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Sunday, October 17, 2010


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Thank you for clarifying this passage. Buber is my first theological encounter with Judaism . I've been devouring this and Kierkegaard's 'Works of Love' in conjunction; a somewhat revelatory experience .

'Is God dependent on man to be who he is?  If yes, then the aseity of God is compromised. '

He obliquely addresses this complication in the afterword (p.181 ) written in 1957 . There is a relevant passage in the text itself but I cannot recollect its location – a consequence of reading too greedily

' I should have to say that of God's infinitely many attributes we human beings know not two, as Spinoza thought, but three : in addition to spiritlikeness- the source of what we call spirit – and naturelikeness, exemplified by what we know as nature, also thirdly the attribute of personlikeness...now the contradiction appears...A person... is by definition an independent individual and yet also relativized by the plurality of other independent individuals; and this , of course, could not be said of God. This contradiction is met by the paradoxical designation of God as the absolute person, that is one that cannot be relativized . It is as the absolute person that God enters into the direct relationship to us ... Now we may say that God carries his absoluteness into his relationship with man. '

This is all a bit beyond me for now.

You're right: Buber does touch upon the problem I raise on p. 181. The problem is contained in nuce in the phrase 'absolute person' which smacks of a contradictio in adjecto. How can it be true both that personhood subsists only in the I-Thou relation and that God is an absolute person, i.e., a person whose personhood does not require relation to an Other to be what it is?

As far as I can see Buber simply accepts the contradiction, as if Gode is a being 'beyond logic.' Curiously, that brings him close to mysticism again.

Stressing as he does the transcendence, the radical otherness of God, Buber seems to go so far as to place God entirely beyond the categories of our understanding including those of logic. Thus God is supralogical. But then we begin to lose our grip on what we are talking about. These are ancient problems that no one has ever solved.

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