Buber's perception of Judaism. Its character and development.

Phillipson, G. B. (1990). Buber's perception of Judaism. Its character and development. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fc53


The thesis enquires into Buber's concept of Judaism and his self- understanding as a Jew. Scholars in the field have been concerned with many aspects of Buber's dialogical philosophy but except for articles written from the point of view of Jewish orthodoxy, no in- depth work has been produced specifically examining the nature of his Judaism. The thesis draws out neglected and misunderstood aspects of Buber's thought and aims to conclude that his understanding of religious experience and life is profoundly Jewish. That is to say, his perception of what is essential to Judaism and to Jewish religious experience and life draws on the same (traditional) sources as orthodoxy and maintains Buber within a specific Jewish continuum.

Consequently while the influences on Buber's developing thought are carefully examined the emphasis of the argument is on Buber's understanding of God and revelation, and of the nature of man's responsibility. These are considered after an examination of the I- Thou/I-It word-pairs which represent the attitudes associated with Buber's dialogical philosophy. The problems concerning Buber's belief that law cannot be a part, of the content of revelation, and the subsequent issue of his non-observation of mitzvot, are dealt with in depth. A parallel emphasis is given to Buber's involvement with Zionism, his work for Jewish communities in Germany before and during Hitler, and his continual work for Arab-Jewish rapprochement both in Palestine and after the establishment of the Israeli state.

It is by an analysis of the inextricable relationship between Buber's thought and practical work that the argument of the thesis establishes the reasons why Buber's self-perception is valid in terms of Jewish religious belief and life .

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