Skip to main content

Full text of "I And Thou"

—But is the communal life of modern man not then
of necessity sunk in the world of It ?   Can the two com-
partments of this life, economics and State, with their
present extent and completeness of structure, be con-
ceived to rest on any other basis but that of a deliber-
ate renunciation of all " directness", and a resolute
rejection of every court of appeal which is " alien ", that
is, which does not arise from this sphere itself ?   And
if it is the experiencing and using I that rules here, the
I that makes use of assets and work done in economics, and
strivings and opinions in politics, must we not thank this
unlimited mastery for the extensive and solid structure
of the great " objective ".products in these two circles ?
Is not, indeed, the productive greatness of the leading
statesman and the leading economist bound up with the
fact that he looks on the men with whom he has to deal
not as bearers of the Thou that cannot be experienced
but as centres of work and effort, whose particular
capabilities it is his concern to estimate and utilise ?
Would his world not fall in on him if, instead of adding
up He and He and He to make an 7tf, he tried to calculate
the sum of Thou and Thou and Thou—which never
yields anything but Thou again 1   Would that not be
to exchange formative mastery for fastidious dilettan-
tism, and illuminating reason for cloudy fanaticism 1
And if we look from the leaders to the led, has not the
very development in the nature of modern work and
possession destroyed almost every trace of. living with
what is over against them—of significant relation ?
It would be absurd to wish to return on this develop-
ment—and if the absurd did come about, the enormous
and nicely balanced apparatus of this civilisation, which