Authentic Human Relations and the Economy
The paper presents some of the challenges facing contemporary Western societies and highlights their origin in capitalism’s unsound self-interpretation—as found in the most familiar modern social imaginaries. In reaction to the uncontested familiarity of these modern social imaginaries, the paper explores an alternative view of human relations in Buber’s philosophy of dialogue with the resumption of some of his ideas in contemporary theories about the sources and meaning of economic and social cooperation. The works referred to are Tomáš Sedláček’s The Economics of Good and Evil and Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization. Rifkin considers empathy the ability of human beings to show solidarity—not only with each other, but also towards their fellow creatures who they share both the planet and the attribute of mortality with. In this conception, humans have gone from empathy in blood ties, to empathy in religious associational ties, to empathy based on national identification. The emergence of an empathic civilization seems to be a consequence of an existential similarity of finite beings, combined with the possibilities brought on by the third industrial revolution. But if we search for the origin of the idea, we could also find it in other sources—among them the religious (chassidic) spirituality of Buber’s dialogic philosophy.
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