William inevitably peters out into experience, we
William Peebles 9/17/2011 Philosophy of Religion Buber Essay In part three of “I and Thou”, Martin Buber sets out to illustrated the paradoxical relationship between the properties of an infantine God as they apply to man’s quest for encounter. Buber states that God is both “the wholly other” and “the wholly same”, the “mysterium tremendum” but also the mystery of the obvious. Buber gathers much of his terminology from the writings of Rudolf Otto.
Otto stated that God is “the wholly other” and is experienced as the “mysterium tremendum”.This concept refers to the idea that an infinite god cannot reside in our finite world, thus God is everything outside of our normal realm of experience or everything not possible to ever fully comprehend. Because God is “the wholly other” and impossible to fully understand, God also has the quality of overwhelming mystery or “mysterium tremendum”.
Our inability to break God down into facts and figures, turning him into and it rather than a You, shrouds God in an infinite mystery.While everything in our finite world can be measured by its boundaries, God is boundless and thus wholly the opposite of everything we can ever experience. While Buber describes God as being wholly opposite and overwhelmingly mysterious, Buber also claims that God is ”the wholly same” and the mystery of the obvious. Here in lies the paradox in Buber’s description of the properties of God.
God is both wholly different and wholly the same. Buber is not mistaken in saying this.God’s infinite existence does make him completely incomprehensible but only in the sense of an I-It interaction. In an I-You interaction, an interaction in which one can encounter the entirety of another, God is the eternal You.
The need to encounter God is evident through all of our human encounters. As each human encounter inevitably peters out into experience, we sense, that there is something more that we want. In this way, we come to realize that we are longing for absolute ncounter: that is, for encounter with God, the eternal You that can never degenerate into an It. In absolute encounter, God fills the universe for us in a similar way that the other person does in interpersonal encounter, but the way that God fills the universe is different: when we enter into relationship to God we are also entering into relationship with everything else in the world, because encountering God involves encountering everything belonging to God. In absolute relation, we do not ignore the rest of the world, but relate to it through relating to God.
We comprehend the world while comprehending God, though not in the sense that we believe that the world just is God, or God just the world. Instead, we simply understand the universe as it stands in relation to God. Because of this, the absolute encounter is both exclusive and inclusive.
It is exclusive, much like other encounter, because we relate to the You as if it were all that mattered for us, and see the rest of the universe through its light. It is inclusive because it is not just the divine being but also His entire universe with whom we are relating in this way.