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The Other or constitutive other (also referred to as othering) is a key concept in continental philosophy, opposed to the Same. It refers, or attempts to refer to, that which is other than the concept being considered. The term often means a person other than oneself, and is often capitalised. Continental philosophy is a term used in philosophy to designate one of two major traditions of modern Western philosophy. ... In philosophy, identity is whatever makes an entity definable and recognizable, in terms of possessing a set of qualities or characteristics that distinguish it from entities of a different type. ...


The idea of the Other

A person's definition of the 'Other' is part of what defines our lifes. "what is my gender" OTHER! or even constitutes the self (see self (psychology), self (philosophy), and self-concept) and other phenomena and cultural units. The self is a key construct in several schools of psychology. ... In philosophy, the self is the idea of a unified being which is the source of an idiosyncratic conciousness. ... A persons self image is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair color, nature of external genitalia, I.Q. score, is this person double-jointed, etc. ...

Lawrence Cahoone (1996) explains it thus:

"What appear to be cultural units—human beings, words, meanings, ideas, philosophical systems, social organizations—are maintained in their apparent unity only through an active process of exclusion, opposition, and hierarchization. Other phenomena or units must be represented as foreign or 'other' through representing a hierarchical dualism in which the unit is 'privileged' or favored, and the other is devalued in some way."

It has been used in social science to understand the processes by which societies and groups exclude 'Others' who they want to subordinate or who do not fit into their society. For example, Edward Said's book Orientalism demonstrates how this was done by western societies—particularly England and France—to 'other' those people in the 'Orient' who they wanted to control. The concept of 'otherness' is also integral to the understanding of identities, as people construct roles for themselves in relation to an 'other' as part of a fluid process of action-reaction that is not necessarily related with subjugation or stigmatization. The social sciences are groups of academic disciplines that study the human aspects of the world. ... Edward Wadie Saïd (Arabic: , transliteration: ; 1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003) was a Palestinian-American literary theorist and outspoken Palestinian activist. ... Orientalism (1978; 25th-anniversary edition 2003 ISBN 0671502484) is a 328-page study by Edward Said of a mostly British and French tradition, cultural apparatus, or style of thought based on the Orient/Occident distinction. ... Motto (French) God and my right Anthem No official anthem - the  United Kingdom anthem God Save the Queen is commonly used England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Unified  -  by Athelstan 927 AD  Area  -  Total 130... The term the Orient - literally meaning sunrise, east - is traditionally used to refer to Near, Middle, and Far Eastern countries. ...

History of the idea

The concept that the self requires the other to define itself is an old one and has been expressed by many writers:

The German philosopher Hegel was among the first to introduce the idea of the other as constituent in self-consciousness, he wrote of pre-selfconscious Man: "Each consciousness pursues the death of the other", meaning that in seeing a separateness between you and another, a feeling of alienation is created, which you try to resolve by synthesis. The resolution is depicted in Hegel's famous parable of the master slave dialectic. For a direct antecedent, see Fichte. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 - November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher born in Stuttgart, Württemberg, in present-day southwest Germany. ... For the understanding that one exists, see Self-awareness. ... Synthesis (from the ancient Greek σύν (with) and θεσις (placing), is commonly understood to be an integration of two or more pre-existing elements which results in a new creation. ... The Master-Slave dialectic is a is key element in Hegels philosophy. ... Johann Gottlieb Fichte Johann Gottlieb Fichte (May 19, 1762 - January 27, 1814) has significance in the history of Western philosophy as one of the progenitors of German idealism and as a follower of Kant. ...

Sartre also made use of such a dialectic in Being and Nothingness, when describing how the world is altered at the appearance of another person, how the world now appears to orient itself around this other person. At the level Sartre presented it, however, it was without any life-threatening need for resolution, but as a feeling or phenomenon and not as a radical threat. Jean Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Sartre (June 21, 1905–April 15, 1980) was a French existentialist philosopher, dramatist, novelist and critic. ... Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology (1943) is a philosophical treatise by Jean-Paul Sartre that is regarded as the beginning of the growth of existentialism in the 20th century. ...

The Lithuanian-French philosopher, Levinas, was instrumental in coining contemporary usage of "the Other," as radically other. He also connected it with the scriptural and traditional God, in the The Infinite Other. Emmanuel Levinas (January 12, 1906 - December 25, 1995) was a Jewish philosopher originally from Kaunas in Lithuania, who moved to France where he wrote most of his works in French. ...

Ethically, for Levinas, the Other is superior or prior to the self, the mere presence of the Other makes demands before one can respond by helping them or ignoring them. This idea and that of the face-to-face encounter were re-written later, taking on Derrida's points made about the impossibility of a pure presence of the Other (the Other could be other than this pure alterity first encountered), and so issues of language and representation arose. This "re-write" was accomplished in part with Levinas' analysis of the distinction between "the saying and the said" but still maintaining a priority of ethics over metaphysics. Face to Face may refer to interactions or meetings between people in real life. ... Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French literary critic and philosopher of Jewish descent, considered the first to develop deconstruction. Positioning Derridas thought Derrida had a significant effect on continental philosophy and on literary theory, particularly through his long-time... The concept of the metaphysics of presence is an important consideration within the area of deconstruction. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wiktionary. ... Levinas, in an attempt to overcome a certain naivety within his exploration of ethics as given in what he describes as the face-to-face encounter, attempts to introduce language into what had only been a picture of such an encounter. ...

Levinas talks of the Other in terms of insomnia and wakefulness. It is an ecstasy, or exteriority toward the Other that forever remains beyond any attempt at full capture, this otherness is interminable (or infinite); even in murdering another, the otherness remains, it has not been negated or controlled. This "infiniteness" of the Other will allow Levinas to derive other aspects of philosophy and science as secondary to this ethic. Levinas writes: Ecstasy, (or ekstasis) from the Ancient Greek, έκ-στασις (ex-stasis), to be or stand outside oneself, a removal to elsewhere (from ex-: out, and stasis: a stand, or a standoff of forces). ...

The others that obsess me in the other do not affect me as examples of the same genus united with my neighbor by resemblance or common nature, indivudations of the human race, or chips off the old block... The others concern me from the first. Here fraternity precedes the commonness of a genus. My relationship with the Other as neighbor gives meaning to my relations with all the others.[1]

The "Other," as a general term in philosophy, can also be used to mean, the unconscious, silence, madness, the other of language (ie, what it refers to and what is unsaid), etc.

There may also arise the problem of relativism if the Other, as pure alterity, leads to a notion that ignores the commonality of truth. Issues may also arise around non-ethical uses of the term, and related terms, that reinforce divisions. Compare Moral relativism, Aesthetic relativism, Social constructionism and Cultural relativism. ... A common dictionary definition of truth is agreement with fact or reality.[1] There is no single definition of truth about which the majority of philosophers agree. ...

The Other manifests in the ethical theory of vegan feminist Carol J. Adams in the form of the absent referent. This refers to a psycho-social detachment which occurs in people who eat meat between the consumer and the slaughtered animal. Hens kept in cramped conditions — the avoidance of animal suffering is the primary motivation of people who become vegans A vegan is a person who avoids the ingestion or use of animal products. ... Feminism is a social theory and political movement primarily informed and motivated by the experience of women. ... Carol J. Adams calls herself a feminist vegetarian author. ... The empty set is one example of the absent referent Absent Referent (sometimes Missing Referent, or Missing Antecedent) is a concept from linguistics, and is the condition of a sign which has an empty, absent, non-existent, paradoxical, hypothetical, supernatural, or undefined referent. ...

The Other in gender studies

Simone De Beauvoir adopted the Hegelian notion of the Other in her description of how male-dominated culture treats woman as the Other in relation to man. The Other has thus become an important concept for studies of the sex-gender system. According to Michael Warner: La Beauvoir redirects here; also see: Beauvoir (disambiguation). ...

the modern system of sex and gender would not be possible without a disposition to interpret the difference between genders as the difference between self and Other ... having a sexual object of the opposite gender is taken to be the normal and paradigmatic form of an interest in the Other or, more generally, others. Since the late 1960s, the word paradigm (IPA: ) has referred to a thought pattern in any scientific discipline or other epistemological context. ...

Thus, according to Warner, Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis hold the heterosexist view that if one is attracted to people of the same gender as one's self, one fails to distinguish self and other, identification and desire. This is a "regressive" or an "arrested" function. He further argues that heteronormativity covers its own narcissist investments by projecting or displacing them on queerness. Sigmund Freud His famous couch Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 - September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, a movement that popularized the theory that unconscious motives control much behavior. ... Jacques Lacan Jacques Lacan (April 13, 1901 – September 9, 1981) was an influential French psychoanalyst as well as a structuralist who based much of his theories on Ferdinand de Saussures theories on language. ... Heterosexism (or heterocentrism or heterosexualism (Corsini, 2002)) is the assumption that everyone or a particular person is heterosexual. ... Heteronormativity is a term used in the discussion of sexual behavior, gender, and society, primarily within the fields of queer theory and gender theory. ... The word queer has traditionally meant strange or unusual, but it is also currently often used in reference to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and asexual communities. ...

De Beauvoir calls the Other the minority, the least favored one and often a woman, when compared to a man because, "for a man represents both the positive and the neutral, as indicated by the common use of man to designate human beings in general; whereas woman represents only the negative, defined by limiting criteria, without reciprocity" (McCann, 33). Betty Friedan supported this thought when she interviewed women and the majority of them identified themselves in their role in the private sphere, rather than addressing their own personal achievements. They automatically identified as the Other without knowing (Colwill). Although the Other may be influenced by a socially constructed society, one can argue that society has the power to change this creation (Haslanger). The concept of Minority and becoming-minor was developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus (1980) and Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature (1986). ... Betty Friedan, 1960 Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 – February 4, 2006) was an American feminist, activist and writer. ...

In effort to dismantle the notion of the Other, Cheshire Calhoun proposed a deconstruction of the word "woman" from a subordinate association and reconstruct it by proving women do not need to be rationalized by male dominance (McCann, 339). This would contribute to the idea of the Other and minimize the hierarchal connotation this word implies.

Edward Said applied the feminist notion of the Other to colonized peoples (specifically, in Said's work, the Middle Easterners and Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular). Edward Wadie Saïd (Arabic: , transliteration: ; 1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003) was a Palestinian-American literary theorist and outspoken Palestinian activist. ... It has been suggested that Benign colonialism be merged into this article or section. ... A map showing countries commonly considered to be part of the Middle East The Middle East is a region comprising the lands around the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. ... Languages Arabic other minority languages Religions Predomiantly Sunni Islam, as well as Shia Islam, Greek Orthodoxy, Greek Catholicism, Alawite Islam, Druzism, Ibadi Islam, and Judaism Footnotes a Mainly in Antakya. ... Palestinian people, or Palestinians are terms used today to refer mainly to Arabic-speaking people with family origins in Palestine. ...

Some other quotations

Rimbaud redirects here. ... Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (IPA: , but usually Anglicized as ;  ) 5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a German philosopher. ... The Gay Science [German: Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (la gaya scienza)], is a book written by Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1882 and followed by a second edition, which was published after the completion of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil, in 1887. ... Saussure Ferdinand de Saussure (pronounced ) (November 26, 1857 – February 22, 1913) was a Geneva-born Swiss linguist whose ideas laid the foundation for many of the significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. ... Calvin Thomas, A.M., LL.D. (1854-1919) was an American scholar who served as professor of Germanic languages and literature at Columbia University. ... Jacques Lacan Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan (April 13, 1901 – September 9, 1981) was a French psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and doctor. ... Jacques Lacan tells of the mirror stage in his essay The Mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience, which was published in English in Écrits: A Selection, first by Alan Sheridan in 1977, and more recently by Bruce Fink in 2002. ... Louis Althusser (October 19, 1918 _ October 23, 1990) was a Marxist philosopher. ... Emmanuel Levinas (January 12, 1906 - December 25, 1995) was a Jewish philosopher originally from Kaunas in Lithuania, who moved to France where he wrote most of his works in French. ... Ethics (from the Ancient Greek Ä“thikos, the adjective of Ä“thos custom, habit), a major branch of philosophy, including genetics is the study of values and customs of a person or group. ... // In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek , genitive : of being (part. ... Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (June 21, 1905 – April 15, 1980), normally known simply as Jean-Paul Sartre (pronounced: ), was a French existentialist philosopher and pioneer, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist and critic. ... For the album by Blondie, see No Exit (album) No Exit is an existentialist play by Jean-Paul Sartre, originally published in French in 1944 as Huis Clos. ... This article is about the play. ...

See also

In philosophy, the subject-object problem arises out of the metaphysics of Hegel. ... Michel Foucault (IPA pronunciation: ) (October 15, 1926 – June 25, 1984) was a French philosopher and historian. ... Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French philosopher, known as the founder of deconstruction. ... Julia Kristeva (Bulgarian: ) (born 24 June 1941) is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, psychoanalyst, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who has lived in France since the mid-1960s. ... Image:J Butler. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... The Otherness is a malevolent force present in several of the novels by F. Paul Wilson. ...


  • Foucault, Michel (1990). The History of Sexuality vol. 1: An Introduction. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage.
  • Derrida, Jacques (1973). Speech and Phenomena and Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs. Trans. David B. Allison. Evanston: Ill.: Northwestern University Press.
  • Kristeva, Julia (1982). Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Butler, Judith (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.
  • Butler, Judith (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex". New York: Routledge.

The term Abjection literally means the state of being cast out. ...


  • Thomas, Calvin, ed. (2000). "Introduction: Identification, Appropriation, Proliferation", Straight with a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of Heterosexuality. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06813-0.
  • Cahoone, Lawrence (1996). From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell.
  • Colwill, Elizabeth. Reader--Wmnst 590: Feminist Thought. KB Books, 2005.
  • Haslanger, Sally. Feminism and Metaphysics: Unmasking Hidden Ontologies. [1]. 11/28/2005.

McCann, Carole. Kim, Seung-Kyung. Calvin Thomas is an American academic who works in the fields of critical theory, modern and postmodern literature and culture. ...

  • Feminist Local and Global Theory Perspectives Reader. Routledge. New York, NY. 2003.
  • Rimbaud, Arthur (1966). "Letter to Georges Izambard", Complete Works and Selected Letters. Trans. Wallace Fowlie. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich (1974). The Gay Science. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage.
  • Saussure, Ferdinand de (1986). Course in General Linguistics. Eds. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye. Trans. Roy Harris. La Salle, Ill.: Open Court.
  • Lacan, Jacques (1977). Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton.
  • Althusser, Louis (1973). Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Trans. Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  • Warner, Michael (). "Homo-Narcissism; or, Heterosexuality", Engendering Men, p.191. Eds. Boone and Cadden.
  • Tuttle, Howard (1996). The Crowd is Untruth, Peter Lang Publishing, ISBN 0-8204-2866-3

Walter Arnold Kaufmann (July 1, 1921 - September 4, 1980) was a 20th-century Jewish German philosopher, scholar, and poet. ...

External links

Philosophy Portal

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