World-famous in his later years, Buber traveled and lectured extensively in Europe and the United States. Buber's wide range of interests, his literary abilities, and the general appeal of his philosophical orientation are reflected in the far-flung correspondence he conducted over the course of his long life. Among the poets of his time with whom he exchanged letters were Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Hermann Hesse, and Stefan Zweig. He was particularly close to the socialist and Zionist novelist Arnold Zweig.
Agnon Buber shared a deep interest in the revival of Hebrew literature. He was a major inspiration to the young Zionist cadre of Prague Jews Hugo Bergmann, Max Brod, Robert Weltsch and, while he was able to organize and direct Jewish adult education in Germany, he inadvertently provided a last bastion for the free exchange of ideas for non-Jews as well. The journal Der Jude, founded and edited by Buber from until , and several editions of his speeches on Judaism made Buber the central figure of the Jewish cultural renaissance of the early twentieth century.
Among Buber's early philosophical influences were Kant's Prolegomena , which he read at the age of fourteen, and Nietzsche's Zarathustra. Haunted by the edgelessness of time and space, Buber found solace in Kant's understanding that space and time are forms of human intuition by which we organize a chaotic manifold of sense perceptions, and that being transcends human concepts like finitude or infinity.
From Nietzsche and Schopenhauer he learned the importance of human will, the power to project oneself heroically into the world of flux, and to do so according to one's own measure and standard. Though Buber's philosophy of dialogue is a decisive step away from Nietzschean vitalism, the focus on lived experience and embodied human wholeness, as well as the prophetic tone and aphoristic style Buber honed from early on, persisted in his subsequent writings. In Vienna he absorbed the oracular poetry of Stefan George, which influenced him greatly, although he never became a disciple of George.
In Leipzig and Berlin he developed an interest in the ethno-psychology of Wilhelm Wundt, the social philosophy of Georg Simmel, the psychology of Carl Stumpf, and the lebensphilosophische approach to the humanities of Wilhelm Dilthey. From his early reading of philosophical literature Buber retained some of the most basic convictions found in his later writings.
In Kant he found two answers to his concern with the nature of time. If time and space are pure forms of perception, then they pertain to things only as they appear to us as phenomena and not to things-in-themselves noumena. Thus time concerns the way in which we experience not just things but also people. If our experience of others, especially of persons, is of objects of our experience, then we necessarily reduce them to the scope of our phenomenal knowledge, in other words, to what Buber later called the I-It relation. Yet Kant also indicated ways of meaningfully speaking of the noumenal, even though not in terms of theoretical reason.
Practical reason — i. This suggests something like an absolute obligation. Teleological aesthetic judgment, as developed in Kant's Third Critique, suggests the possibility of a rational grounding of representation. Taken together, Kant's conceptions of ethics and aesthetics resonated with Buber's notion that the phenomenon is always the gateway to the noumenon, just as the noumenal cannot be encountered other than in and by way of concrete phenomena.
Thus Buber managed to meld Kantian metaphysical and ethical conceptions into a more immediate relation with things as they appear to us and as we represent them to ourselves that resonated with a conception of reality in its immediacy that he had discovered in Nietzsche. Buber thus conceives of the Dionysian primacy of life in its particularity, immediacy, and individuality and the Apollonian world of form, measure, and abstraction as inter-dependent.
Both are constitutive of human experience in that they color our interactions with the Other in nature, with other human beings, and with the divine Thou. Buber uses Gestalt as a term of central, constitutive, and animating power, contrasting it with the Platonic term Form , which he associates with a lack of genuine vitality. Commenting upon a work by Michelangelo, Buber speaks of Gestalt as hidden in the raw material, waiting to emerge as the artist wrestles with the dead block. The artistic struggle instantiates and represents the more fundamental opposition between formative gestaltende and shapeless gestaltlose principles.
The tension between these, for Buber, lay at the source of all spiritual renewal, raging within every human individual as the creative, spiritual act that subjugates unformed, physical stuff b: It is the free play of Gestalt that quickens the dead rigidity of form. The wrestling with form and its overcoming and its reanimation with living energy in Buber's early work was rooted in a concern with the embodiment of perception and imagination.
Everything starts from the most basic facts of human existence: the body and motion. As understood by the early Buber following a Kantian intuition , the world is one in which the objective spatial order was dissolved, where up and down, left and right, bear no intrinsic meaning. More fundamentally, orientation is always related to the body, which is, however, an objective datum. Ethical life remains inextricably linked, within the world of space, to the human body and to physical sensation as they reach across the divide toward an unmitigated Erlebnis.
Buber conceived of political community as a type of plastic shape, an object or subject of Gestaltung and hence realization. The first arena for his social, psychological, and educational engagement was the Zionist movement. Buber's interest in social philosophy was stimulated by Gustav Landauer whom he recruited to write the volume on revolution for his series Die Gesellschaft. As a pioneer of social thought and a student of Georg Simmel, Buber participated in the founding conference of the German sociological association. While Buber's social-psychological approach to the study and description of social phenomena was eclipsed by quantitative approaches, his interest in the constitutive correlation between the individual and his and her social experience remained an important aspect of his philosophy of dialogue.
It came to the fore again in his last academic position at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he taught social philosophy prominent students: Amitai Etzioni, Shmuel Eisenstadt. Buber's thought matured under the impact of the realization that he had unduly romanticized the war. Buber's lead essay of the new journal Der Jude still praised the war as an opportunity for the modern Jew to forge out of the chaos of rupture a feeling for community, connection, a new unity, a unified Gestalt , one that could restore the Jewish people to a condition of wholeness.
Landauer's challenge to the grotesque fusion of Erlebnis , Gemeinschaft, and Gestalt out of world war and mass slaughter precipitated the end of aesthetic religiosity in Buber's work. Buber's best-known work is the short philosophical essay I and Thou , the basic tenets of which he was to modify, but never to abandon. We are beings that can enter into dialogic relations not just with human others but with other animate beings, such as animals, or a tree, as well as with the Divine Thou. The duality of relations and, at its extreme, their coincidence, may serve as the key to Buber's mature thought on everything from his approach to biblical faith to his practical politics in matters of Jewish-Arab relations in Palestine.
In the s and 60s, when Buber first traveled and lectured in the USA, the essay became popular in the English-speaking world as well. Whereas before World War I Buber had promoted an aesthetic of unity and unification, his later writings embrace a rougher and more elemental dualism. Complicating the undifferentiated shape of mystical experience as sought by the medievals, including Eckhart, as an annihilation of self , the profoundly dualistic world-view proffered in I and Thou references Cusa's coincidentia oppositorum as an expression of human limits.
They are the elemental variables whose combination and re-combination structure all experience as relational. The individuated elements realize themselves in relations, forming patters that burst into life, grow, vanish, and revive. Human inter-subjectivity affirms the polymorphous I-Thou encounter. The heteronomous revelation of a singular presence calls the subject into an open-ended relationship, a living pattern, that defies sense, logic, and proportion; whereas the I-It relationship, in its most degenerate stage, assumes the fixed form, the density and duration of hyper-realist painting, of objects that one can measure and manipulate.
Contrasting with the Kantian concept of experience Erfahrung , Erlebnis encounter , or revelation of sheer presence, is an ineffable, pure form that carries not an iota of determinate or object-like conceptual or linguistic content.
Buber always insisted that the dialogic principle, i. Debates about the strength and weakness of I and Thou as the foundation of a system hinge, in part, on the assumption that the five-volume project, to which this book was to serve as a prolegomenon a project Buber abandoned , was indeed a philosophical one.
Schottroff, Zank. In Buber's cyclical conception of the history of religions, the revelation of presence mixes into and animates the living and lived forms of historical religion institutions, texts, rituals, images, and ideas , becoming over time ossified and rigid and object-like, but structurally open to the force of renewal based on new forms of encounter as revelation.
The history of religion as described by Buber in the closing words of I and Thou is a contracting, intensifying spiral figure that has redemption as its telos. It would be artificial, however, to separate Buber's interest in religious phenomena from his interest in a general philosophical anthropology. Rather, Buber seems to have tried to find one in the other, or—put differently—to make religious belief and practice perspicacious in light of a general philosophical anthropology. At the very beginning of his literary career, Buber was recruited by the Budapest-born and Vienna-based journalist Theodor Herzl to edit the main paper of the Zionist party, Die Welt.
Buber's phases of engagement in the movement's political institutions alternated with extended phases of disengagement, but he never ceased to write and speak about what he understood to be the distinctive Jewish brand of nationalism. Buber seems to have derived an important lesson from the early struggles between political and cultural Zionism for the leadership and direction of the movement.
He realized that his place was not in high diplomacy and political education but in the search for psychologically sound foundations on which to heal the rift between modern realpolitik and a distinctively Jewish theological-political tradition.
Very much in keeping with the nineteenth-century Protestant yearning for a Christian foundation of the nation-state, Buber sought a healing source in the integrating powers of religious experience. After a hiatus of more than ten years during which Buber spoke to Jewish youth groups most famously the Prague Bar Kokhba but refrained from any practical involvement in Zionist politics, he reentered Zionist debates in when he began publishing the journal Der Jude , which served as an open forum of exchange on any issues related to cultural and political Zionism.
In the debates that followed the first anti-Zionist riots in Palestine, Buber joined the Brit Shalom, which argued for peaceful means of resistance. During the Arab revolt of —39, when the British government imposed quotas on immigration to Palestine, Buber argued for demographic parity rather than trying to achieve a Jewish majority. Finally, in the wake of the Biltmore Conference, Buber as a member of Ihud argued for a bi-national rather than a Jewish state in Palestine.
At any of these stages Buber harbored no illusion about the chances of his political views to sway the majority but he believed that it was important to articulate the moral truth as one saw it. Needless to say, this politics of authenticity made him few friends among the members of the Zionist establishment. At the theoretical core of the Zionism advanced by Buber was a conception of Jewish identity being neither a religious nor a national form, but a unique hybrid. From early on, Buber rejected any state-form for the Jewish people in Palestine.
This was clear already in a widely-noted exchange of letters with the liberal philosopher Hermann Cohen.
Cohen rejected Zionism as incommensurate with the Jewish mission of living as a religious minority with the task of maintaining the idea of messianism that he saw as a motor of social and political reform within society at large. In contrast, Buber embraced Zionism as the self-expression of a particular Jewish collective that could be realized only in its own land, on its soil, and in its language. The modern state, its means and symbols, however, were not genuinely connected to this vision of a Jewish renaissance.
While in the writings of the early war years, Buber had characterized the Jews as an oriental type in perpetual motion, in his later writings the Jews represent no type at all. Neither nation nor creed, they uncannily combine what he called national and spiritual elements. In his letter to Ghandi, Buber insisted on the spatial orientation of Jewish existence and defended the Zionist cause against the critic who saw in it only a form of colonialism.
For Buber, space was a necessary but insufficient material condition for the creation of culture based on dialogue. Freud tried similar coercion on his patients, and it worked. But it was a laborious procedure, and in the long run an exhausting one; and it was unsuited to serve as a permanent technique. However, the very difficulty and laboriousness of the process led Freud to a crucial insight. For example, one of his patients Elisabeth von R. Eventually, by ceasing to badger the patient and allowing him to say anything he liked, Freud arrived at stumbled on the psychoanalytic method that has remained unchanged to this day.
He quotes from a letter that Schiller wrote in in reply to a friend who had complained of meagre literary production:. The ground for your complaint seems to me to lie in the constraint imposed by your reason upon your imagination. I will make my idea more concrete by a simile. It seems a bad thing and detrimental to the creative work of the mind if Reason makes too close an examination of the ideas as they come pouring in—at the very gateway, as it were.
Looked at in isolation, a thought may seem very trivial or very fantastic; but it may be made important by another thought that comes after it, and, in conjunction with other thoughts that may seem equally absurd, it may turn out to form a most effective link. Reason cannot form any opinion upon all this unless it retains the thought long enough to look at it in connection with the others.
On the other hand, where there is a creative mind, Reason—so it seems to me—relaxes its watch upon the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell, and only then does it look them through and examine them in a mass. You critics, or whatever else you may call yourselves, are ashamed or frightened of the momentary and transient extravagances which are to be found in all truly creative minds and whose longer or shorter duration distinguishes the thinking artist from the dreamer.
You complain of your unfruitfulness because you reject too soon and discriminate too severely. Just as there are few people who can write poems like Schiller, there are few analytic patients who can free-associate easily, if at all. I do not know of any outside influence which drew my interest to them or inspired me with any helpful expectations. At that period, I was completely isolated, and in the network of problems and accumulation of difficulties I often dreaded losing my bearings, and also my confidence.
It was only my success in this direction that enabled me to persevere. There will be brought home to you with irresistible force the many developments, repressions, sublimations, and reaction-formations by means of which a child with a quite other innate endowment grows into what we call a normal man—the bearer, and in part the victim, of the civilization that has been so painfully acquired.
Freud pauses here to take one of his habitual swipes at the opponents of psychoanalysis, comparing them to patients under the sway of resistance. This argument puts the reader into a quandary. People are in general not candid over sexual matters.
They do not show their sexuality freely, but to conceal it they wear a heavy overcoat woven of a tissue of lies, as though the weather were bad in the world of sexuality. These came to light after the Second World War and were published in All choices were hopeless: either a young man went to prostitutes and got syphilis and gonorrhea or he masturbated and became neurasthenic; women who married neurasthenic thus impotent men became hysterical; women and men who perforce practiced coitus interruptus to avoid conception became neurotic. By , Freud had undergone the intellectual revolution that took him from this dour but unremarkable social view of sexual malaise to his radical psychological theories regarding infantile sexuality and the Oedipus complex.
No one leaves childhood unscathed; few reach adulthood capable of love and heterosexual sex. Does he become a libertine and rebel? Extremely unlikely, Freud says. Or, finally, he may choose to claim some modicum of sexual happiness for himself. Freud here protests as he continued to do into the twenties and thirties the too harsh repressions of society.
Freud himself preferred to align the psychoanalytic revolution with the revolution of Copernicus and then the revolution of Darwin, saying that the first showed that the earth was not the center of the universe, the second that man was not a unique creation, and the third that man was not even master of his own house. It was as if a lonely terrorist working in his cellar on a modest explosive device to blow up the local brewery had unaccountably found his way to the hydrogen bomb and blown up half the world.
The fallout from this bomb has yet to settle. The other is the narrow, inward-turning path of psychoanalytic therapy: a hidden, almost secret byway travelled by few the analysts and their patients , edged by decrepit mansions with drawn shades the training institutes and the analytic societies , marked with inscrutable road signs the scientific papers —the road along which Aaron Green is trudging. His work with patients was leading him to new appreciations of the complexity of the task. The absence of the regulating effect offered by the payment of a fee to the doctor makes itself very painfully felt; the whole relationship is removed from the real world, and the patient is deprived of a strong motive for endeavoring to bring the treatment to an end.
It must not be forgotten that there are healthy people as well as unhealthy ones who are good for nothing in life, and that there is a temptation to ascribe to their illness everything that incapacitates them if they show any sign of neurosis. As Freud groped his way toward the complexities of ego psychology, he was obliged to modify this simple view of human fallibility—to see that illness and character were not, after all, discrete—but, significantly, he never changed his profoundly amoral view of psychoanalytic therapy. He does not remember having been intensely ashamed of certain sexual activities and afraid of their being found out; but he makes it clear that he is ashamed of the treatment on which he is now embarked, and tries to keep it secret from everybody.
He notes how much more dangerous analysis is now than it was in the old days of hypnosis. Repeating, as it is induced in analytic treatment according to the newer technique, on the other hand, implies conjuring up a piece of real life; and for that reason it cannot always be harmless and unobjectionable. During the period of the technical papers, Freud was guided in his thinking about repression and resistance by conceiving of the mind in terms of a spatial arrangement of the unconscious and conscious states. The fate of most of these impulses is to be immediately repelled by the guard or, should they slip by him and get into the drawing room, to be dragged back.
The latter are the repressed unconscious thoughts. Three or four strong men in the audience would then have to put the unruly fellow out and wedge their chairs against the door to prevent his return—as in psychic life unacceptable wishes are expelled from consciousness and a barrier of repression is mounted against them. However—Freud went on with the analogy—putting the unruly fellow out might only make matters worse: enraged by his expulsion, he might stand outside the door and shout and bang his fists against the panels and altogether make more trouble than he made when he was in the room.
Repression is always failure. In that case, Freud whimsically proposed, Dr. They had got the wrong man! The psychotic is someone whose ego has abdicated from this responsibility—as it does nightly in normal people in the psychosis known as dreaming. The analyst comes to the aid of the beleaguered ego and joins forces with it against its internal enemies. Invariably, the cause of the trouble, the start of the debility, is traced back to childhood—to a particular, fateful, universal experience called the Oedipus complex.
Character traits which critics of every epoch have brought up against women—that they show less sense of justice than men, that they are less ready to submit to the great exigencies of life, that they are more often influenced in their judgments by feelings of affection or hostility—all these would be amply accounted for by the modification in the formation of their superego which we have inferred above. The female Oedipus complex runs an opposite course from the male one.
Indeed, aversion to it is so great that people try to silence any mention of the proscribed subject, and the most obvious reminders of it are overlooked by a strange intellectual blindness. While belief in the Oedipus complex is universal among psychoanalysts, there is wide disagreement about whether it is indeed the central experience of childhood and the greatest problem of early life. There are schools of analytic thought that hold earlier experiences to be more crucial. The Kleinians, for example, put the action as far back as the first year of life.
It marks, in D. Conversely, to the Kleinians and the rest of the avant-garde the object-relations schools the events of the Oedipal period are pallid and inconsequential in comparison with the cliffhanging psychodramas of infancy. In his new capacity as the ally of the ego in its struggle against the id and the superego, the analyst paradoxically became an even more passive agent in the therapeutic relationship.
Passionate love for or hatred of the analyst is a repetition of early instinctual impulsions. More subtly unjustified feelings about the analyst are reversions to early defenses of the ego against threatening primitive id impulses. The analyst is, after all, a real person, with real qualities and peculiarities and emotions. Analysts have been as restive under and resistant to the rigors of the situation as patients have—particularly analysts of a certain benignity and expansiveness of temperament.
Freud himself seems never to have totally grasped or chose to overlook the dire implications of his great therapeutic instrument. He conducted therapy as no classical Freudian analyst would conduct it today—as if it were an ordinary human interaction, in which the analyst could shout at the patient, praise him, argue with him, accept flowers from him on his birthday, lend him money, and even gossip with him about other patients. A number of independent thinkers in matters of technique will say to themselves: Why stop at a kiss?
And then bolder ones will come along who will go further, to peeping and showing—and soon we shall have accepted in the technique of analysis the whole repertoire of demi-viergerie and petting parties, resulting in an enormous increase of interest in psychoanalysis among both analysts and patients. He does not give advice, he does not talk about himself, he does not let himself be provoked or drawn into discussions of abstract subjects, he does not answer questions about his family or his political preferences, he does not show like or dislike of the patient, or approval or disapproval of his actions.
His behavior toward the patient is as neutral, mild, colorless, self-effacing, uninterfering, and undemanding as he is able to make it, and as it is toward no one else in his life—with the paradoxical and now absolutely predictable result that the patient reacts with stronger, more vivid and intense personal feelings to this bland, shadowy figure than he does to the more clearly delineated and provocative figures in his life outside the analysis. If the patient sees the analyst as a cold, callous person of limited intelligence and unbounded tactlessness, he may decide to quit the analysis.
In fact, Freud originally felt that positive feelings toward the analyst at the start of treatment were a necessary precondition for it. Although this is no longer accepted numerous patients have stuck out analyses with analysts they detested , analysts continue to search themselves for what may have been their own contribution to the debacle of discontinued, aborted, or failed treatment. For to the complication of transference must be added that of countertransference; i. And to that complication must be added the treacherous and unresolved unresolvable? Freud never much interested himself in this question.
His discovery of the illusory relationship was, after all, the news, and the actual relationship between doctor and patient was not. When analysis changed from a symptom-curing therapy to a character-changing therapy, as the shift from id to ego psychology caused it to do, it naturally required more time.
A modus vivendi of some sort must be established between patient and analyst, tolerable to both, if this singular and unprecedented association is to last the course, to say nothing of whether it will benefit the patient. Within the transference, of course, the patient may and almost invariably does wallow in his sense of injury and deprivation, rejection and outrage. For all patients, to the degree that they are removed from the psychotic, have an important investment in their real and objective perceptions; and the interplay between these and the transference requires a certain minimal, if variable, resemblance.
This craving is universal and can be activated by doctors, politicians, clergymen, and teachers as well as by analysts. Stone draws an interesting and, for his argument, telling distinction between the meaning of the primary transference generated by the physician and that generated by the analyst. That Stone is almost completely unknown outside the profession is curious and unfortunate.
The leader of the opposition is Charles Brenner. His austere position has an icy beauty. Should he apologize, explain, and discuss the reasons for his action with his patient? Many analysts would say he should. Yet I believe the better course to follow is the usual one of encouraging a patient to express his thoughts and feelings about what has happened. A conscientious analyst will naturally regret such a mistake, he will certainly try, through self-analysis, to discover his unconscious reasons for having acted as he did, but he will be well advised to maintain an analytic attitude even to such an event, and not to assume what it must mean to his patient without hearing what his patient has to say.
It is presumptuous to act the analyst, unbidden, in a social or family situation. Several years ago, Brenner and Stone jointly led a seminar at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute in which just such nice points of technique were debated. Stone said that he, of course, would express sympathy. As an example, for his analyst to express sympathy for a patient who has just lost a close relative may make it more difficult than it would otherwise be for the patient to express pleasure or spite or exhibitionistic satisfaction over the loss.
This is taking respect for individual experience and generosity of spirit toward human frailty very far indeed. I have seldom in my life felt so triumphant. I knew that my life was going to be the way I wanted. The empty couch looked out on the room with a meaningful air. I sat across from him in a smaller easy chair, and between us, on a hassock, lay my small, attentive-looking Japanese tape recorder.
I had applied to other institutes, but this was the one I desperately hoped to get into—the oldest, largest, most renowned analytic institute in America, the institute of Hartmann, Kris, Loewenstein, Jacobson, Greenacre, Isakower, Bak, Arlow, and Brenner. The one thing that marred my happiness was the prospect of going into analysis again.
I felt I was already perfectly well analyzed. In a grim voice, Aaron went on to tell me of a traumatic event that had marked his arrival in New York from B—. I was frankly flattered by the assignment—feeling it to be connected to my own superior attributes—and arrived at the first session nervous but cocky.
You are like a gadfly! I had been weaving and dodging and interrupting and cutting into her questions with counterquestions. I was scared.
That the Institute would see me as a troublemaker. I had had trouble in medical school. I was a very abrasive person. At the end of the hour, I asked meekly when the analysis proper would begin. When would I start lying down on the couch? And it was then that she showed her true quality. Routledge eBooks are available through VitalSource.
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