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In 1957 a little man of about eighty years gave a series of lectures at the Washington School of Psychiatry. He had come to the United States from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to speak under the auspices of an institution concerned with restoring to health the mentally ill or aberrant. The guest was a philosopher, not a renowned therapist. Yet for Martin Buber (1878- ) himself such a designation is both acceptable and unacceptable. On the one hand he concerns himself with the objective world as philosophy conceptualizes it. On the other hand his primary concern is not speaking about God in an abstract or an objective manner as a philosopher might do. Rather, in what Buber calls the life of dialogue, he would speak with God in the concrete immediacy of human experience. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

An excerpt from Buber's book, Eclipse of God: Studies in the Relation Between Religion and Philosophy, has been removed due to copyright restrictions. A more recent edition of his book is available here.


This is a part of Section XXIII: Theological Meaning. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.