This is a paragraph from the English version of ‘Ich und Du’ by Martin Buber published by Bloomsbury on page 19. Can anyone tell me what do the ‘that’ and ‘it’ in ‘with that which meets it’ refer to?enter image description here

  • Please don't post pictures of text. Type out the part you're interested in.
    – stangdon
    May 28, 2021 at 11:14
  • with that which meets it = with anything that meets the inborn "thou". You'll have to read the whole book to get a clear idea of exactly what "the inborn thou" means - it's nowhere near "natural, transparent" use of English (Heck - almost nobody uses "thou" today anyway, so the actual implications of that word are probably very different to whatever the translator thought many years ago). May 28, 2021 at 13:07

2 Answers 2


"The inborn Thou is realised in the lived relations with that which meets it"

"It" here refers to "the inborn Thou". "That" refers to the things that are met, those with which the inborn thou is having lived relations.

The sentence basically means:

The inborn thou is realised in the lived relationships with the people or things which the inborn Thou meets.

  • Thank you for your answer. So the ‘that’ here is not used as a replacement for repeated words like in examples from here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/66453/… but is indicating something not stated explicitly but connoted in a word (like ‘people and things’ as the object of relationships)?
    – sy0224
    May 28, 2021 at 17:15
  • Yes, that's my understanding
    – E.Aigle
    May 29, 2021 at 11:13

"The inborn Thou is realised in the lived relationship with that which meets it."

According to Wikipedia "One of the major themes of the book is that human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships."

Therefore I'm assuming that this a philosophical text with the "inborn Thou" being a metaphorical "you" or self.

Thus I would determine that the "that which meets it" is essentially the world around you or your environment. ie. We are defined by our relationships with other things and other people in our lives.

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