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 9 Peter Šajda Thus, the dialogical shiftof Buber’s philosophical project from pathos to ethos is explicitly thematized already in Buber’s 1906 exposition of Jewish mysticism. To be sure, the issue is not elaborated at length, but the line of thought presented in the essay is continued and receives substantial attention in Buber’s dialogical oeuvre . For Buber classical Hasidism becomes over time an emblem of a balanced spiritual doctrine that teaches the intrinsic unity of religion and ethics. The essayDie jüdische Mystik clearly indicates this trend that persists and is further elaborated in Buber’s later works. In the essayMein Weg zum ChassidismusBuber confirms the Hasidic principle of the unity of love of God and love of humans and suggests that it implies the integration of the domains of religion, ethics and politics (Buber 1918, 9–10). In the treatiseDer heilige Weghe insists that in Hasidisim the connection with the Absolute is attained by means of fraternal service and selfless help in a community which has little in common with the abstract pathic community depicted in Ekstatische Konfessionen (Buber 1920, 56–57). Buber examines at length the imperative of ethical commitment and love for one’s community in the Foreword toDer große Maggid und seine Nachfolge and places it at the heart of the Hasidic doctrine of the zaddik’s interaction with different segments of the Jewish community (Buber 1922, XLV–L, LII–LIII). Although Buber’s later philosophical works contain explicit critiques of mysticism, Hasidism is always singled out as a tradition that points in a dialogical direction. Not only does Hasidism contain a doctrine of a dialogical rela - tionship with the eternal divine Thou, it also contains a doc - trine of a dialogical relationship with the temporary human Thou. Buber’s later dialogical writings often present Hasidism as an example of ethical religiosity, which stands in contrast to religious doctrines that insufficiently reflect the impor - tance of intersubjectivity. In this way Buber counterposes Hasidism to Kierkegaard’s interpretation of religion in the essayGottesliebe und Nächstenliebe . In order to demonstrate the acosmic nature of Kierkegaard’s religious thought Buber refers to a statement from Kierkegaard’s workThe Single Individual , which he had already criticized in The Question to the Single One . In his essay Kierkegaard famously claims that “ [e]veryone should be careful about becoming involved with ‘the others,’ essentialy should speak only with God and with himself ” (Kierkegaard 1998, 106; Buber 1947, 50). Buber reacts to this by highlighting the difference between Kierkegaard’s imper - ative and the Hasidic insistence on the unity of religion and ethics: “ One must have essential intercourse only with God, says Kierkegaard. It is impossible, says Hasidism, to have truly essen - tial intercourse with God when there is no essential intercourse with men ” (Buber 1948, 165). In the subsequent passages Buber advocates the Hasidic approach, in which the ethical and the religious are seen as interdependent and co-extensive. By emphasizing the unity of love of God and love of the neighbor Hasidism precludes any form of religiousness that would downplay the importance of concrete ethical action. Moreover, by insisting that “ the pedagogically decisive way is from ‘below’ ‘upward’ ” (Buber 1948, 170). Hasidism teaches that ethically relating to humans constitutes the first step in the individual’s learning process of how to relate meaningfully to any alterity, including God. Although the most explicit elaborations on the doctrine of intersubjectivity and community contained in Hasidism can be found in Buber’s dialogical writings, his early essayDie jüdische Mystik clearly anticipates these reflections. More - over, by claiming that the Hasidic thinkers accomplished the essential shift from pathos to ethos , Buber anticipates his own shift in this direction. As Mendes-Flohr argued in his analyses, Buber’s dialogical turn is in its essence a shift from pathos to ethos , from subjectivity and interiority to intersubjectivity and community. 4 Final Remarks It is obvious from the presented analysis that Buber’s pre-di - alogical thought is characterized by strong acosmic tendencies that are incompatible with his later philosophy of dialogue. These acosmic tendencies are manifestly present in Buber’s early philosophy of mysticism, in which he explores the theory of the religious individual without regard for the individual’s rootedness in relationships with concrete histori - cal humans. Although Buber thematizes the individual’s com - munion with others, this communion is fully ahistorical and devoid of any ethical content. It is completely absorbed into the sphere of subjectivity and integrated into the process of unification with the Absolute. Moreover, Buber’s notion of the mystic’s abstract communion with others, which is discon - nected from actual intersubjectivity, is later translated into political terms, when during the World War I Buber devises the concept of a  pathic community of passionate fighters. These depictions confirm Mendes-Flohr’s claim that