Being. (So here you have a Heideggerian starting point that ends with Buber.)

I'd appreciate any feedback.



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