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Mendes-Flohr, Paul [Ed.]
Dialogue as a Trans-disciplinary Concept. Martin Buber’s Philosophy of Dialogue and its Contemporary Reception.
Berlin u. a.: De Gruyter 2015. VI, 220 S. = Studia Judaica, 83. Geb. EUR 99,95. ISBN 978-3-11-037915-0.
In a time of increasing academic specialization and fragmentation, Martin Buber is an atypical figure, which cannot fit into any narrow academic profile. The hermeneutic multivalence of his dialogical principle accompanies his writings, devoted to manifold disciplines, from philosophy to biblical studies, from comparative religion to literature, from pedagogy to sociology. The volume Dialogue as a Trans-disciplinary Concept, consisting of twelve essays, edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr, testifies it, shedding the light of Buber’s dialogical principle through a prism of multiple subjects.
Recalling a personal memory of a speech of Buber he attended as a student in Bonn, Jürgen Habermas’ lecture A philosophy of Dia-logue, delivered at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2012, opens the book, and acknowledges the attention paid by Buber to define the human existence as a communicative one. Habermas focuses on the I-Thou relationship as a performative act, hinting at its implications in and beyond Buber’s formulation. The Jewish philosopher, moreover, does not limit the dialogical principle to the interhuman sphere, but discovers in the fact of »being addressed« a fundamental dimension of the whole reality. This is also a milestone in Bachtin’s work. Through an accurate reconstruction of the concept and terminology of dialogue in Problems of Dostoevsky’s Art as well as showing parallels between the idea of artistic creativity as developed by both the authors, Matveev asserts Buber’s mostly denied influence on Bachtin’s dialogism and his concept of »polyphony«.
Barash’s and Brody’s contributes elucidate the tension between politics and theology in Buber’s writings. The former presents the sharp debate on Zionism between H. Cohen and the younger philosopher, which burst out in the middle of the First World War. The contrast between the issue of loyalty towards Germany and the concrete possibility of a Jewish homeland in Palestine is to be as-cribed here to Cohen’s and Buber’s different conceptions of statehood. Buber’s prophetic Zionism aimed at the instauration of the kingdom of God on this earth through Eretz Israel. Therefore, Brody raises the question; »is theopolitics an antipolitics?« discussing Buber’s view on the boundaries and the borders between religion and politics (i.e. the question of the autonomy of politics) as developed in his mature biblical writings like Königtum Gottes. The scholar recognizes in Buber’s theopolitics the delegitimation of whatsoever institutional human power in the historical hour; therefore, something »anarchistic«, or even a counter-concept against Schmitt’s »fascistic« political theology.
Editing Hasidic anthologies, reflecting on the meaning of be-lieving in a God for the man of today, engaged in multiple dialogues with Christian theologians, Buber ceaselessly devoted himself to religious studies. Even if his hermeneutical approach has been strongly criticized by Scholem, his contribute to transmit know-ledge of Hasidism is indisputable. HaCohen supports this thesis reconstructing Buber’s way of editing a Hasidic anecdote, showing the differences between its first publication in Die chassidischen Bücher and its second occurrence, modified according to the prin-ciples of his philosophy of dialogue in Gog und Magog. After her etymological recognition of the lemma Religio in the Roman andin the Christian world, Kajon takes into account the distinctive meanings of Religion throughout the various stages of Buber’s thought, from its identification with a series of forms, ceremonies and doctrines in Jüdische Religiosität to his apology for its re-appropriation to overcome the crisis of our time in Gottesfinsternis. A diachronic perspective is also applied by Kuschel in order to go over the dialogue that Buber had all along his life with Christianity. The essay is leaded by the conception that the dialogical principle is not to be intended as an irenic one. On the contrary, it implies being open for a sincere confrontation with the opponent. This is always the case by Buber, no matter if the question is the identification of Jesus as the Messiah, his Bibelverdeutschung, or the so-called Judenfrage in debates with theologians like G. Kittel.
A final group of essays testifies the vitality of the dialogical principle for further disciplines like ethnology, psychotherapy and cultural studies. Bilu’s essay explores the place allotted to dialogue in ethnography. Criticizing the »scientific distance« paradigm as a form of the reifying and anonym I-It relation, he sets against it a dialogical anthropology, which considers native speakers as world-maker agents through dialogue. Connecting Victor Turner’s and Buber’s thought, Kraft interprets dialogue, community, and identity as forms of »liminality«: the first, creating the exclusive sphere of a »between« shared by the interlocutors; the second, as the genu-ine form of interhuman encounters and living together; the third, as a product of the tension between individual self-determination and tradition. As Abramovitch’s paper shows, Buber took psychotherapy seriously (during his lifetime he was in contact with tow-ering figures like Wundt, Freud, Jung, Binswanger, and Rogers), warning it to do not forget the uniqueness of every genuine therapeutic encounter in the principle of »healing through meeting«. As we apprehend from Flashman, even the family therapy, developed through Bowen’s concept of »differentiation of the self in the system« and Stern’s notion of »co-creation«, benefits from the contribution of Buber’s dialogical principle. Without referring explicitly to it, Aleida Assmann’s essay concludes the volume, presenting how the so-called politics of remembering are based on the transformative power of memory in order to overcome divisive social and political relationships. This is particular the case when one’s memory renounce to its egotism, and accepts the challenge to integrate different perspectives on a common traumatic legacy, be-coming, along this way, what she calls a »dialogic memory«.