Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Barbara Thayer-Bacon

Committee Members

Joy DeSensi, Diana Moyer, Scott Ellison


The author proposes to examine the ontological and epistemological foundations of Martin Buber’s novel, For the Sake of Heaven, in this philosophical study. He purposes to use what he finds to address questions regarding the ways that educational communities often ignore the underlying ontological narratives that are important to communities. After describing Martin Buber’s idea of dialogical relations, the author explores dialogical relations as a current running through the novel. Using the model of the epistemic commentary, he describes the Hasidic community of the character known as the prophet in the novel. Themes of ontology and epistemology are developed. The author then proceeds to consider some possible applications of Buber’s ontology and epistemology that seem to ground the prophet’s community. Here the author considers the roles of teacher and student with ample characterization of the kinds of relations that might develop in educational communities taking on the ontological and epistemological assumptions of the prophet’s community. The author then brings to the discussion the critiques of Buber’s work: Emmanuel Levinas’ critique of the Buberian idea of symmetry in relationships, Karl Barth’s epistemological criticism of Buber’s novel, and some logically fallacious arguments against Buber’s work in the novel. The author concludes his philosophical research of Buber’s For the Sake of Heaven by paying attention to his own developing relationship with the text. Recommendations regarding future work, focusing on themes of the unintentional, on the development of ontological and epistemological grounding in educational communities, particularly in curriculum work, are made.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."