Volume 6 / Issue 1 SPRING 2020

4 0 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 “ [b]efore his proclamation of the doctrine of dialogue Buber showed hardly more than a superficial interest in ethical, or any other, relationships between individuals ” (Mendes-Flohr 1979, 8). As we have seen, Buber’s practical application of the acos - mic conception of a spiritual community failed, which caused him substantial existential distress. The dialogical conception of community, which he subseqently developed, avoided excessive abstraction and proved to be existentially much more plausible. In contrast to Mendes-Flohr’s suggestion that Buber accom - plished the shift from pathos to ethos only after his philosophical conversion in 1916, I have argued that Buber an - ticipated this shift already in his early reflections on Jewish mysticism. By identifying such a shift in the mystical teach - ings of the Hasidic religious thinkers Buber seems to begin his struggle with acosmism already in his pre-dialogical thought. It certainly took Buber some time to integrate his early findings into the overall structure of his thought, but it seems that Buber’s rejection of acosmism cannot be entirely attributed to Gustav Landauer’s influence. Instead it seems to be, at least in part, an outcome of a long-time inner struggle on Buber’s part. Perhaps, it was this lengthy struggle and its painful climax that later made Buber sensitive to religious doctrines with acosmic tendencies. This might have contributed to Buber’s decision to confront Kierkegaard publicly, especially in the times of political turmoil in Europe. In the face of the rising power of Nazism and Germany’s looming aggression against its neighbors, which led to World War II, Buber may have felt a duty to act differently than he did twenty years earlier. In more general terms we can say that Buber’s struggle with different interpretations of mysticism highlights the important issue of ethical, social and political consequences of intense religious experience. In his early oeuvre Buber largely avoided this issue by limiting intense religiosity to the sphere of inwardness and defining it in purely metaphysical and psychological terms. This initial disconnection of religiosity from ethical, social and political challenges prompted him to formulate overly abstract conceptions which proved dysfunctional in real-life confrontations. As we have shown, however, even the early Buber was not completely blind to the fruitfulness of ethical action that stems from intense religious experience. In fact, the ethical, social and political aspect of religiosity was gaining ground in his thought as time went by. After his breakthrough to dialogicalism in 1916 Buber embraced this aspect fully and began to develop it systematically. Notes [1] I am developing here ideas that I have already present - ed in (Šajda 2012) and (Šajda 2013). [2] This description of mysticism by Buber was pointed out by Mendes-Flohr (Mendes-Flohr 1996, XVII–XVIII). [3] I thank the anonymous referee for highlighting this fact. [4] Translation modified. Acknowledgement The paper is a partial outcome of the grant project VEGA No. 1/0871/18 realised at the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts of Trnava University.