theologian Martin Buber (1923=1958), a student of Dilthey, further delineated
human relations as a triad composed of society, spirit, and nature, all of
which involve some profound relations between humans and the objects
in their perceived reality, be it nature or supernature.
From a metaphysical perspective, ontological differences regarding the
nature of the entities or perceived reality to which we are tied, can further
divide Buber’s (1923=1958) triad into two levels of human relations corresponding
to physical and non-physical realities.
The primary human relation
concerns a link with nature and society, a physical reality shared by all
The secondary human relation has to do with spirit, a non-physical
reality that is diversely conceptualized in various religious and spiritual
Derived from either or both levels of such realities, a sense of
deep interconnectedness can offer motivating power for life (Ai, Tice, &
Kelsey, 2009). Based on one’s worldviews, each of these relations can forge
a sacred interconnectedness, if it is deeply meaningful. For example, a
religious relation with spirit may convey a sense of spiritually complete
dependence on God (Schleiermacher, 1821=1969) in monotheist faiths; or,
in other faiths, it may increase dependence on other entities (e.g., ancestor
spirits, cosmic forces, angels, Buddha). On the other hand, the humans’ interplay
with society or nature may nourish the feeling of deep interdependence
with the world-at-large (Ai et al., 2009).