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Full text of "I And Thou"

to experience and use comes about mostly through the
decrease of man's power to enter into relation—the
power in virtue of which alone man can live the life of
the spirit.

Spirit in its human manifestation is a response of man
to his Thou. Man speaks with many tongues, tongues
of language, of art, of action; but the spirit is one, the
response to the Thou which appears and addresses him
out of the mystery. Spirit is the word. And just as
talk in a language may well first take the form of words
in the "brain of the man, and then sound in his throat,
and yet both are merely refractions of the true event, for
in actuality speech4 does not abide in man, but man
takes his stand in speech and talks from there; so with
every word and every spirit. Spirit is not in the /, but
between I and Thou. It is not like the blood that
circulates in you, but like the air in which you breathe.
Man lives in the spirit, if he is able to respond to his
Thou. He is able to, if he enters into relation with his
whole being. Only in virtue of his power to enter into
relation is he able to live in the spirit.
But the destiny of the relational event is here set
forth in the most powerful way. The stronger the
response the more strongly does it bind up the Thou
and banish it to be an object. Only silence before the
Thou—silence of all tongues, silent patience in the
undivided word that precedes the formed and vocal
response—leaves the Thou free, and permits man to
take his stand with it in the reserve where the spirit
is not manifest, but is. Every response binds up the
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