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THIS work in its original, German form has already,
since its publication fourteen years ago, exercised on
the Continent an influence, quite out of proportion to
its slender size. In view of this influence alone it may
be affirmed that I and Thou will rank as one of the
epoch-making books of our generation. It has hitherto
been comparatively unknown among English-speaking
students of philosophy and theology.
I and Thou is to be understood in the context of
Buber's previous intensive study, chiefly of Jewish
mystical writings. It is not an isolated phenomenon
among his works, but represents the culmination of
the intensely religious interest that characterises them
all. It is, indeed, philosophical; but it is not an
academic work of discursive philosophy. It is mystical,
but it belongs to what Pringle-Pattison has termed the
"higher Mysticism" of real communion with God, as
distinguished from the debased1 mysticism that sub-
stitutes for the real present world a world of illusory
delights, where " absorption " in the Diym^ is experi-
enced. The decrying of mysticism as a whole, fashion-
able to-day among Protestant writers, has a weighty
retort in the present work. For an indubitably real
mystical experience is here set forth, not with contempt