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Full Access Verification (Bewährung) in Martin Buber

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Verification (Bewährung) in Martin Buber

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Abstract The work of Martin Buber oscillates between talk in which transcendence is experienced and talk in which transcendence is merely postulated. In order to show and mend this incoherence in Buber’s thought, this essay attends to the rhetoric of verification (Bewährung), primarily but not solely in I and Thou (1923), both in order to show how it is a symptom of this incoherence, and also to show a broad pragmatic strain in Buber’s thought. Given this pragmatic strain, the essay argues that a weak notion of Buberian verification, in which taking a dialogic stance with reference to others evinces the right to talk of the real possibility of transcendence (a You-world, or God as the “eternal You”), is all that is necessary to combat despair. Strong notions of encounter are unnecessary, and also sink Buber in a morass of theodicy, in which he interprets historical misfortune and destruction as evidence of history’s meaning.

Affiliations: 1: Florida State University

10.1163/147728512X629826
/content/journals/10.1163/147728512x629826
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
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Abstract The work of Martin Buber oscillates between talk in which transcendence is experienced and talk in which transcendence is merely postulated. In order to show and mend this incoherence in Buber’s thought, this essay attends to the rhetoric of verification (Bewährung), primarily but not solely in I and Thou (1923), both in order to show how it is a symptom of this incoherence, and also to show a broad pragmatic strain in Buber’s thought. Given this pragmatic strain, the essay argues that a weak notion of Buberian verification, in which taking a dialogic stance with reference to others evinces the right to talk of the real possibility of transcendence (a You-world, or God as the “eternal You”), is all that is necessary to combat despair. Strong notions of encounter are unnecessary, and also sink Buber in a morass of theodicy, in which he interprets historical misfortune and destruction as evidence of history’s meaning.

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2012-01-01
2016-12-03

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