Buber, Martin, 1878-1965, Rosenzweig, Franz, 1886-1929, Lévinas, Emmanuel, 1906-1995, Philosophy, Jewish, Dualism, Subjectivity
This article compares three important Jewish philosophers of our century with each other: Martin Buber (1879–1965), Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929) and Emmanuel Lévinas (1906–1995). There are some obvious reasons for doing this already in the facts that Buber and Rosenzweig for years worked close to each other and that Lévinas himself acknowledged his debt to Rosenzweig. Their philosophical closeness expresses itself in their stress that philosophy cannot be content with an observing attitude which assigns man a place in an all-encompassing totality. Man is included in a social world of living relations. They reject the all-inclusiveness of the subjective self, the experience of the consciousness in Husserl’s phenomenology. For all of them inter-subjectivity was crucial and they stressed the need to give space to “the other” and concede the difference of the other. The other should, like the self, be considered unique, not “the same”. The other actually resists all my attempts to include it and make it part of my own consciousness. They differ from each other in the way they see the relations between myself and the other. Buber stressed the mutuality of the dialogue, whereas Lévinas thought that the question of mutuality has to be left to the other. What is important is, according to Lévinas, that I am not allowed to turn away from the other. Buber also stressed the uniqueness of the dialogue and its qualitative difference from the other main type of relationship. Rosenzweig criticized what he considered Buber’s “dualism” between “you” and “it” and accused Buber for devaluating the “it” which is also God’s creation and therefore important.