The first thing we are going to do is determine the etymological origin of the term alterity that we are now dealing with. In this sense, we have to establish that it comes from Latin, specifically from the word “alteritas”, which is the fruit of the sum of two components: “alter”, which can be translated as “other”, and the suffix “-dad”, which it is used to indicate “quality”.
According to DigoPaul, otherness is the condition of being another. The word alter refers to the “other” from the perspective of the “I”. The concept of alterity, therefore, is used in a philosophical sense to name the discovery of the conception of the world and the interests of an “other”.
Otherness must be understood from a division between an “I” and an “other”, or between a “we” and a “they”. The “other” has different customs, traditions and representations from those of the “I”: that is why it is part of “them” and not of “us”. Otherness implies putting yourself in the place of that “other”, alternating your own perspective with that of others.
In other words, otherness is a good sign of interest in understanding each other. Hence, it is in charge of promoting both dialogue and agreements and even peace paths to any possible conflict.
Precisely because of all that it is and what it means, normally when speaking of otherness another concept also comes to mind, that of otherness. Sometimes they are used as synonyms, however, the latter we have to say that it is that term that is used to express that when a person is having a conversation with another what he does is take over it. How does it do that? Using common phrases like “if I were you, what I would do would be…”.
Precisely because of what they mean, because of the values that otherness and otherness express and transmit, they are used in certain fields of study such as, for example, History or Anthropology. And it is that they serve to understand the positions of some parts or others in any event or fact.
This means that otherness represents a will for understanding that fosters dialogue and fosters peaceful relations. When a Jewish man establishes a loving relationship with a Catholic woman, otherness is essential to understand and accept the differences between the two. On the other hand, if a little otherness is registered, the relationship will be impossible since the two worldviews will only collide with each other and there will be no space for understanding.
Otherness can also be understood on a broader level. The meeting between two countries or two peoples implies putting different ways of life face to face. If there is a will to alterity, integration may be harmonious, since each people will respect the beliefs of the other. That dialogue, on the other hand, will enrich both. On the other hand, if there is no otherness, the strongest people will dominate the other and impose their beliefs. This happened, for example, from the arrival of the European conquerors to America.
Some scholars, such as the case of Adrián Vázquez Fernández, have considered that there are basically three types of alterity: political alterity, ethical alterity and ethical-political alterity.