Meaning of Otherness

What is Otherness:

Otherness is ability to become aware of one’s own individuality by looking at oneself from a perspective other than oneself.

Otherness in everyday life is produced in the processes when one goes from childhood to adolescence. When one identifies or becomes aware of oneself as a person when we identify ourselves from the outside. In this way, many of the processes in adolescence are due to the perception of otherness.

In philosophy, otherness is studied by identifying reason as a construction of social, cultural and individual elements. In this way, philosophical otherness questions its own reasoning and existence by confronting forms of thought different from its own, such as, for example, Western versus Eastern philosophy.

In literature, authors such as the Mexican winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature Octavio Paz (1914-1998) explore the notion of otherness through his poetry and essays. in his essay The Labyrinth of Solitudefor example, manages to describe what it is to be a Mexican looking from the outside and through the experiences of an adolescent who migrates to the United States.

The Labyrinth of Solitude it also exposes cultural otherness, since the author recounts the cultural behavior of Mexicans through the eyes of someone with a different culture.

Cultural otherness can also be identified, for example, when migrating to a country with a different culture and there encountering the uses and customs of a compatriot.

In cultural anthropology, otherness is the object of study of cultural alterity.

otherness and alterity

Otherness and alterity are commonly used as synonyms. Otherness refers to the other while otherness derives from the Latin alter which also means “other”. In this sense, these two concepts seem to differ only in their etymological root.

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Despite this, otherness is more used as the process of separation from oneself to create awareness of our own individuality, while the use of alterity refers to the identification with someone other than oneself for the same process.

See also Otherness.