Alterity is the aspect of otherness that is separate from, opposed to, or unassimilable to the self. It is the opposite of identity, sameness or resemblance.
In the literature of continental philosophy, religion, aesthetics, phenomenology, feminist theory, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology, the word “alterity” is now widely used.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a romantic poet, utilized the idea of Alterity for the first time in a formal sense. He did this by establishing a synthesis between the Holy Trinity’s oneness and distinctiveness via the usage of divine Alterity and its counterpart, divine selfhood.
This alternative word for “otherness” is used in postmodernist literature. Children must learn to discriminate between the self and others to organize human impressions of the world. It is possible to go even farther and categorize whole groups of individuals as “other” and hence not entirely human, after which we may project onto that group the traits we despise and reject in ourselves. Prejudice and stereotyping occur when humans attribute characteristics to individuals by placing them in such groups.
The criticisms of experimental research’s limits and the shaping of relational senses that emerge in the therapeutic situation may be summed up as the implications for psychological practice presented by Alterity. The constraints of experimental design in psychology for learning about study participants have been argued using Emmanuel Levinas idea of Alterity as a locus of ethical responsibility.
As Western psychology moves toward more political responsibility, economic monitoring, and demands for evidence-based procedures, outcome evaluation, therapy manualization, and fidelity metrics, Alterity offers a critical ethical counterweight and criticism and it considers it has authority over the person.
The contradictory Alterity of the “madman” during nineteenth-century court proceedings that exonerated people from criminal conduct was discussed by Michel Foucault in History of Madness. In their state of insanity, the individual seemed “other” and was no longer recognizably themselves, yet their manifestations of insanity revealed the “truth” of who they were as an “alienated” person.
To challenge the assumed dominance of male normativity and for Chinese women to reaffirm traditional indigenous values against growing Chinese feminism, feminist authors in China have turned to poststructuralist conceptions of feminine Alterity.