Paul Mendes-Flohr

May 3, 2021

Paul Mendes-Flohr on Martin Buber's "I and Thou"

Great Books Series

New Books Network 2021

Today we talk a lot about a need for genuine dialogue, and for conversations across partisan divides and differences. What is a true, authentic, and meaningful conversation? Martin Buber's landmark 1923 book, I and Thou, examines and also proposes how genuine dialogue can happen. The short book proposes that "I and Thou," and "I and It" are inseparable word pairs rather than sets of 2 distinct terms, and that once we understand ourselves are already in relation with others, rather than atomistic subjects reaching out to others, it changes our lives. I spoke with Buber's biographer and expert, Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr, of the University of Chicago and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, to clarify Buber's points and the impact of this powerful, prophetic and poetic book which is not only a landmark of 20th-century intellectual history but also one of the most influential books of Western theology.

Uli Baer teaches literature and photography as University Professor at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim, Getty and Humboldt awards, in addition to hosting "Speaking of…” he hosts (with Caroline Weber) the podcast "The Proust Questionnaire” and is Editorial Director at Warbler Press. Email ucb1@nyu.edu; Twitter @UliBaer.

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Uli Baer

Uli Baer teaches literature and photography as University Professor at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim, Getty and Humboldt awards, in addition to hosting "Speaking of…” he hosts (with Caroline Weber) the podcast "The Proust Questionnaire” and is Editorial Director at Warbler Press. Email ucb1@nyu.edu; Twitter @UliBaer.

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