I-It Only Happens With Division

A quote from Martin Buber’s classic I and Thou that is hitting me pretty hard right now.

Martin Buber - Smart man, funny name, awesome beard.
Martin Buber – Smart man, funny name, awesome beard.

Even in the original relational event, the primitive man speaks the basic word I-You in a natural, as it were still unformed manner, not yet having recognized himself as an I; but the basic word l-It is made possible only by this recognition, by the detachment of the I.The former words splits into I and You, but it did not originate as their aggregate, it antedates any I. The latter originated as an aggregate of I and It, it postdates the I.

Martin Buber, I and Thou, p. 73-4.

I’m not sure I could adequately express the thoughts that are running through my head as I struggle with this quote. I am just amazed at the thought of us defining ourselves as “I”s through separation, which those produces an “It” because a “You” requires relation. Treating others as objects/”It”s leads to “I”s and separation, whereas being in I-You relations leads to union and an understanding of each other and ourselves in relation to others. In I-You relations we understand ourselves through a connection with a “You”, while I-It relations to us defining ourselves through separation.

I believe the God Who is relational in His being created us to be relational creatures,
I believe the God Who is relational in His being created as to be relational creatures,

I called Pam to talk through some of this and see then blew my mind (yep that’s right, my wife is as smarter as Martin Buber). She mentioned from her knowledge of child development that babies do not initially recognize themselves as separate from their parents. The infant/parent relationship is so tight that the understanding of “I” in that relation doesn’t happen till later. The “I” in that relation comes out of the initial “I-You” relation. Whereas objects are initially understood as separate. How do experts determine this? That is a question that you would need to ask Pam. She explained a little but not enough for me to be able to describe it adequately.

Struggling with understanding the implication of what Buber has written. How often have I defined myself through treating others as an “It,” rather than my “I’ coming out of and I-You relation?

Buber is brilliant, while I am not the best and conveying his brilliance. See, I think I just defined myself through separation from Buber.

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