Friedman (Touchstones of Reality, 1971) takes Buber's ""I-Thou"" and ""I-It"" relations as paradigm for ""the human image,""...



Friedman (Touchstones of Reality, 1971) takes Buber's ""I-Thou"" and ""I-It"" relations as paradigm for ""the human image,"" which he sees as both stasis and process, being and becoming. The image remains concealed until an encounter with the Other -- full and spontaneous -- gives rise and offers form to it -- a revelation in a never-ending dialogue. One of the difficulties with the book is that this ""creative tension,"" this paradox -- subject and object, nearness and distance, acceptance and rejection -- is resolved only in the ""between,"" the community: it remains a cryptic notion. Friedman deliberately avoids abstract theorizing because he feels that the general can only be authentic when it emerges from meeting the concrete. He therefore critically immerses himself in myriad phenomena: ""scienticism,"" which abuses the valid clinical method; psychotherapy, which largely ignores the mutuality of the encounter; literary interpretation, which often merely seeks to extract theory; philosophy, which even in acknowledging the Other, subordinates it to the self; women's liberation, which in its extreme forms, denies the possibility of dialogical growth between the sexes; education, which ignores the interchange between teacher and student; and social change, which, violent or non-violent, must grant the other's position. Friedman finds prototypes in the ""Modern Promethean"" -- the Either/Or extremist such as Hitler, B.F. Skinner, Ahab and other literary characters -- and the ""Modern Job"" -- the rebel who can simultaneously accept his situation (he finds positive examples in Buber, Greet, Camus, Wiesel, and Martin Luther King). While Friedman is at ease in a variety of disciplines -- the scope of this book is dizzying -- he is more often eclectic rather than synthetic. And one can only be disappointed that such an erudite writer focuses on a concept that seems to be reducible to ""being open"" while at the same time ""holding one's ground.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 1974


Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1974