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Alterity

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Introduction

Alterity is a term now common in the literature of continental philosophy, theology, ethics, phenomenology, feminist theory, queer theory, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, psychology, and cultural anthropology. Alterity means, literally, “otherness” or “being otherwise” and at times is used simply to mean “difference.” It is derived from the Latin alter, translated “otherwise.”

Definition

Alterity is the state or quality of otherness that is opposite to, distinct from, or inassimilable by the self: the obverse to identity or sameness. The irony of attempting a definition of alterity has been noted for its lack of objective fixity, its connotation of being categorically different from the self, and its significance as designating that which necessarily evades full comprehension, definite knowledge, or material possession. Functionally, then, though alterity demarcates the limits of self and knowledge, allusions to alterity do not offer greater understanding or illumination of...

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Huett, S., Goodman, D. (2014). Alterity. In: Teo, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_13

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