Philosophy Martin Buber
by
Samuel Brody
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0351

Introduction

Although Martin Buber (b. 1878–d. 1965) ranks in the top tier of 20th-century Jewish thinkers, his relationship to philosophy has been contested. His philosophical concerns were tightly intertwined with interests in art, mythology, mysticism, sociology, biblical scholarship, Hasidism, Zionism, and Judaism. Buber was born in Vienna and raised in the Galician city of Lemberg (Lviv), where he was tutored in Jewish texts by his grandfather Solomon Buber (b. 1827–d. 1906), a pioneering scholar of rabbinic midrash. Buber pursued higher education in Vienna, Leipzig, Berlin, and Zurich, where he developed keen interests in Nietzsche, neo-Romantic aesthetics, and Zionist politics. He achieved early fame as an editor, translator, and interpreter of Hasidism to European audiences, as well as a spokesperson for the Jewish cultural renewal movement in Central Europe, and up to World War I he was active in the translation and dissemination of “mystical” texts of world traditions from Finland to China. However, a falling-out with a friend over the politics of the war led to a dramatic shift in his thinking, the first fruits of which became the “dialogical” philosophy for which he is best known. According to Buber, there is a sharp contrast between instrumental modes of relation (“I-It”) and non-instrumental encounter (“I-Thou”), with the latter containing resources for reimagining personal relationships as well as social life. In the 1920s and 1930s, he developed this philosophy while also promoting religious socialism, translating the Bible, teaching adult education, and seeking a potential binational solution to the Zionist-Arab conflict in Palestine. During the Third Reich he served as a leader of Jewish “spiritual resistance” to the regime, but in 1938 he was forced to flee Germany for Palestine. His ardent efforts to reconcile Zionist and Palestinian interests made him somewhat unpopular in the new State of Israel, but his international status was as high as ever throughout the 1950s and 1960s, when more of his work was translated and he began to be perceived as akin to the existentialists popular at the time. Buber encouraged this perception with writings on philosophical anthropology, placing himself in a tradition that included his former teacher Wilhelm Dilthey, as well as Kant, Kierkegaard, Husserl, and Heidegger. He was often charged with lacking philosophical rigor, and frustrated critics by refusing to alter his distinctive prose style in order to clarify his concepts. Nevertheless, his prominence and influence on later thinkers, including Emmanuel Levinas, ensured that he would remain compelling to scholars of Jewish studies, and recently philosophers have shown renewed interest in his thought. Buber has also maintained his reputation among liberal Christian philosophers and theologians, who continue to find in him a fruitful and challenging Jewish interlocutor.

Bibliographies

Since Buber’s death in 1965, several bibliographies of his work have combined complete listings of his own writings with the increasingly expansive secondary literature. He published primarily in German, although Buber and Cohn 1980 also lists his Hebrew works that appeared more commonly after his move to Palestine, as well as the primary translations of his work into English. Moonan 1981 provides annotated citations for English secondary literature up to 1978, and Heuer 1996 details secondary literature in German.

  • Buber, Raphael, and Margot Cohn, eds. Martin Buber: A Bibliography of His Writings, 1897–1978. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1980.

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    Margot Cohn was Buber’s secretary and director of the Martin Buber archive, and compiled this bibliography together with his son Raphael. It is nearly comprehensive and includes detailed subject and language indexes. This is the best place to gain an immediate overview of Buber’s incredible productivity.

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    • Heuer, Renate, ed. Lexikon deutsch-jüdischer Autoren: Archiv Bibliographica Judaica. Vol. 4. Munich: K. G. Saur, 1996.

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      The section on Buber in Heuer’s huge dictionary of German-Jewish writers provides a thorough listing of his German publications as well as helpfully annotated listings and descriptions of the German secondary literature. See especially pp. 251–303.

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      • Moonan, Willard. Martin Buber and His Critics: An Annotated Bibliography of Writings in English through 1978. New York: Garland, 1981.

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        A survey of writings by (377 entries) and about (667 entries) Buber in English, featuring detailed descriptions of secondary literature as well as author, title, and subject indexes.

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        General Surveys of Buber’s Thought

        Zank and Braiterman 2014 provides the most concise, up to date and philosophically oriented overview available. Older texts remain indispensable for tracking Buber’s reception, however, from its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, when Buber was perceived as a philosopher of religion and a religious existentialist by writers like Cohen 1957 and Diamond 1960. Buber’s biographer attempts a shorter introduction in Friedman 2002, while an effort at synthetic interpretation of Buber’s whole oeuvre can be found in Schaeder 1973.

        • Cohen, Arthur A. Martin Buber. New York: Hillary House, 1957.

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          The author is an American Jewish theologian who engages thoroughly but critically with Buber as a formative influence.

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          • Diamond, Malcolm L. Martin Buber: Jewish Existentialist. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960.

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            As the title indicates, the author interprets Buber’s thought as consonant with wider philosophical trends of the 1950s. This was a reigning interpretation for many years, until scholars renewed interest in other ways of looking at Buber’s writings on language, religion, and philosophical anthropology.

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            • Friedman, Maurice. Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue. London: Routledge, 2002.

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              Also a mid-1950s work at its original publication, Friedman (see also Friedman 1988 under Biographies) here presents an influential interpretation of Buber’s thought as unified around the concept of “dialogue.” Its general tone of reverence and discipleship limits its usefulness as a critical tool, but since Friedman was the primary translator and interpreter of Buber to English-speaking audiences for many years, it represents an important milestone in his reception.

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              • Schaeder, Grete. The Hebrew Humanism of Martin Buber. Translated by Noah J. Jacobs. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973.

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                The author attempts to use the concept of “Hebrew humanism” as a key to the interpretation of Buber’s whole career as a thinker, which is ably discussed along the way.

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                • Zank, Michael, and Zachary Braiterman. “Martin Buber.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2014.

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                  Excellent philosophically oriented overview of Buber’s life and thought, including specialized bibliography.

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                  Biographies

                  Kohn 1930 was a reflection on Buber’s first five decades by one of his disciples from the Prague “Bar Kochba” circle of young Zionists. Buber never officially approved another biography, but Friedman 1988 amassed an apparently comprehensive treasure trove of information and presented it in the form of a “dialography,” in accordance with his own understanding of Buber’s central philosophical contribution. The latter work must be consulted by anyone seeking to discuss Buber in historical context, but should be consulted with caution, as discussed in Schwarzschild 1985. The most recent attempt to replace Friedman is Bourel 2015.

                  • Bourel, Dominique. Martin Buber: Sentinelle de l’humanité. Paris: Albin Michel, 2015.

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                    A sprawling, comprehensive overview that includes the highlights found in Friedman 1988 but without extending to Friedman’s three volumes. Also benefits from three additional decades of scholarship.

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                    • Friedman, Maurice. Martin Buber’s Life and Work. Vol. 1, The Early Years, 1878–1923. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988.

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                      Indispensable and exhaustive, but also frustrating. The apparatus is quasi-academic, featuring citations of sources only as Friedman deems necessary. Followed by Vol. 2, The Middle Years, 1923–1945 and by Vol. 3, The Later Years, 1945–1965.

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                      • Kohn, Hans. Martin Buber, Sein Werk und seine Zeit: Ein Versuch über Religion und Politik. Hellerau, Germany: Jakob Hegner, 1930.

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                        An invaluable study; the subtitle (“An Essay on Religion and Politics”) indicates Buber’s own Central European milieu understood his relevance differently from the Anglophone literature of later decades. However, Buber pressured Kohn to soften certain episodes, such as his support for the Great War. The expanded second edition (Cologne: Melzer, 1961) carried the altered subtitle Ein Beitrag zu Geistesgeschichte Mitteleuropas 1880–1930, and includes an epilogue by Robert Weltsch discussing Buber’s public political activities from the 1930s onward.

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                        • Schwarzschild, Steven. “Buber and His Biographer.” Judaism 34.3 (1985): 433–443.

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                          An essential assessment of the achievements and drawbacks of Friedman 1988, characterizing it as simultaneously indispensable and in immediate need of replacement.

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                          Buber’s Collected Works in German

                          German was Buber’s primary language of composition and original publication, even though he switched to publishing in Hebrew and even English during and immediately after World War II. Buber 1962–1964 represents Buber’s own effort only a few years before his death to collect his major writings into a three-volume set. Buber 1953 and Buber 1965 collect essays left out of the Werke. Buber 1972–1975 is another three-volume set, presenting a selection of Buber’s voluminous correspondence over a span of nearly seven decades. Buber 2001– is the current critical edition of Buber’s works in German, slated now for twenty-one volumes. Finally, Buber and Rosenzweig 1992 is the translation of the Hebrew Bible that Buber undertook, first with Franz Rosenzweig (b. 1886–d. 1929) and later alone, while Buber and Rosenzweig 2007 brings together essays the two produced on their theories and approaches to exegesis and translation.

                          • Buber, Martin. Hinweise: Gesammelte Essays 1909–1953. Zurich: Manesse, 1953.

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                            Essays on a wide range of topics, including a foreword by Buber.

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                            • Buber, Martin. Werke. 3 vols. Munich: Kösel, 1962–1964.

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                              Buber chose to gather a large number of his writings into three volumes arranged thematically: Volume 1, Schriften zur Philosophie; Volume 2, Schriften zur Bibel; and Volume 3, Schriften zur Chassidismus. Although the series benefits from having been edited by Buber himself, it does not pretend to comprehensive status and leaves out many shorter essays (which can be found in other German collections such as Hinweise and Nachlese), although it includes many book-length works.

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                              • Buber, Martin. Nachlese. Heidelberg, Germany: Lambert Schneider, 1965.

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                                Buber selected these essays and other fragments left out of the Werke shortly before his death; the volume was published posthumously.

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                                • Buber, Martin. Briefwechsel aus sieben Jahrzenten. 3 vols. Edited by Grete Schaeder. Heidelberg, Germany: Lambert Schneider, 1972–1975.

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                                  Most of Buber’s correspondence remains in his archives in Jerusalem, but these three volumes present an important and indispensable selection of over fifteen hundred letters.

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                                  • Buber, Martin, and Franz Rosenzweig. Die Schrift. 4 vols. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1992.

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                                    Buber and Rosenzweig’s revolutionary and controversial translation of the Bible attracted a great deal of attention during the 1920s, although today it would probably be considered understudied compared to much of his other work. The two men aimed to achieve a German rendering that would preserve the strangeness and foreignness of the ancient Hebrew, rather than draw upon familiar tropes from the Luther or Mendelssohn translations.

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                                    • Buber, Martin. Martin Buber Werkausgabe. Edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr, Peter Schäfer, and Bernd Witte. Gütersloh, Germany: Gütersloher Verlaghaus, 2001–.

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                                      Editors Mendes-Flohr and Schäfer (from 2001 to 2010), and Witte (since 2010) have arranged Buber’s works into a far more comprehensive collection than the Werke, featuring indexes and critical apparatus not found elsewhere. The order is thematic rather than chronological.

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                                      • Buber, Martin, and Franz Rosenzweig. Die Schrift und ihre Verdeutschung. Gütersloh, Germany: Gütersloher Verlaghaus, 2007.

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                                        Here Buber and Rosenzweig discuss their approach to their Bible translation and to issues of translation in general. Features discussion of Buber’s famous Leitwort method, according to which the biblical text is imagined as originally intended to be spoken aloud, so that words that may not be etymologically or morphologically related are nonetheless connected in significance via their sound and resonance with each other.

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                                        Buber’s Philosophical Writings in English

                                        Only a limited portion of Buber’s vast corpus has typically been of interest to philosophers, namely that which deals with his philosophical anthropology (for engagements with Buber’s thought by philosophers and interpretations of his relations to other philosophers, see Buber and Other Thinkers). To the extent that Buber presents ideas about ontology, epistemology, ethics, and other branches of philosophical speculation, he usually does so in the context of meditations on the human being and the nature of intersubjectivity. Buber generally disliked disciplinary boundaries, subfields, and other heuristics for organizing thought, so the list given here should be understood as addressing those topics usually considered philosophical by others, primarily the “dialogical philosophy.” The foundational work is I and Thou translated in Buber 2000 and Buber 1996 (the two translations differ on key points). Horwitz 1988 provides lectures by Buber that show the central arguments of that work in the course of their development, and Buber 1988 and Buber 2002 contain essays that build upon that foundational work, elucidating controversial points and extending the thinking into new areas. Buber 1992 presents sociological approaches to the realm of the “interhuman” in a way that connects to philosophical concerns. Buber 2015 critically examines contemporaneous regnant philosophical approaches.

                                        • Buber, Martin. The Knowledge of Man: Selected Essays. Edited by Maurice Friedman. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 1988.

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                                          Essays from the 1950s and early 1960s that elaborate Buber’s philosophical anthropology, including a correspondence with the psychologist Carl Rogers. With an introduction by Alan Udoff.

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                                          • Buber, Martin. On Intersubjectivity and Cultural Creativity. Edited and introduced by Shmuel N. Eisenstadt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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                                            The editor was a student of Buber’s at the Hebrew University, who went on to become a prominent sociologist in his own right. Here he curates a set of Buber’s sociological writings with an eye toward their relationship to his philosophy.

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                                            • Buber, Martin. I and Thou. Translated with introduction by Walter Kaufmann. New York: Touchstone, 1996.

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                                              Despite the title, Kaufmann’s translation is built around a polemic against the use of the “archaic Thou” to render Buber’s use of the intimate second-person German Du. His long introduction provides extensive justification for the new translation.

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                                              • Buber, Martin. I and Thou. Translated by Ronald Gregor Smith. New York: Scribner, 2000.

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                                                The first translation of I and Thou into English, composed with Buber’s collaboration and approval.

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                                                • Buber, Martin. Between Man and Man. Translated by Ronald Gregor Smith. London: Routledge, 2002.

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                                                  Significant essays from the 1920s and 1930s in which Buber reflects on topics in education as well as on the philosophical inheritance of figures like Husserl, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and Scheler.

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                                                  • Buber, Martin. Eclipse of God: Studies in the Relation between Religion and Philosophy. Translated by Maurice Friedman, N. Guterman, and I. M. Lask. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.

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                                                    A collection of philosophical-theological essays on the philosophy of religion, in which Buber argues that modern philosophy (Sartre and Heidegger are singled out for analysis) is characterized by a radical subjectivist outlook with dire consequences for other spheres of life. With an introduction by Leora Batnitzky.

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                                                    • Horwitz, Rivka. Buber’s Way to I and Thou: The Development of Martin Buber’s Thought and His “Religion as Presence” Lectures. New York: The Jewish Publication Society, 1988.

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                                                      First published in 1978 in Germany, the 1988 version is easier to find. The book consists of lectures given by Buber in 1922 at the Frankfurt Lehrhaus, as he was composing I and Thou. It is based on a stenographer’s recording and includes Q & A.

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                                                      Buber’s Other Writings in English

                                                      Although it remains likely that philosophers will find themselves most interested in those of Buber’s writings that explicitly address philosophical concerns, this bibliography would be incomplete without at least a sample of selections from his other writings. As noted under Introduction, these writings span a wide range of interests and fields.

                                                      Early Writings on Hasidism and Mysticism

                                                      Buber’s early career is usually dated from the years just before the turn of the 20th century, when he began to write, to the middle of World War I. For scholars who see Ich und Du (1923) as Buber’s masterwork, this early period may be referred to as “pre-dialogical.” It is also frequently designated as Buber’s “mystical” phase since it tended to privilege the experience of unity over the illusion of individuation, seen as early as Flohr and Susser 1976. The dialogical phase then arrives with the recognition of the reality of intersubjectivity. Buber explored these topics through monographs like Buber 1964 and Buber 2012, as well as through edited collections of testaments to mystical experience in the world’s religious traditions, such as Buber 1996 and Buber 1991. He maintained a special interest in Jewish instantiations of such experience, which he found in the Hasidic movement, and presented in highly curated collections of Hasidic tales designed to appeal to contemporary European audiences (Buber 1988 and Buber 1995).

                                                      • Buber, Martin. Daniel: Dialogues on Realization. Translated by Maurice Friedman. New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1964.

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                                                        Despite the word “dialogue” in the title, this 1913 work is usually considered the paradigmatic expression of Buber’s early mystical worldview.

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                                                        • Buber, Martin. The Tales of Rabbi Nachman. Translated by Maurice Friedman. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 1988.

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                                                          Buber’s first early (Frankfurt am Main: Rütten und Loening, 1906) collection of Hasidic tales, centered on Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (b. 1772–d. 1810), a grandson of the Baal Shem Tov and founder of the Breslover sect which continues to attract followers today.

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                                                          • Buber, Martin. Chinese Tales: Zhuangzi, Sayings and Parables, and Chinese Ghost and Love Stories. Translated by Alex Page. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1991.

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                                                            An introduction by Irene Eber details how Buber collaborated with a Chinese scholar on these collections of spiritual wisdom. Buber’s interest in Taoism reoccurred throughout his career and has been commented upon by a number of scholars (see Eber 2008 and Herman 1996 under On Buber and Chinese Philosophy).

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                                                            • Buber, Martin. The Legend of the Baal Shem. Translated by Maurice Friedman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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                                                              Buber’s second early (Frankfurt am Main: Rütten und Loenig, 1908) volume of Hasidic tales, this time focused on the legendary Baal Shem Tov, the enigmatic founder of the Hasidic movement in the 18th century.

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                                                              • Buber, Martin. Ecstatic Confessions: The Heart of Mysticism. Edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr and translated by Esther Cameron. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

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                                                                Here Buber’s interest in inwardness manifests through a collection of reports from around the globe’s religious traditions, testifying to experiences of piercing the veil of separateness that blinds us to the true unity of phenomena.

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                                                                • Buber, Martin. “On the History of the Problem of Individuation: Nicholas of Cusa and Jakob Böhme.” Translated by Sarah Scott. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 33.2 (2012): 371–401.

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                                                                  Buber’s dissertation (not a habilitation, which he never received), written at the turn of the 20th century, reveals an early fascination with Renaissance mysticism and the question of how the mind creates the impression of individuation in a world that is really unified.

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                                                                  • Flohr, Paul, and Bernard Susser. “Alte und Neue Gemeinschaft: An Unpublished Buber Manuscript.” Association for Jewish Studies Review 1 (1976): 41–56.

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                                                                    A lecture Buber gave to the Neue Gemeinschaft, a short-lived mystical-intellectual community in Berlin at the turn of the 20th century. Inspired by Gustav Landauer’s own lecture to the group, “Through Separation to Community,” in which Landauer linked mystical insight with social revolution.

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                                                                    Anthologies and Correspondence in English

                                                                    Buber’s writing is often anthologized, due to the large number of short essays he published and the wide variety of ways of combining them; perhaps the paradigm is Buber 1997. Thus a number of the works cited here will also belong in other sections (e.g., under Writings on the Bible or Politics and Theopolitics). Maurice Friedman, Buber’s biographer and primary transmitter to the postwar American audience, rarely wrote explicitly about his principles of selection for the many volumes of Buber’s writings he edited or anthologized, but at least two of them are translations of German anthologies (Buber 1967 and Buber 1990). Buber’s student Nahum Glatzer also edited two important volumes of Buber’s essays (Buber 1995 and Buber 2000). Fortunately, contemporary scholars continue to produce such volumes, drawing on archival and other sources to offer new representations and interpretations in addition to those which had been available for decades (e.g., Buber 1999, Buber 2002, Buber 2005). The English translation of selections from Buber’s Briefwechsel (Buber 1996) is unlikely to be supplanted by another edition.

                                                                    • Buber, Martin. A Believing Humanism: My Testament, 1902–1965. Translated by Maurice Friedman. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967.

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                                                                      A translation of the German Nachlese, which contained essays that Buber left out of his Werke, covering a number of religious and philosophical topics.

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                                                                      • Buber, Martin. Pointing the Way: Collected Essays. Edited and translated by Maurice Friedman and Ronald Gregor Smith. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1990.

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                                                                        Drawn primarily from Hinweise, this anthology includes sections on politics, education, psychology, and theater.

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                                                                        • Buber, Martin. On Judaism. Edited by Nahum N. Glatzer. New York: Schocken, 1995.

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                                                                          A translation of Buber’s influential Drei Reden (Three Lectures) given in Prague between 1909 and 1911, plus a second set of lectures and additional essays from later in Buber’s career.

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                                                                          • Buber, Martin. The Letters of Martin Buber: A Life of Dialogue. Edited by Nahum N. Glatzer and Paul Mendes-Flohr and translated by Richard Winston, Clara Winston, and Harry Zohn. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

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                                                                            Includes a number of letters that are not found in Buber’s German Briefwechsel, but otherwise its 753 letters are largely drawn from those three volumes. Also includes scholarly notes on the letters.

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                                                                            • Buber, Martin. Israel and the World: Essays in a Time of Crisis. Translated by Carlyle Witton-Davies, et al. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997.

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                                                                              A true anthology, spanning topics from education to Judaism and Zionism. The central focus is the relationship of the sources of Judaism to the “crisis of humanity” of the mid-20th century.

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                                                                              • Buber, Martin. The First Buber: Youthful Zionist Writings of Martin Buber. Edited and translated by Gilya Gerda Schmidt. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                Buber’s Zionist involvement and his commitment to Jewish “renewal” via cultural Zionism preceded his deployment of Hasidism for the same purpose. This book collects forty-two essays, poems, and occasional writings representative of Buber’s fin-de-siècle Zionist outlook.

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                                                                                • Buber, Martin. On the Bible: Eighteen Studies. Edited by Nahum N. Glatzer. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                  Collects a variety of shorter essays on topics in biblical texts. The selection can seem eclectic, but Buber’s approach to the Bible is highly integrated with his philosophical and political interests. With an introduction by Harold Bloom.

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                                                                                  • Buber, Martin. The Martin Buber Reader: Essential Writings. Edited by Asher D. Biemann. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

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                                                                                    The editor has assembled texts spanning the range of Buber’s productivity, combined with a biographical introduction and notes, to serve for any reader as an introduction to Buber.

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                                                                                    • Buber, Martin. A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs. Edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

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                                                                                      A collection of Buber’s occasional essays on the conflict between the Zionist movement and the Palestinian Arabs, from 1917 to 1965, in which Buber consistently articulates his vision of peaceful coexistence in response to dramatically changing circumstances.

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                                                                                      Writings on the Bible

                                                                                      Buber’s writings on the Bible constitute a huge percentage of his total output and represent a coherent effort to interpret the Bible’s core message for the contemporary world. Sometimes he undertook these efforts as a scholar, adhering to the conventions of academic biblical scholarship; at other times, he simply argued as a Jewish biblical commentator. Buber 2000 collects short essays on the Bible that move back and forth between these styles, including excerpts from longer works. Buber and Rosenzweig 1994 contains theoretical essays on problems inherent in biblical translation. Buber 1990, originally published in 1932, is Buber’s major statement on ancient Israelite theopolitics and faith, mediated through scholarly discussions of biblical composition and editing. Originally intended to form the first entry in a trilogy that would explore the origins and fate of the concept of messianism, the other entries never appeared. Material and themes from them, however, can be found in Buber 1998, Buber 2015, and Buber 2003. Buber 1997 contains meditations occasioned by the rise of the Third Reich. The secondary literature on Buber’s Bible writings is vast and largely beyond the scope of this bibliography; however, the excellent Sufrin 2013 may stand in here for recent work in the field.

                                                                                      • Buber, Martin. Kingship of God. 3d ed. Translated by Richard Scheimann. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1990.

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                                                                                        Written in hopes of securing a position in Bible at the Hebrew University, this is by far Buber’s most heavily annotated, scholarly work. Its goal is to present the idea of “direct theocracy,” or direct rule by the deity without a human intermediary, as originating in the historical period of pre-monarchical ancient Israel.

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                                                                                        • Buber, Martin. Good and Evil: Two Interpretations. Translated by R. G. Smith and M. Bullock. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997.

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                                                                                          The book consists of two essays on the problem of good and evil, seeking to account for evil’s origins and its power. The first essay considers a number of biblical Psalms, while the second engages scholarship on ancient mythology.

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                                                                                          • Buber, Martin. Moses: The Revelation and the Covenant. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 1998.

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                                                                                            Here Buber develops the theopolitical outlook of Kingship of God through a focus on the protagonist of the Torah, Moses ben Amram, whom he presents as a visionary seeking to combine the stability and order of Egypt with the freedom and community of the Midianites. Originally published in Hebrew in 1945 (Jerusalem: Schocken). With an introduction by Michael Fishbane.

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                                                                                            • Buber, Martin. On the Bible: Eighteen Studies. Edited by Nahum N. Glatzer. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                              Contains a number of short essays on biblical topics. Highlights include “Abraham the Seer” and “Biblical Leadership.” Best read in conjunction with Buber’s book-length works, rather than alone, for a greater appreciation of the approach to the Bible that informs these pieces. With an introduction by Harold Bloom.

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                                                                                              • Buber, Martin. Two Types of Faith. Translated by Norman P. Goldhawk. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                Buber’s only extensive and detailed consideration of New Testament material is best known for its controversial attempt to distinguish between the meaning of the terms for “faith” in Hebrew (emunah) and in Greek (pistis), arguing that the former connotes trust while the latter refers to cognitive assent to propositions. The Afterword by David Flusser addresses the scholarly fate of this thesis.

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                                                                                                • Buber, Martin. The Prophetic Faith. Translated by Carlyle Witton-Davies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                                  A sequel of sorts to Kingship of God, in which Buber examines the fate of the idea of God’s kingship in an era of rule by a human monarch. The protagonists are the prophets, who challenged the kings in the name of social justice and divine sovereignty. The new Princeton edition features an introduction by Jon D. Levenson. Originally published in Hebrew in 1944.

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                                                                                                  • Buber, Martin, and Franz Rosenzweig. Scripture and Translation. Edited and translated by Lawrence Rosenwald with Everett Fox. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                    A translation of Die Schrift und ihre Verdeutschung, Buber and Rosenzweig’s collection of essays on their approaches to scriptural exegesis and translation. Also includes a translation of a Hebrew lecture that Buber gave on the origins and rationale for the project of the Bible translation they undertook together.

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                                                                                                    • Sufrin, Claire. “History, Myth, and Divine Dialogue in Martin Buber’s Biblical Commentaries.” Jewish Quarterly Review 103.1 (Winter 2013): 74–100.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/jqr.2013.0000Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                      The author reconsiders Buber’s biblical writings from the standpoint of his hermeneutics, concept of myth, and philosophy of dialogue.

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                                                                                                      Later Writings on Hasidism

                                                                                                      Buber’s later writings on Hasidism move back and forth between analysis of Hasidism as a historical phenomenon (an 18th-century Jewish revival movement in Eastern Europe), examination through the lens of comparative religion, and considering Hasidism as a living existential option for contemporary humanity. Buber 1988 highlights the former approach, while Buber 2013 and Buber 2015 lay special emphasis on the latter aspect. Buber 1991 contains the results of decades of work distilling traditional Hasidic stories into a form relatable to modern audiences.

                                                                                                      • Buber, Martin. The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism. Translated by Maurice Friedman. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                        Presented as a study in comparative religion, wherein Buber contrasts Hasidism with other traditions from around the world (Zen Buddhism, Gnosticism, medieval Christian mysticism) as well as with thinkers like Spinoza and Freud.

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                                                                                                        • Buber, Martin. Tales of the Hasidim: The Early and Later Masters. Translated by Olga Marx with a Foreword by Chaim Potok. New York: Schocken, 1991.

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                                                                                                          After the success of his early volumes on Hasidism, Buber continued collecting Hasidic tales. He grouped them according to his own perception of the early and late stages of the development of the movement; this volume combines the two originally separately released volumes into one.

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                                                                                                          • Buber, Martin. The Way of Man: According to Hasidic Teaching. Translated by Bernard Mehlman and Gabriel Padawer with a Foreword by Paul Mendes-Flohr. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2013.

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                                                                                                            Republished many times, The Way of Man (also included within Buber 2015 in a translation by Maurice Friedman) is a compact lecture series originally delivered to an audience of Dutch religious socialists. It may be fairly characterized as a work of constructive spiritual guidance rather than of academic historiography, which helps account for its longevity and popularity. The 2013 version from Jewish Lights is only available as an e-book.

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                                                                                                            • Buber, Martin. Hasidism and Modern Man. Translated by Maurice Friedman with introduction by David Biale. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1515/9781400874095Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                              Originally published in 1958 (New York: Horizon), this book presents essays intended to reflect the trajectory of Buber’s relationship to Hasidism over the course of several decades, partially through autobiography and partially through thematic considerations of different elements of Hasidic thought in relationship to modern civilization.

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                                                                                                              Politics and Theopolitics

                                                                                                              Buber was not considered a political theorist, and he never wrote a systematic political theory. Nonetheless, he engaged politics throughout his life in many forms and formats, not always in genres one would expect. Buber 1996 is his most manifestly political work, dealing with the contrast between utopian socialism and its “scientific,” Marxist variety. Buber 1988 contains a large section bringing together a number of his most significant political essays, while Buber 2005 collects his editorials, plans, and programs addressing the Zionist–Arab conflict in Palestine (both texts are also found under Anthologies and Correspondence in English). Buber 1990 (also found under Writings on the Bible) is written in a scholarly tone but could be said to contain Buber’s most profound reflection on Judaic theopolitics. Buber 1997 reflects on the concept of “Zion” as a theopolitical concept, tracing it from biblical origins through rabbinic and medieval Jewish literature and up to the contemporary Zionist movement. Buber, et al. 1946 and Buber, et al. 1972 are collections of explicitly binationalist essays, by Buber and others, from just before the creation of the State of Israel. They are long out of print and can be difficult to locate.

                                                                                                              • Buber, Martin. Pointing the Way: Collected Essays. Edited and translated by Maurice Friedman and Ronald Gregor Smith. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                The political essays collected here are primarily interested in the relationship between politics and ethics, and between politics and religion. Highlights include “Three Theses of a Religious Socialism,” “Gandhi, Politics, and Us,” “Prophecy, Apocalyptic, and the Historical Hour,” and “The Validity and Limitations of the Political Principle.”

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                                                                                                                • Buber, Martin. Kingship of God. 3d ed. Translated by Richard Scheimann. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                  The concept of “direct theocracy” presented here (direct rule of the divine without any human intermediary) has affinities with the anarchic and democratic forms of socialism that Buber supported in his more contemporary political writings. Originally published in German in 1932.

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                                                                                                                  • Buber, Martin. Paths in Utopia. Translated by R. F. C. Hull. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                    In this work, Buber places his old friend and martyred comrade Gustav Landauer (b. 1870–d. 1918) at the culmination of a development of “utopian socialist” or anarchist theories of community, in contrast to what Buber viewed as its overly apocalyptic Marxist cousin. The conclusion considers the Zionist kibbutz or collective settlement from the perspective thus outlined.

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                                                                                                                    • Buber, Martin. On Zion: The History of an Idea. Translated by Stanley Godman. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                      In this book Buber analyzes the concept of “Zion,” which he identifies with a theopolitical community committed to the realization of divine justice in all aspects of life. Originally given as lectures and published in Hebrew in 1944.

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                                                                                                                      • Buber, Martin. A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs. 2d ed. Edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                        Buber was notorious for his advocacy of a “binationalist” solution to the conflict between Zionists and Palestinian Arabs. This book collects essays and op eds on the conflict from 1917 to the end of his life, showing that binationalism was deeply rooted not just in his philosophy but in his conception of Zionism and of Judaism itself.

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                                                                                                                        • Buber, Martin, Judah Magnes, and Ernst Simon, eds. Towards Union in Palestine: Essays on Zionism and Jewish-Arab Cooperation. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1972.

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                                                                                                                          A collection of binationalist essays on the necessity for Jews and Arabs in Palestine to come to not just a modus vivendi but a deep and lasting partnership in living and working on the land.

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                                                                                                                          • Buber, Martin, J. L. Magnes, and M. Smilansky. Palestine, a Bi-National State. New York: Ihud, 1946.

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                                                                                                                            Published by the Ihud Association, a successor organization to the Brit Shalom, these essays represent arguments made by Ihud representatives to the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on the future of Palestine in the year between World War II and the UN vote to partition the region.

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                                                                                                                            Buber’s Editorial Work

                                                                                                                            In addition to being a prolific writer, Buber was a talented editor whose many projects always attracted interested collaborators. The most prominent were his newspaper Der Jude (The Jew), described in detail in Lappin 2000 and from which a selection of material is offered in Cohen 1980; the interdemoninational journal Die Kreatur, discussed in Zimmermann 2003; and Die Gesellschaft, a forty-volume series showcasing the then new scholarly discipline of sociology, enumerated and analyzed in Mendes-Flohr 1989.

                                                                                                                            • Cohen, Arthur A. The Jew: Essays from Martin Buber’s Journal “Der Jude,” 1916–1928. Translated by Joachim Neugroschel. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1980.

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                                                                                                                              Originally proposed at the turn of the century as a cultural-Zionist project to promote Jewish revival, the provocatively titled journal Der Jude finally launched in the midst of World War I. It attracted top intellectual figures in German-Jewish life for the duration of its run.

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                                                                                                                              • Lappin, Eleonore. Der Jude, 1916–1928: Jüdische Moderne zwischen Universalismus und Partikularismus. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                A sweeping analysis of Der Jude’s entire run, focusing on the content as well as on Buber’s editorial style.

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                                                                                                                                • Mendes-Flohr, Paul. “Buber’s Gesellschaft: Sociology as Jugendstil.” In From Mysticism to Dialogue: Martin Buber’s Transformation of German Social Thought. By Paul Mendes-Flohr, 83–92, 166–168. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                  Within Mendes-Flohr’s major work on Buber is a complete listing of the forty volumes of Buber’s Der Gesellschaft, accompanied by remarks on the planning and content of the series, which devoted each of its volumes to a different element of modern urban life (e.g., “Sports,” “The Department Store,” et al.). Writers in the series included Werner Sombart, Eduard Bernstein, and Gustav Landauer, among others.

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                                                                                                                                  • Zimmermann, Hans Dieter, ed. Die Kreatur: Anthologie einer ökumenischen Zeitschrift. Dreieck, Germany: Guardini Stiftung, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                    Die Kreatur was a quarterly that Buber co-edited with Josef Wittig (a Catholic) and Viktor von Weizsäcker (a Protestant) from 1926–1929. Although a consciously interdenominational journal, it was not dedicated per se to “interfaith dialogue,” preferring to focus on issues basic to the human being (“the creature”).

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                                                                                                                                    Secondary Scholarship on Buber

                                                                                                                                    For many years it was difficult to find scholarship on Buber that did not relate to him either as a prophetic leader or as a misguided false prophet. The tendency to idolize or demonize may have taken longer than usual to die down, thanks to the continued prominence of ambivalent heirs of Buber in various fields (Eisenstadt in sociology, Scholem in Jewish Studies, and perhaps even Levinas in philosophy). However, there was always a core of excellent secondary literature on Buber, which has only expanded since the 1990s and 2000s. The starting point for all students, whatever their particular interests, remains Mendes-Flohr 1989. His interpretation of Buber’s career has been challenged by Koren 2010, but remains the scholarly consensus.

                                                                                                                                    • Koren, Israel. The Mystery of the Earth: Mysticism and Hasidism in the thought of Martin Buber. Boston: Brill, 2010.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004181236.i-398Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Offers an integrated, coherent reading of Buber’s intellectual trajectory to challenge the thesis that Buber’s thought underwent a drastic transformation in its shift from mysticism to a recognition of the dialogical Other. For Koren, Buber remains a Jewish mystic.

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                                                                                                                                      • Mendes-Flohr, Paul. From Mysticism to Dialogue: Martin Buber’s Transformation of German Social Thought. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                        Mendes-Flohr’s groundbreaking work puts forward a thick intellectual-historiographic background for the volte face interpretation of Buber’s career advocated by Buber himself and echoed by Friedman and others. Especially valuable on locating the early Buber within the larger framework of German sociology of the Wilhelmine era.

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                                                                                                                                        On Buber’s Philosophy

                                                                                                                                        A significant proportion of the attention to Buber outside of Jewish Studies continues to come from philosophy, although Buber’s work has been characterized as “largely ignored by academic philosophers” (Zank and Braiterman 2014, under General Surveys of Buber’s Thought). This attention frequently, though not always, assumes that “as” a philosopher, Buber had views on the traditional range of philosophical subjects, even if these were not always explicitly articulated. Buber and Friedman themselves set the tone for this in Friedman 1964. Wood 1969 reads Buber’s ontology, and Katz 1981 his epistemology. Putnam 2008 takes a different route, arguing for Buber as describing a mode of life, and Kavka 2012 is an in-depth analysis of Buber’s implicit understanding of truth.

                                                                                                                                        • Friedman, Maurice. “Interrogation of Martin Buber.” In Philosophical Interrogations. Edited by Sydney Rome and Beatrice Rome, 13–147. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964.

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                                                                                                                                          The book features interviews with living philosophers, including Buber, by experts in their philosophies. Buber responds to questions posed directly to him on topics in his philosophy of dialogue, epistemology, education, Judaism, and the Bible.

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                                                                                                                                          • Katz, Steven T. “Martin Buber’s Epistemology: A Critical Appraisal.” International Philosophical Quarterly 21.2 (1981): 133–158.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.5840/ipq198121210Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Takes Buber to be a philosopher whose epistemology is central to his work, while offering a critique of that epistemology as overly Kantian despite protestations to the contrary.

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                                                                                                                                            • Kavka, Martin. “Verification (Bewährung) in Martin Buber.” Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 20.1 (2012): 71–98.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1163/147728512X629826Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                              A pragmatic approach to Buber’s philosophy that also reads a pragmatism in Buber. Kavka seeks to deflate metaphysical readings of I and Thou with a novel focus on what exactly Buber means by one of his favorite terms, “verify” (or “put to the proof”).

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                                                                                                                                              • Putnam, Hilary. “What I and Thou is Really Saying.” In Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life: Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein. By Hilary Putnam, 55–67. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                A prominent contemporary philosopher writes short essays on modern Jewish thinkers, including Buber, whom he considers widely misunderstood.

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                                                                                                                                                • Wood, Robert E. Martin Buber’s Ontology: An Analysis of I and Thou. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                  A study that treats Buber’s dialogical philosophy as an ontology, rather than a “philosophical anthropology” in the terms he used later in his career.

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                                                                                                                                                  Buber and Other Thinkers

                                                                                                                                                  Buber’s philosophy of dialogue was subjected to much critical scrutiny in his lifetime. Schilpp and Friedman 1967 represents encounters between Buber and other philosophers late in his life, in which we can read his detailed responses to particular critiques. Later on, Buber was more frequently placed in relation to the social ontologies of Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre (as in Theunissen 1984, Novak 1985, Siegfried 2010, and Feller 2013), or to the canon of hermeneutical theory (as in Kepnes 1992). Later on, Levinas (who had authored an essay in Schilpp and Friedman 1967) appeared to be a logical interlocutor, inspiring comparisons like Atterton, et al. 2004. DeLue 2006 is perhaps the most recent effort to compare Buber and Kant. An innovative turn was made in Scott 2015, examining Buber’s early engagement with Nicholas of Cusa.

                                                                                                                                                  • Atterton, Peter, Matthew Calarco, and Maurice Friedman. Levinas and Buber: Dialogue and Difference. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                    Fifteen essays comparing and contrasting Levinas and Buber on questions of dialogue, ethics, religion, and their relationship to Heidegger and to humanism.

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                                                                                                                                                    • DeLue, Steven M. “Martin Buber and Immanuel Kant on Mutual Respect and the Liberal State.” Janus Head 9.1 (2006): 117–133.

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                                                                                                                                                      Presents Buber and Kant as holding complementary views on the requirements for mutual toleration and respect in civil society, despite appearances to the contrary.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Feller, Yaniv. “From Aher to Marcion: Martin Buber’s Understanding of Gnosis.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 20.4 (2013): 374–397.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1628/094457013X13814862384397Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Reads Buber as centrally engaged with the ancient heretical movement of Gnosticism, as mediated through the Weimar German understanding of the theological import of that movement, with implications for Buber’s understanding of Heidegger and others (insofar as Buber understands them to be Gnostics).

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                                                                                                                                                        • Kepnes, Steven. The Text as Thou: Martin Buber’s Dialogical Hermeneutics and Narrative Theology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                          Kepnes reads Buber’s approach to biblical exegesis in the context of earlier (Dilthey) and later (Bakhtin, Gadamer, Ricoeur) hermeneutic theory.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Novak, David. “Buber’s Critique of Heidegger.” Modern Judaism 5.2 (1985): 125–140.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/mj/5.2.125Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            A sympathetic analysis of Buber’s critique of Heidegger, in contrast to the many treatments that assume that Buber failed to understand him.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Schilpp, Paul Arthur, and Maurice Friedman, eds. The Philosophy of Martin Buber. LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1967.

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                                                                                                                                                              Thirty scholars offer analyses and criticisms of Buber’s work in this entry in the Library of Living Philosophers Series, followed by Buber’s own “Replies to My Critics.”

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                                                                                                                                                              • Scott, Sarah. “Knowing Otherness: Martin Buber’s Appropriation of Nicholas of Cusa.” International Philosophical Quarterly 55.4 (2015): 399–416.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.5840/ipq2015101248Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Scott, who also translated Buber’s dissertation, here provides an analysis of this sorely understudied text from Buber’s early career.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Siegfried, Meike. Abkehr vom Subjekt: Zum Sprachdenken bei Heidegger and Buber. Freiburg, Germany: Karl Alber, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Compares and contrasts Buber and Heidegger’s social ontologies via their philosophies of language.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Theunissen, Michael. The Other: Studies in the Social Ontology of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Buber. Translated by Christopher Macann. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                    An interesting and in-depth comparison of Buber’s approach to intersubjectivity in the context of a broad shift toward consideration of The Other in modern continental thought.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Conference Volumes/Edited Academic Collections

                                                                                                                                                                    After Buber’s death, academic symposia were dedicated to his work on anniversary birthdays and yahrzeits (death anniversaries), the results of which can be found in Gordon and Bloch 1984, Licharz and Schmidt 1989, and Mendes-Flohr 2002. Renewed interest in the 2000s yielded the collection of essays found in Zank 2006.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Gordon, Haim, and Jochanan Bloch. Martin Buber: A Centenary Volume. Papers Read at the Buber Centenary Conference held at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in January 1978. New York: Ktav, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A conference commemorating the centenary of Buber’s birth took place in 1978 at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, bringing together scholars from around the world to assess Buber’s legacy a decade after his death. The essays cover a wide range of topics but include strong representation from those who see him as a philosopher and who compare him to other philosophers.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Licharz, Werner, and Heinz Schmidt, eds. Martin Buber (1878–1965). Internationales Symposium zum 20. Todestag. Proceedings of the Symposium Sponsored by the Evangelische Akademie Arnoldshain, the Fachbereich Religionswissenschaften of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, and the Martin-Buber-Haus. 2 vols. Arnoldshain, Germany: Haag and Herchen, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A huge collection of lectures and papers from an international conference held to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Buber’s death.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Mendes-Flohr, Paul, ed. Martin Buber: A Contemporary Perspective. Proceedings of an International Conference Held at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                          An edited volume containing proceedings of an international conference hosted by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (of which Buber was the first president). Highlights include Gillian Rose, “Reply from the ‘Single One’”: Søren Kierkegaard to Martin Buber,” in which Rose accuses Buber of failing to understand Kierkegaard, power, and violence.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Zank, Michael, ed. New Perspectives on Martin Buber. Actes d'un congrès tenu les 6 et 7 juillet 2003 à Francfort-sur-le-Main, Allemagne. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                            As promised, the volume’s sixteen essays deliver refreshing analyses of Buber’s place in philosophy, biblical studies, the academic study of religion, and politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                            On Buber and Aesthetics

                                                                                                                                                                            In the past decades, growing attention has been paid to the importance of aesthetics for Buber as well as to the aesthetic dimension of Buber’s philosophy. Braiterman 2007 presents an innovative interpretation of Buber’s theology as aesthetic, while Biemann 2009 focuses broadly on the trope of “renaissance” and renewal, which echoed throughout Buber’s work. Urban 2008 places Buber’s early Hasidic writings into a thick intellectual-historical context that includes other modern Jewish representations of Hasidism as well as the wider aesthetic mood of neo-Romanticism.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Biemann, Asher D. Inventing New Beginnings: On the Idea of Renaissance in Modern Judaism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                              The author zeroes in on the key term “renaissance” and its many resonances, showing how it was used in German-Jewish thought to aestheticize time itself in the service of a particular kind of self-fashioning. A broad intellectual history that nonetheless deals with Buber in depth in many passages.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Braiterman, Zachary. The Shape of Revelation: Aesthetics and Modern Jewish Thought. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                An original reading of Buber and Rosenzweig’s concepts of revelation in the context of early-20th-century German aesthetic theory.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Urban, Martina. Aesthetics of Renewal: Martin Buber’s Early Representation of Hasidism as Kulturkritik. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226842738.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores the way Buber’s representations of Hasidic thought served to revive and renew that thought for Buber’s contemporary cultural Zionist projects.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  On Buber and Chinese Philosophy

                                                                                                                                                                                  Buber’s writings on Judaism and existentialism often focused on the concept of the “path” or “way,” and so it is perhaps unsurprising that he was also interested in the way this concept played out in ancient Chinese philosophy. Eber 2008 and Herman 1996 each focus on different aspects of Buber’s engagement with the Dao and with the concept of “not-doing.”

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Eber, Irene. “Martin Buber and Daoism.” In Chinese and Jews: Encounters Between Cultures. Portland, OR: Vallentine Mitchell, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    An Israeli Sinologist examines Buber’s relationship to Taoism. Originally published in 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Herman, Jonathan R. I and Tao: Martin Buber’s Encounter with Chuang Tzu. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      An analysis specifically focusing on Buber’s Reden und Gleichnisse des Tschuang-Tse, with attention to both historical-critical questions of textual reconstruction and to hermeneutics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      On Buber and Political Thought

                                                                                                                                                                                      Silberstein 1990 represents a long-standing trend to describe Buber as a “social” rather than political thinker, even when a scholar sees, as does Silberstein, Buber’s social criticism as the culmination of all his work (Susser 1981 was an important exception to that rule). Schwarzschild 1990 complains about the relative dearth of secondary literature on Buber’s political philosophy. But this has begun to be corrected in recent years, perhaps kicking off with the inclusion of the idiosyncratic explorations of Avnon 1998 as part of a series on political thinkers. Ratzabi 2002 deals with Buber as spiritual inspiration for the Brit Shalom binationalist movement in Palestine. Lebovic 2008 and Mendes-Flohr 2008 initiate a new focus on Buber and the problematic of “political theology” centered on the conservative German jurist Carl Schmitt, which is taken up in turn by Kaplan 2013, Brody 2015, and Schmidt 2016.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Avnon, Dan. Martin Buber: The Hidden Dialogue. 20th Century Political Thinkers. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        The author focuses on Buber’s later writings (1938–1965) in an effort to elucidate the existential orientation of Buber’s biblical exegesis. Ultimately sides with critics who fault Buber for utopianism and lack of realistic strategy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Brody, Samuel Hayim. “Is Theopolitics an Antipolitics? Martin Buber, Anarchism, and the Idea of the Political.” In Dialogue as a Trans-Disciplinary Concept. Edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr, 61–88. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Takes up the question of whether Buber’s anarchistic (“utopian”) leanings and tendency to situate politics within theology and ethics remove him from politics completely, as many have charged. Reads Buber’s theopolitics out of his biblical writings, in conversation with Schmitt and Max Weber.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Kaplan, Gregory. “Power and Israel in Martin Buber’s Critique of Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology.” In Judaism, Liberalism, and Political Theology. Edited by Randi Rashkover and Martin Kavka, 155–177. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            A consideration of the relationship of spirit and power in Buber, mediated through his encounter with Schmitt.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lebovic, Nitzan. “The Jerusalem School: The Theopolitical Hour.” New German Critique 35.3 (Fall 2008): 97–120.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1215/0094033X-2008-015Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              An innovative examination of Buber’s thinking on “the theopolitical hour” (a section of his Prophetic Faith, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016) in the context of his colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and their collective preoccupation with Schmitt.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Mendes-Flohr, Paul. “The Kingdom of God. Martin Buber’s Critique of Messianic Politics.” Behemoth 1.2 (2008): 26–38.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1524/behe.2008.0013Save Citation »Export Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                A reading of Buber’s Kingship of God as a political text, focused on rejecting messianism insofar as that category is deployed politically in the service of authoritarianism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ratzabi, Shalom. Between Zionism and Judaism: The Radical Circle in Brith Shalom, 1925–1933. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  A layered, thorough intellectual-historical account of the disciples of Buber who formed the radical core of the Brit Shalom movement—figures like Hans Kohn, Ernst Simon, and Robert Weltsch. Moves smoothly from the Central European emergence of the ideas to their troubled application in the Palestinian context.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Schmidt, Christoph. “Martin Buber (1878–1965): The Theopolitical Hour.” In Makers of Jewish Modernity: Thinkers, Artists, Leaders, and the World They Made. Edited by Jacques Picard, Jacques Revel, Michael P Steinberg, and Idith Zertal, 187–203. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that Buber consciously embraced the term “theopolitics” as an anarchistic inversion of Schmitt’s “political theology.” Focuses on the 1936 essay “The Question to the Single One,” found in Between Man and Man (under Buber’s Philosophical Writings in English). Originally published in German in 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Schwarzschild, Steven. “A Critique of Martin Buber’s Political Philosophy: An Affectionate Reappraisal.” In The Pursuit of the Ideal: Jewish Writings of Steven Schwarzschild. Edited by Menachem Kellner, 185–207. Albany: SUNY Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Schwarzschild faults Buber for his romanticism and his negative attitudes toward rationalism and law, while at the same time admiring his iconoclastic stances vis-à-vis Jewish nationalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Silberstein, Laurence J. Martin Buber’s Social and Religious Thought: Alienation and the Quest for Meaning. New York: New York University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        A central focus on “alienation” marks this study, which is really a broad survey of Buber’s philosophy that just happens to place social critique in a more prominent place than most others.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Susser, Bernard. Existence and Utopia: The Social and Political Thought of Martin Buber. London: Associated University Presses, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Reads Buber’s political thought as caught in a dialectic between the harsh reality of existence and the unlimited imaginative capacities of the utopian ideal.

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