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Martin Buber

27 Podcast Episodes

Latest 18 Sep 2021 | Updated Daily

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018: The Melancholy of the Human Position: Scholar Dr. Dustin Atlas in Conversation About the Work of Martin Buber and The Ephemeralness of Relationship

The Dignity of Suffering

Welcome to Episode 18. I was once attending a conference in downtown Toronto and the theme of the conference was the entry problem: how do we enter into psychological material? There's a whole philosophical tradition, most notably at present taken up by a German psychologist and philosopher named Wolfgang Geegref who relies on a way of looking at psychology that postulates that it is basically psychology studying itself.  So when we're in therapy or we're thinking about ourselves, it's a very difficult thing to do. It's not like looking at an organ, for instance, and assessing what's wrong and deciding whether to do surgery or take another approach. Psyche studies psyche. And about halfway through the day at this conference, I had to go move my car and I put the car in the underground parking lot at this hotel. I went to go back upstairs to rejoin the conference and there was a doorway not too far from where I parked. And up the stairs, there was another door that I opened and the door closed behind me. And then I realized that there were no handles on any of the doors in the room that I was in. Actually, there was a window just facing the street. I found myself with all these locked doors with no handles.  Sounds like I'd entered into a psychiatric ward. But no, I somehow had entered a door that I wasn't supposed to. And the irony wasn't lost on me that here I was at a conference discussing the entry problem and there was no way for me to enter. I eventually bang so hard on a door a man in a chef's hat came out. It must have been the rear of the kitchen and I imagine that security fixed the issue after that.  The reason I tell you this story is apropos of my interview today. Dr. Dustin Atlas is the director of Jewish Studies and Assistant Professor in the School of Religion at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His current book project, Buber Talks Jewish Dialogue and the Nonhuman World, uses the work of Martin Buber to interrogate contemporary post-human concerns in Jewish thought, politics, and life, exploring the ways in which Jewish thought allows us to engage the nonhuman. I reached out to him because I have only a peripheral knowledge of the philosopher Martin Buber’s work. Martin Buber, who lived from 1878 to 1965, was a prolific author, scholar, literary translator, and political activist whose writings ranged from Jewish mysticism to social philosophy, Biblical Studies, religious finance, rhinology, philosophical anthropology, education, politics, and art.  But most famous among his writings was a short but powerful book entitled I and Thou which he wrote in 1923 where he considered our relations to others as twofold. There was the I-it relation which prevails between subject and objects of thought and action. And there was the I-thou relationship on the other hand which exceeds the subject-object relationship. All to say that Buber, and as you'll hear Dustin go into great detail in our interview today, was very much concerned with the limitations, challenges, and obstacles informing authentic connection. And this goes back to the entry problem because this is not something that can be forced or manufactured. This is a notion that pervades much of our lives but also a lot of psychological theory.  In thinking about my preface to my conversation with Dustin today, I wanted to share a kind of moment that I don't know whether I talk about it very often. I don't know if I've heard many other therapists talk about it. But it's the moment when somebody first walks in the door for therapy and there's a kind of unknown that enters the room. Usually, there's a lot of hunger when somebody finally decides to go to therapy. Usually, there's a lot that comes with that in terms of expectation. As I publish and produce more, people come in maybe having a sense of who I am, having listened to this podcast, having read my writing. And all of that is in the room.  And, of course, this is who I am. But in that moment, meeting an individual, it isn't who I am. I've never been in that moment before. And, as I've maybe talked about previously in this podcast, I also think it's important to resist certain temptations when it comes to finding answers. And I think that that pervades to a degree the conversation with Dustin today where, at some point, I felt that the two of us were talking about a kind of space to hold the nonspace, the nonbeing. Later in our chat, he references relationships and references Martin Buber, talking about all of the different revolutions that human beings go through in a long-term intimate relationship. This is something that I face every day in my clinical practice with couples and in my own marriage where it's really important. I think that that's what I really appreciated about Dustin sharing with us his expert knowledge in the work of Martin Buber and others. It's crucial at least to try to frame the dissolution of moments in time, of ways that we understand ourselves and others, which we need on the one hand to not become psychotic so that we have some kind of predictable, continuous psychic skin and experience.  But also one of the huge challenges existentially is having to mourn the loss of so much of what we experienced as familiar and real. And, understandably, there can be an incredible clinging on to what we have come to know about ourselves and others. And to be honest, I think this is half of what I do as a therapist: sitting with people in mourning the loss of what they imagine themselves, their future, and others to be and tolerating a kind of nonspace, nonbeing that often we have no indication of how long being in that state will last. I also want to avoid in my preface any kind of reification of these notions. There's certainly an attempt on my part to share a very private experience as a therapist where there's a very real part of me in the room trying to connect with someone, especially when we are first meeting, but also a part of me that needs to just observe and wait and listen. And frankly, the older I get, the more I've noticed that I’m not only listening to a voice which is not mine and is mind at the same time but also a somatic felt sense of what my body is telling me in the moment. And in other podcasts, maybe I'll go into some of the great work of people like Allan Schore and Peter Levine who confirm and really shore up the brilliance of those parts of our membrane that allow us to know a certain wisdom. But really I think what pervades my conversation with Dustin is a kind of lament between an attempt at reaching some kind of connection with others, with animals, with inanimate objects, and the necessity to have to wait, withhold, and not cling on to experiences that, ultimately, we experience as true or authentic. Dustin doesn't mince words with the ideas that he finds very troubling. I often bristle at the notion of authenticity because I don't really know what it means. We're never fully authentic. That's what the discovery of the unconscious, I think, really solidified for us, that we don't really know often if we're being true or not being true. Dustin and I sat together a couple of years ago now in Kingston. I was just getting to know him and he, first of all, let me know that he was a scholar of Martin Buber’s work. And then he added that it wasn't even so much the conventional notion that a lot of us think of when it comes to Buber and his focus on relationship and really that delineation of relationship, but he brought up the fact that he’s even more interested with his work on relationship with animals and even with things, with objects. And so I wanted to bring Dustin onto the podcast in part because it's just an interesting area of thought to consider how two people connect and as a therapist I'm constantly oscillating between the fact that I think I'm just making everything up and maybe occasionally I actually connect with somebody. Please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Dustin Atlas. Show Highlights: What sparked Dustin’s interest in the work of Martin Buber. The nothingness that comes with dialogue. What animals teach us about how dialogue is ephemeral. Martin Buber’s hostility to Carl Jung. The different kinds of relationships we can have with objects. Why Buber said religion isn’t experiential. Why children interact with objects much more easily than adults. The differences between young and older Buber. How to bear disappointment about the things you thought you knew and had but don’t know or have anymore. Why you live in a narrow world if you only relate to other human beings. How playing with our kids is a form of dialogue. The fractured space of relations. Subscribe and Review We’d appreciate you subscribing to this podcast and leaving an Apple Podcasts review. Reviews help others discover and learn what The Dignity of Suffering is all about. It only takes a second and helps us out a lot! If you enjoyed this episode, we've also created a PDF that has all of the key information for you from it. Just go to the episode page at https://mitchellsmolkin.com/ to download it. Supporting Resources: https://mitchellsmolkin.com/ Mitchell Smolkin is a sought-after clinician, speaker, and author. For media and interview requests please contact his publicist Randy Phipps at randy@rpcommunications.net. For all other inquiries, please send mail to info@mitchellsmolkin.com. *** Episode Credits If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Danny Ozment. He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, HR professionals, recruiters, lawyers, realtors, bloggers, coaches, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and impact the world. Find out more at https://emeraldcitypro.com

1hr

24 Aug 2021

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Book Talk 45: Paul Mendes-Flohr on Martin Buber's "I and Thou"

Think About It

Today we talk a lot about a need for genuine dialogue, and for conversations across partisan divides and differences. What is a true, authentic, and meaningful conversation? Martin Buber's landmark 1923 book, I and Thou, examines and also proposes how genuine dialogue can happen. The short book proposes that "I and Thou," and "I and It" are inseparable word pairs rather than sets of 2 distinct terms, and that once we understand ourselves are already in relation with others, rather than atomistic subjects reaching out to others, it changes our lives. I spoke with Buber's biographer and expert, Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr, of the University of Chicago and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, to clarify Buber's points and the impact of this powerful, prophetic and poetic book which is not only a landmark of 20th-century intellectual history but also one of the most influential books of Western theology. Uli Baer teaches literature and photography as University Professor at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim, Getty and Humboldt awards, in addition to hosting "Speaking of…” he hosts (with Caroline Weber) the podcast "The Proust Questionnaire” and is Editorial Director at Warbler Press. Email ucb1@nyu.edu; Twitter @UliBaer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 9mins

2 May 2021

Similar People

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Leading Figures in Education: Martin Buber

Hillsdale College Classical Education Podcast

Jonathan Gregg, Visiting Assistant Professor of Education at Hillsdale College, joins host Scot Bertram to discuss the thinking and teaching of Martin Buber.

25mins

7 Mar 2021

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25. De Heilige Ruimte van Martin Buber en het vervullen van behoeften

Zie hoe mooi je bent, (zelf)empathie met behulp van de Geweldloze Communicatie

Buber: ‘Onze relatie leeft in de ruimte tussen ons, in de ruimte die we samen leven’. Hij noemt deze ruimte de Heilige Ruimte. Als we geen weet hebben van die ruimte en geen weet hebben van het nemen van verantwoordelijkheid voor die ruimte, dan gaan we die ruimte vervuilen. Meer in mijn blog op mijn website: https://www.sonjazwart.nl/blog/de-heilige-ruimte-van-martin-buber-en-het-vervullen-van-behoeften/

20mins

9 Jan 2021

Most Popular

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Chayeh Sarah - Martin Buber and Seeing the World as "You" rather than "It" - Episode 5

The Schrift - Ancient Jewish Wisdom for Modern Times

Martin Buber's 1923 work Ich und Du distinguishes between "I/You" and "I/It" relationships. The modern world pressures us to see everything as "it" -- something to be used for personal gain and to be exploited. It is only when we see others as "You" -- as subjects rather than objects -- that we can feel completed and connected with the Universe. To see others, whether they be plants, animals, or humans, as "You" allows us to connect with the ultimate "You"--that of God. God is not a man with a long beard in the sky but Being and Nature and the Eternal itself.IG: Stevehead0001steventobyweinberg.comMusic: Rammstein - "Du Hast"Lovingkindness / Meta Meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLt-E4YNVHU

30mins

12 Nov 2020

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Martin Buber (1878 — 1965)

The Experience of Thinking

"To the human being the world is two-fold in accordance with his/her twofold attitude". His book 'I and Thou' published in 1923 describes a foundation in dialogue for understanding the world. It opens a new pathway in philosophy which avoids the egocentric stand point of much traditional thinking.

51mins

22 Sep 2020

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Martin Buber: A Beautiful Mind?

Tel Aviv Review

In his new biography, Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent, Paul Mendes-Flohr explores the journey of the Jewish philosopher, from his early years as a polyglot cosmopolitan intellectual under the waning Habsburg empire, to a voice of political dissent in the new state of Israel. This season is made possible by The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, which promotes humanistic, democratic, and liberal values in the social discourse in Israel.

34mins

22 Jun 2020

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Paul Mendes-Flohr, "Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent" (Yale UP, 2019)

New Books in German Studies

In Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent (Yale University Press, 2019), Paul Mendes-Flohr, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, paints a detailed and compelling portrait of one of the twentieth century's most versatile and influential thinkers. Tracing Buber's personal and intellectual biographical arcs, Mendes-Flohr helps us understand Buber as an accomplished scholar, a reverent student of Judaism, and a proponent of genuine engagement on the personal, cultural, and political levels -- but also as a person at times deeply affected by loss, dislocation, and marginalization.David Gottlieb earned his PhD, studying under Professor Mendes-Flohr in the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School, in 2018. He teaches at Spertus Institute in Chicago, and is the author of the forthcoming Second Slayings: The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory (Gorgias Press). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/german-studies

49mins

11 Nov 2019

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Paul Mendes-Flohr, "Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent" (Yale UP, 2019)

New Books in Religion

In Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent (Yale University Press, 2019), Paul Mendes-Flohr, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, paints a detailed and compelling portrait of one of the twentieth century's most versatile and influential thinkers. Tracing Buber's personal and intellectual biographical arcs, Mendes-Flohr helps us understand Buber as an accomplished scholar, a reverent student of Judaism, and a proponent of genuine engagement on the personal, cultural, and political levels -- but also as a person at times deeply affected by loss, dislocation, and marginalization.David Gottlieb earned his PhD, studying under Professor Mendes-Flohr in the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School, in 2018. He teaches at Spertus Institute in Chicago, and is the author of the forthcoming Second Slayings: The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory (Gorgias Press). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

49mins

11 Nov 2019

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Paul Mendes-Flohr, "Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent" (Yale UP, 2019)

New Books in Jewish Studies

In Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent (Yale University Press, 2019), Paul Mendes-Flohr, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, paints a detailed and compelling portrait of one of the twentieth century's most versatile and influential thinkers. Tracing Buber's personal and intellectual biographical arcs, Mendes-Flohr helps us understand Buber as an accomplished scholar, a reverent student of Judaism, and a proponent of genuine engagement on the personal, cultural, and political levels -- but also as a person at times deeply affected by loss, dislocation, and marginalization.David Gottlieb earned his PhD, studying under Professor Mendes-Flohr in the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School, in 2018. He teaches at Spertus Institute in Chicago, and is the author of the forthcoming Second Slayings: The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory (Gorgias Press). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/jewish-studies

49mins

11 Nov 2019

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