Friday, April 17, 2009

Philosophy Exam (in 3 hours)

Ahoy! I'm going to practice my exam on ya'll. If you don't want to know about it, why then, don't read - I won't be offended (not that I am anyway when people don't read this. As I've said before, this blog is mostly for me to have a place to spew random thoughts.)

So, first off, I need to memorize three quotes; 1 assigned quote and two quotes of my choice (from philosophers we've studied this semester).

Thomas Aquinas:
The purpose of the study of philosophy is not to learn what others have thought but to learn how the truth of things stands.

Blaise Pascal:
If man is not made for God, why is he only happy in God? If man is made for God, why is he so opposed to God?

Martin Buber:
Whoever says You does not have something; he has nothing. But he stands in relation.

And after that, I get to try to answer 50 short answer questions over all the "philosophers" we've covered this year.
Luther (with a tad of Erasmus)
Mill (and by extension Bentham)
Buber (with some background Nietsche)
and various Post-Moderns

Ho boy! Here we go!

And then we've got an Essay Question (worth a measly 40%) introducing a major idea from the term that we consider important. And that's what I'm going to sort of rudimentarily do here and now with Martin Buber's "I-Thou" philosophy.

According to Buber there are two attitudes a person can take toward the world and those in it corresponding to what he calls the "two basic words" which are actually word pairs. These attitudes are "I-You" and "I-It." To say You or It to a thing/person establishes a mode of relation to said thing/person. There is no "I" existence alone. "I" only exists in "I-You" mode or "I-It" mode. ("It" includes "He" and "She.") These words are said with one's being.

"It" is the object of goal directed verbs. I smell a flower; the flower is an "It." I measure a table; the table is an "It." I bandage a person; the person is "He." I test God; God is "He." The realm of Experience belongs to "I-It," because Experience experiences some thing.

Nor can one enter the realm of "I-You" by introspection or inner/spiritual experiences. Whether internal or external, the mode of relating via experience occurs solely in the realm of "I-It."

"Those who experience do not participate in the world. For the experience is "in them" and not between them and the world." In the same way, "the world does not participate in experience" but "allows itself to be experienced." In "I-It" mode, the subject abstracts some information or sensation from the object, but the object contributes nothing and neither does the subject. The act of sniffing the breeze captures information from the breeze but neither I nor the wind give each other anything.

If Experience is the way of functioning in the "I-It" realm, "I-You" establishes Relation. "Whoever says you does not have something for his object." He does not experience a "thing" or even a person. He stands in relation. He does not "have" anything at all. In Relation, "You" is not a conglomerate of qualities, but a Being - timeless, spaceless, unabstracted.

There are three categories of beings to which one can say "You": beings in nature, human beings, and spiritual beings. For each of these three categories, the "You" we say will take a slightly different form. In this post I will stick to "life with men" for "here the relation is manifest and enters language. We can give and receive the You." This relationship is reciprocal: both say "You," (though one can say You, thereby establishing the Relation mode of existence and the other know it not.)

"When I confront a human being as my You and speak the basic word I-You to him, then he is no thing among things nor does he consist of things." He's not a bunch of qualities nor is he bound by time and space. He's not merely a 16yr old with yellow hair and big feet in a tree. He's a being to whom I'm in relation. That doesn't mean he is abstracted from his age, hair color, shoe size, and perch, but that all of those things are seen in light of him. These things are seen as part of him, but once you abstract his hair color, shoe size, age or anyother quality from him, you no longer have him as a You but as an It. In relation, I do not experience my You. (There are occasions where I must deal with a person as He rather than You - both are necessary to living as a human - and those are the times when I experience him and his qualities.) Not experiencing does not mean that I do not know anything about my You when I am in relation; rather I know "only everything" for I no longer know particulars.

The "I-You" relation involves a "risk and sacrifice" for the "You" must be said with one's whole being. I in and I-It relationship can relax, removed from the object I experience, but I in the I-You experience puts myself in service to my You. This relation is both passive and active. "The You encounters me by grace - it cannot be found by seeking. But that I speak the basic word to it is a deed of my whole being, is my essential deed. The You encounters me. But I enter into a direct relationship to it. Thus the relationship is election and electing, passive and active at once...The concentration and fusion into a whole being can never be accomplished by men, can never be accomplished without me. I require a You to become; becoming I, I say You."

"I-You" relationships are completely unmediated in that no means comes between I and You. Such means is an obstacle to relation because it is an instrument of the It world. But the real divisive line of reality is not "between experience and non-experience, nor between the given and the not-given, nor between the world of being and the world of value, but across all the regions between You and It: between presence and object." Objects (It, He, She) reside in the past. I experienced a thunderstorm when I was three. I touched a starfish in 2007. The thunderstorm and the starfish are objects. They are past. Presence is being, is You. The "essential is lived in the present."

To bridge the boundary, some turn to the world of ideas. But ideas are not beings and cannot participate in I-You relations. "The It-humanity that some imagine, postulate, and advertise has nothing in common with the bodily humanity to which a human being can truly say You." One cannot love the idea of humanity. One must love persons. Only by saying You to each individual person can one say You to humanity. I-You relation demands action; "the essential act that here establishes directness is usually misunderstood as feeling, and thus misunderstood." Love, says Buber is not a feeling. "Feeling one "has"; love occurs. Fellings dwell in man, but man dwells in his love...Love is responsibility of an I for a You: in this consists what cannot consist in any feeling - the equality of all lovers, from the smallest to the greatest and from the blisfully secure whose life is circumscribed by the life of one beloved human being to him that is nailed his life long to the cross of the world, capable of what is immense and bold enough to risk it: to love man." These acts of an I-You relationship are reciprocal - not in that the one for whom they are done necessarily acts back but that "my You acts on me as I act on it. Our students teach us, our works form us."

Hatred, according to Buber, is not possible between and I and a You because hatred cannot be spoken with one's whole being nor can one hate if one truly sees a being in its wholeness." Hatred remains blind by its very nature; one can hate only part of a being. Whoever sees a whole being and must reject it, is no longer in the dominion of hatred but in the human limitation of the capacity to say You."

Though every You must at sometime become an It, be an object, it becomes again a You when an I speaks the basic word pair establishing I-You existence. One cannot at all times relate in the You world; the It world is necessary as well. The It world is firm and can be measured, put into nice little labeled boxes. The world of being, on the other hand, is present but unstable: "measure and comparison have fled." "It [the world of being] is your present; you have a present only insofar as you have it; and you can made it into an object for you and experience and use it - you must do that again and again - and then you have no present any more. Between you and it there is a reciprocity of giving: you say You to it and give yourself to it; it says You to you and gives itself to you. You cannot come to an understanding about it with others."

Man is tempted to live solely in the It world. It's much safer. There are do demands, no sacrifices, only using and experiencing. It is hard and objective. And so man is tempted to say You and mean It. Whoever means It says It with his being even if the form of his words is You; he establishes the I-It existence.
"One cannot live in the pure present: it would consume us if care were not taken that it is overcome quickly and thoroughly. But in pure past one can live; in fact, only there can a life be arranged. One only has to fill every moment with experiencing and using, and it ceases to burn."

I don't have time to explain more 'cause I've got to go take that exam. Hope this makes a little bit of sense! Bye, bye! :D

"And in all seriousness of truth, listen; without It a human being cannot live. But whoever lives only with that is not human."


elizabeth said...

hope it went well!! see you tomorrow!

Pine Cone Boy said...

Oh, dear heavens. You did so much better on that essay question that I did. :P