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Idealistic Studies


published on November 7, 2019

Michael P. Berman

The Natural Complexes of Encounters

The totalizing and absolutizing tendencies of metaphysics can undermine our essential ethical relationality. Is there a metaphysics that is robust enough and conducive to preserving this intuition? In answer, this paper will draw upon Martin Buber and Justus Buchler. Buber’s seminal work, I and Thou (1923), explores the nature of the ethical encounter. Buchler’s Metaphysics of Natural Complexes (1966) develops a general ontology, which can be described as an ordinal metaphysics. Encounters are thoroughly relational for Buber. Buchler’s metaphysics is also thoroughly relational. A phenomenological approach to relationality establishes the medium for this dialogue and provides a common ground for these texts. Not only is there a way to account for Buber’s encounter, but there is also an inherent moral understanding in Buchler’s metaphysics that preserves and is conducive to ethical relationality. Buchler’s metaphysics avoids the totalizing and absolutizing tendencies derided by Buber, while simultaneously promotes a version of the encounter.

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