Course Hero Logo

I and Thou | Study Guide

Martin Buber

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "I and Thou Study Guide." Course Hero. 1 Dec. 2019. Web. 2 Feb. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2019, December 1). I and Thou Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "I and Thou Study Guide." December 1, 2019. Accessed February 2, 2023.


Course Hero, "I and Thou Study Guide," December 1, 2019, accessed February 2, 2023,

I and Thou | Glossary


antinomy: (n) Another name for paradox, antinomy exists when two equally reasonable ideas, propositions, or experiences are opposites and need to be reconciled in some way.

Brahman: (n) In Indian Vedanta philosophy, Brahman is the name given to the One Ultimate Reality, or God consciousness, from which all appearances (the phenomenal world) come into being. It is not to be confused with Brahmin or brahmin, the name of the priestly caste of India's traditional socioeconomic class system.

ego: (n) Similar to its meaning in Freudian psychology, ego is a conscious, thinking subject that interacts with the world through a personal identity. The ego is necessary for a human to survive in the world, but in setting itself apart from others, the ego moves away from being.

golem: (n) In Jewish lore, a golem is an animated clod of materiality without a soul. Buber uses the term to refer to the severed It of institutions, cut off from persons and community.

I-It: (phrase) The I-It relation occurs when a person, conscious of themselves as a subjectivity, objectifies either a person or a thing. The It is seen as something outside of I and as an object of experience, and the relation of I-It takes place in the past, because experience requires reflection.

I-saying: (phrase) When a person addresses another from the totality of their I, for the purpose of entering into an I-You relation, they are I-saying.

I-You: (phrase) Called a word pair and sometimes a word, the I is a person conscious of themselves as a subjectivity, and the You is addressed by the I from I's totality. When I metaphorically touches You, Buber says I is touched "by the breath of eternal life." When I calls to You, the two enter a relation in the present.

It-world: (phrase) The It-world is the world of objects, both things and persons, in which a subjectivity (a person) stands apart from their objects. Although it is necessary for humans to objectify the manifest world so they can live normal, productive lives, to be fully human, people sometimes must step out of the It-world and into the world of I and You.

karma: (n) In Indian religion and philosophy, karma is action that sets in motion a cause-effect chain. The actions of ordinary people create karma, from which they suffer or enjoy the result.

mana: (n) The term is used in Polynesian and Melanesian societies to denote the power of primordial forces of nature when they are embodied in an object or a person.

mysticism: (n) Buber uses the term to refer to any religious or spiritual practice in which the seeker or devotee immerses their subjectivity in God or has a realization that their subjectivity is not different from God.

noumena: (n, pl) Noumena are things in themselves, not things as they are perceived by the senses. Modern philosophers are skeptical about the existence of noumena, such as divine beings, that are posited as existing independently.

phenomena: As opposed to noumena, phenomena are objects or events as perceived

through sensory apparatus—or the way the things of the world appear to the observer.: n, pl

present: (n) Buber emphasizes that I-You relations can take place only in the present, the time period that excludes reflection or experience. All other relations occur in the past since they have already entered the realm of reflection and experience.

salvation: (n) Buber speaks of salvation in the context of Eastern philosophy—freedom from the wheel of karma (action) or rebirth. For Buber's purposes, salvation is unity that occurs when I confronts You. These two bind up time and space when they enter into a relation, a community of two in the present.

Upanishads: (n, pl) The principal Upanishads are Indian sacred texts found within a larger compilation called the Veda. They are a primer of self-realization and form the basis for the philosophy of Vedanta.

Word: (n) In Buber's philosophy, the word is a vehicle through which one can speak from one's whole being, but only when using a primary Word like I-You.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about I and Thou? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!