Volume 6 / Issue 1 SPRING 2020

S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 6 - 1 S p r i n g 2 0 2 0 3 5 Peter Šajda 1 Introduction The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber has long been known as a critic of dualistic religious paradigms that contain the imperative of renouncing the world. He denoted such paradigms as acosmic thus highlighting their problematic relation to the cosmos . Buber developed his criticism of acosmism most clearly in his workThe Question to the Single One (1936) in which he paid close attention to the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. Buber’s central claim was that Kierkegaard’s du - alistic interpretation of religion introduces a chasm between the individual’s relation to God and his relations to fellow humans. While the individual is to relate to God in an essential way – i.e. with his whole being – he is called to renounce all essential relating to other humans in order to preserve the exclusiveness of his God-relationship (Buber 1947, 50–52). On the basis of this interpretation Buber accused Kierkegaard of acosmism and repeated this claim in his later discussions of Kierkegaard. Interestingly, the accusation of acosmism has been leveled also against Buber himself. It has been aimed at Buber’s pre-dialogical authorship that is characterized by differ - ent emphases and concerns than his well-known dialogical authorship. Buber’s pre-dialogical work focuses primarily on the individual and critics have argued that it contains extremely problematic concepts of intersubjectivity and community. It is important to bear in mind that Buber’s pre-dia - logical authorship is extensive: it comprises more than 150 texts written in a period of circa 20 years (1897–1916). In the present paper, which is primarily a historical investi - gation, I track the acosmic tendencies in Buber’s pre-dialog - ical thought. Since these tendencies are often attributed to Buber’s intensive preoccupation with mysticism, I am going to follow the evolution of Buber’s philosophical view of the mystical tradition. I will argue that although Buber’s early study of mysticism indeed contributed to the acosmic orientation of his thought, his discovery of the specific character of Jewish mysticism inspired him to shift the emphasis of his thinking from subjectivity and interiority to intersubjectivity and community [1]. In the first part of my paper I will explore the acosmic effect of the study of predominantly Christian mysticism on Buber’s thought, while in the second part I will elaborate on Buber’s discovery of the ethical imperative in the Jewish mystical tradition of Hasidism. In both parts I will be primarily concerned with Buber’s thought prior to and around his dialogical turn in 1916. Since my topic is Buber’s intellectual transition from acosmism to dialogicalism I will not devote closer attention to his mature dialogical thought. Thus, I will not discuss his treatments of mysicism About the author Doc. Peter Šajda, PhD. , is Associate Professor of philosophy at the Department of Philosophy of the Faculty of Arts, Trnava University, Slovakia. He is also a senior researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the Slovak Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on anthropological, ethical, religious, and social-political issues. He collaborates with the Søren Kierkegaard Research Center in Copenhagen, where he serves as an editor of theKierkegaard Studies Year - bookand theKierkegaard Studies Monograph Series . He authored the monographsBuber’s Polemic with Kierkegaard: On the Relation of Religion to Ethics and Politics (in Slovak, 2013) and The Kierkegaard Renais - sance: Philosophy, Religion, Politics (in Slovak, 2016) , and edited the anthologiesAffectivity, Agency and Intersubjectivity (L’Harmattan, 2012) andKierkegaard in Context (Mercer University Press, 2019). His email address is filosajd@savba.sk. in his well-known works, such as I and Thou orThe Question to the Single One , which follow the dialogical line. The only later work that I will briefly discuss isGottesliebe und Nächstenliebe , since it contains a Hasidism-inspired critique of acosmism that is of special interest for my analysis. ← ← Martin Buber