Bubers’ theory of existential guilt and shame

April 25, 2018

Martin Buber argues, in his theory of existential guilt and shame, that the goal must be to dispel the darkness which surrounds shame in spite of the enormous activity going on in one’s conscience. It’s not just a small beam of light that is needed, we need an ocean of light; a complete awakening. This can be done by holding on to new, humbling knowledge that the person one once was, is identical to the person one is now. The goal must be to restore oneself by using one’s capacity to work within historically and biologically given situations. This requires an active devotion to others and to the order of existence which one feels was once violated. To be able to do this one must collect all the energy one can find and defend oneself against the threatening splitting of the self and against self-contradiction. Buber argues that one can not do evil with all one’s heart, only good. One does not have to force oneself to do good. When one has found the one’s true self, the good happens automatically. This episode is a little over eight minutes long.

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