According to the concepts introduced by Martin Buber, I cannot be regarded as a separate, self-sufficient notion. Rather, it can exist either as a part of “I-It” and “I-Thou”. While considering the concept of “I-It”, specific attention should be paid to the perception of the self through It unless a person is not involved in relation with another thing or object. The existential philosopher makes an interesting explanation of I-It interaction while contemplating the tree.
We will write a custom Essay on Relational Logic in “I-It” and “I-You” Relations specifically for you
301 certified writers online
An individual can image tree; he/she can also sense its movement, as well as internal process within a tree. All these perceptions are confined to It until an individual is involved in relation with the tree. At this stage, the I concept is closely tied to Thou. Therefore, referring to “I-Thou” concept means endowing the three with symbolic and emotional meaning (Buber 2002). It implies associating different spiritual values with the tree, which is another spatial dimension perceived by an individual.
For Buber, “I-Thou” is compared to dialogue because an individual associates a set of particular values, feelings and senses with Thou or You. Buber refers to this duality as to the entity that cannot exist separately from each other. In contrast, Sartre also presents his own outlook on perceiving the self and identity, but in a different way. In particular, the French philosopher is more concerned with the dynamic of other as an ontological dimension of the individual’s self. Therefore, his conception of self is confined to apprehension and objectification.
Second distinction between Buber and Sartre’s concepts consists in directness of relations between the self and its dimensions. In particular, Buber insists on the idea of direction connection between I and Thou and, therefore, an a person sais I, he/she always implies Thou (Buber 1958). Sartre’s ideas are different: the concept of other is always in conflict with the self. It implies the possibility of placing the self in different conditions.
Thus, a person avoids embracing his/her subjectivity and identifies him/herself with ‘look’ for the other. Because of the rejection of the serf as an object, a conflict arises, which contradicts the theory of Buber who believes that I and Thou could not conflict because I reflects Thou and vice versa. More importantly, I can affect Thou and Thou can influence I.
Because the relational dialogue is often represented as a love dialogue according to Martin Buber, people often relate to other people not because they constitute objects, but because they are spoken (Buber 1966). In contrast to “I-It” concept according to which people are bound by being to others, “I-Thou” concept represents the spoken relationship between individuals (Buber 1966). This kind of response contradicts the conception of Sartre’s being for other because it excludes the possibility of being involved into considering others through the self.
In conclusion, the concepts represented by both philosophers are quite antagonistic because they reflect two opposite sides of debates on identity and self. In particular, Buber is more concerned with entity and wholeness of an individual whole responding to the world whereas Sartre focuses on alienation as the basic concept of considering the self and other dynamics. In addition, specific attention should also be paid to subjectivity and objectivity of addressing the issue of I, Thou and Self, which are closely related to relational dialogue.
Buber, M 2002, A Conversation’ in Meetings, Routledge, London.
Buber, M 1966, The Way of Response, Schocken Books, New York.
Buber, M 1958, I and Thou, Scribner’s’, New York.