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Related: difference - identity - self
The German philosopher Hegel was 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. [Nov 2006]
"Je est un autre" [I is other]. --Rimbaud
"Hell is other people". --Sartre
The other or constitutive other is a key concept in psychology and philosophy where it is often considered to be what defines or even constitutes the self (see self (psychology), self (philosophy), and self-concept) and other phenomena and cultural units: "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." (Cahoone 1996). Emmanuel Levinas, on the other hand, saw apprehension of the other as the basis for ethics, and as a limit on ontology.
The poet Arthur Rimbaud may be the earliest to express this idea: "Je est un autre" [I is other]. Friedrich Nietzsche, in The Gay Science phrased it thus: "You are always a different person." Ferdinand de Saussure described language as, in Calvin Thomas' words, a "differential system without positive terms". Jacques Lacan argued that ego-formation occurs through mirror-stage misrecognition, and his theories where applied to politics by Althusser. Also see Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva, and Judith Butler. (Thomas 2000)
According to Warner (1990) "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." 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, and is "regressive" or an "arrested" function. He further argues that heteronormativity covers its own narcissist investments by projecting or displacing them on queerness. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other [May 2005]
"L'enfer, c'est les autres"
During the 1940s and 1950s Sartre's ideas remained much in vogue, and existentialism became a favoured philosophy of the beatnik generation. Sartre's views were counterposed to those of Albert Camus in the popular imagination. In 1948, the Vatican placed his complete works on the Index of prohibited books. Most of his plays are richly symbolic and serve as a means of conveying his philosophy. The best-known, Huis-clos (No Exit), contains the famous line: "L'enfer, c'est les autres", usually translated as "Hell, is the others" (as in Other people). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Paul_Sartre#Sartre_and_literature [May 2005]
see also: Sartre - hell
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