The ontological nature of the dialogic relationship and its educational implications in Martin Buber’s philosophy


  • Abdullah Almutairi Teaching Associate, College of Education, King Saud University


Existentialism, dialogue, Martin Buber, alterity, the other


The dialogic relationship is one of the important kinds of relationships that modern education relies on. This relationship can be studied from different perspective. For example, it can be seen as a strategy by which the teacher can reach his or her goals. Moreover, dialogic relationships can be understood as a social phenomenon where a safe space for group deliberation and decision making is created. On the other hand, dialogic relationships can be studied from a different angel, namely, as an ontological attitude towards things and others. This paper aims to analyze the dialogic relationship in the latter sense using Martin Buber’s discussion in his book I and Thou which was written in 1923, but has not been translated into Arabic until 2010. This book is one of the important existentialist works that studied human relationships, especially the self-other relationship. According to Buber, the world is twofold for man in accordance with his twofold attitude and the attitude of man is twofold in accordance with the two basic words he can speak. The first word is I-Thou and the other is I-It. Each word refers to a different existential mode. The difference does not lie only in the relationship with the other, but also in the nature of the I. We notice that language is a kind of ontology for Buber which is a common theme among existentialists. This paper contains an introduction to Buber’s thesis, including its philosophical underpinnings and Its educational implications and critique.