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Publication Details

Buber on Responsibility

(Original title: Buber on Responsibility)
Filozofia, 78 (2023), 7, 548 - 563.
Type of work: Original Articles
Publication language: English
The paper deals with Martin Buber’s claim that responsibility “is the basic theme of my work in general.” As I show in the opening section of the article, his statement applies to the dialogical period of his work, but not the pre-dialogical. In the mystical phase of Buber’s thought there is no place for responsibility because the very nature of mysticism excludes that possibility. The incompatibility of mysticism and interpersonal responsibility is confirmed in the autobiographical fragment “conversion,” one of the two biographical moments I discuss in relation to the shift in his thinking on responsibility. The second is his relationship with his wife Paula Winkler, which profoundly influenced his thinking about the importance of love and marriage for an understanding of responsibility. I then explore his view of responsibility as a doctrine, which developed along with his dialogical philosophy. Finally, I examine his critical views on four basic ways of avoiding responsibility, which highlight the close connection between freedom and responsibility: belief in fate, individualism, collectivism, and religious acosmism.

Martin Buber, Dialogical philosophy, Responsibility, Freedom, Ethics

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