Relativity and logic 

For Martin Buber, the I to Thou relationship between people in a constantly changing world is inseparable from the human being’s relationship to God and divinity.

“Thou encounters” are approaches and primary signs which occur spontaneously all the time throughout life but which the human being is not constantly receptive to or maybe just simply not aware of. An I to Thou relationship is therefore not a constant feeling which continues to be in the I. The relationship occurs and develops between the I and the Thou and this is where deep emotions arise - but emotions alone are not the content of the encounter.

According to Buber, love, for example, should not just be understood as a wonderful feeling but also as the I’s willingness to demonstrate responsibility for the Thou.

This responsibility will be expressed by the readiness of the I to receive and unconditionally contribute to a dialogue with the Thou with no guarantee that this will have consequences. Buber explains this as “living on a knife edge”, living in insecurity, encounter Life’s events and contradictions in such a way as to allow for anything to happen, to let what is apparently good and what is apparently evil coexist in the firm belief that the ways of Good are past all understanding and can appear at any time - both as fleeting glimpses and in permanent states of being as deep and lasting interpersonal connections.

In the question of conflicts and crises, Buber sees mankind’s crises as crises of confidence which occur due to a failure in communication and dialogue. Communicative crises are closely connected to loss of confidence - “for I can only talk to someone in the truest sense of the word, if I expect that he will accept my word as genuine.” (1953)

Dialogue, communication, play and common action are therefore a question of trust, openness, mutual respect, spontaneity and intimacy.

In Buber’s dialogic, questions concerning observation and interpretation - as well as respect for children’s play and experimenting with the balance between the “Thou” and the “It worlds” - are highly relevant as these can often develop into a clash with the traditions of educational and psychological theory whose point of origin and current standpoint are in the “It” world.

These theoretical traditions interpret the different forms of play as preparation for later life in the “correct - realistic - real” world, i.e. the adult world.

In this ethnological research tradition (as presented by e.g. Piaget and Kohlberg), children’s play, upbringing, identity, sociality, etc. are seen as a kind of preparation and socialisation for the moral, norm and role sets of the adult world.

As Åm (1989) so clearly and precisely describes in her book “The Hunt for the Child’s Perspective”, the explanations for this are for the most part built up on theoretical material, the substance of which is to be found “outside the child’s own perspective”. The weight of the argument therefore rests on the reproductive aspect of children’s play, actions and forming relationships.

While it is important to recognise the existence of these reproductive aspects and functional elements, there is a danger that one-sided observations and interpretations can be coloured by the “adult perspective” alone, thus leaving little room for respecting the child’s experimentation through play which is that aspect of play which contains elements for creating dialogue and communication I to Thou and I to It.



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