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Who are the Others?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Who are the Others?

Post by Tamminen » December 4th, 2016, 4:31 am

Is there a problem with the being of the others? Heidegger has his concept of 'Mitdasein' and the idea of man falling into the averageness of 'das Man'. Sartre has his concept of 'the look' and says that there is a basic conflict between me and the other. Many great philosophers have seen the other as a problem that needs clarification. However, I am not so much interested in the phenomenological aspects of otherness, but in the metaphysical problem of foreign experiences: how is it possible that there are experiences that I never experience, so that they remain absent for me for ever. Or is it possible? My intuition tells me that all experiences are in the end my experiences so that there is a genuine symmetry of experiences, in the way 'TylerVo' also seems to think under the title “Could Separateness and Death be Illusions?” It is possible, of course, that my intuition tells me lies.

What follows are my thought fragments on the subject, written in the aphoristic style I sometimes like to use. They are closely connected to my ideas of time and death, which I have presented under the topic “What happens to us when we die?”


Others are series of experiences, individuals.

Other individuals are related to the individual that I am at present. If I did not exist, there would be no others either.

The other is the other member of a relation which has me as one member. And because the relation is symmetrical, I am also the other. So I am an other to myself.

I am in temporal and spatial relation to others.

The others are in the world, but also in my past or future.

Consciousness is my consciousness. It is a flow of experiences, changing of the present to a new present. Also the experiences of others belong to this flow, but because they are not my present experiences, they must be experiences that I have had in the past or experiences that I shall have in the future.

I have this feeling and I know that also others have feelings. A feeling is however something that is present in the double meaning of the word as 'here' and 'now', the content of my existence as I am experiencing it. It is not meaningful to speak of a feeling that I am not feeling. But because the feelings that I meet in the world in others are not in the same way present as my present feeling is, they can only be feelings that I have had or shall have in those ”places” in time where others are.

If I did not experience the experiences of the others, there would be experiences without experiencing.

It is impossible to think of an experience which exists but which I do not experience.

An experience that I do not experience is a being that is not.

I am an individual that is composed of the experiences between my birth an death, that is, the experiences to which my present experience has a memory relation or which have a memory relation to my present experience. Other individuals are composed of experiences before my birth or after my death, that is, experiences to which my experiences have no memory relation and which have no memory relation to my experiences.

Existence realizes itself by fragments of time that are temporally and spatially related to each other.

That I am here and now, is a timeless truth. The present is a unique content mediated by the world, which, as it changes to another unique content, constitutes, mediated by memory, the unique series of presences that we call the individual. Individuals are series of experiences that, separated from each other by the loss of memory we call death, change to each other constituting on one hand the endless series of presences we call time, and on the other hand, as they meet each other and themselves as material objects in space, that totality of events that we call the universe.

I meet myself in the others. This is not a metaphor.

When I meet an other, I meet a moment in the endless series of moments, at the present moment of which I meet the other, and at a past or future moment of which I have been or shall be the one who meets me at the same meeting event.

A and B see each other simultaneously in their common time in their common world. But in the time that connects these two experiences to each other as present experiences, one happens before the other.

The other whom I meet am I, who meets an other: me.

I know that others have experiences and I know that the other is an I, but something prevents me from seeing what grammar expresses: the I whom I meet am I.

In these sentences 'I' does not refer to an individual but to the subject. This way of using the word intends to express the view that there is only one subject, and that the subject is always that which I am.

When I speak to an other, 'I' refers to the individual that I am, and 'you' refers to another individual. That there is only one subject, has no expression in ordinary language.

That only I exist, does not mean that the others do not exist. 'I' and 'the other' refer to the same point, but this identity realizes itself only through death. In life it does not express itself. When I live with others, the others are only others.

The word 'I' has two meanings: 'the subject which has these experiences' and 'the individual that has these experiences'. When I speak, these meanings overlap so that I speak simultaneously as an individual and as a timeless subject. When someone else speaks, I think this someone is an individual that is foreign to me and whose inner world is closed from me, and I do not see that 'I' really refers to one point only: the present that changes its content and meets its past or future in the world, and to the past or future of which 'I' can also refer.

When I use language I presuppose that there are in the world other individuals who understand me. However, language does not easily express the deeper meaning of the existence of others: my temporal relation to them.

If we try, using language, to get closer to the deepest meaning of our existence, language comes to its frontiers illuminating reality with its paradoxes.

Only by traveling outside of language can we see into the nucleus of existence.

When I speak, I speak to others, and therefore I speak of things that are common to us in the world, and of myself as an individual, in relation to others. This is the region of language. But only a slight move, a change of perspective, opens up a new land, where things that are common to us become private, a land which therefore stays outside of language. Seeing this land reveals the deep union that has always been between us, and when walking on this land we understand, for the first time, the meaning of our existence.

We have asked who the others are. We have also asked what will be after death and what was before birth. The answer to both questions is the same: after my death I shall be an other and before my birth I was an other.

The thought that the other whom I meet am I, is, when thoroughly understood, clear but embarrassing.

The existence of others is self-evident for us, because it belongs to the basic structures of our existence. We do not usually think what a strange phenomenon it is.

When we communicate with others, we do not understand who they are. But we shall perhaps understand it some day in the silence of a forest, when our thoughts decide to start conquering the frontiers.

Someone got an insight once that Earth is a globe, and now we all understand it, although our senses tell us something else. In the same way the mysteries of death and otherness will be solved: everything just settles down and reality reveals to us its ”geometrical” form.

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Re: Who are the Others?

Post by Burning ghost » December 5th, 2016, 3:43 am

I find it funny that you say you are not interested in the phenomenology then proceed to do phenomenology!

Heidegger is not the be all and end all of phenomenology. His concern was hermeneutics for the most part.

The "other" is the "self" placed as a duration. You know yourself because you se yourself as changing and as an agent of limitation. You bodily are able to place yourself in an "as if" position based on experience. You are habitualised to your environment, the heart of which is given to you through bodily sense.

I understand what you mean. When I speak to you now I do so through my being not your being. The premise of self cannot be divided from th e premise of other. Also language gives gravitas to our intentionality "of the world" (being-in-the-world).

This is certainlynnot an easy topic for people to grasp so be prepared for numerous misunderstandings.
AKA badgerjelly

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Re: Who are the Others?

Post by Cuthbert » December 16th, 2016, 12:08 pm

"It is impossible to think of an experience which exists but which I do not experience. An experience that I do not experience is a being that is not."

I'm thinking of Buzz Aldrin's experience of walking on the moon. But I've never walked on the moon. So it's possible. In what way is it not possible? Or in what way is my thinking of Buzz Aldrin's experience not a case of thinking of an experience which I do not experience?

It's true that my thinking about Buzz Aldrin is also an experience and it is all mine. You are now thinking about it if you read and understand the last sentence.

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Re: Who are the Others?

Post by Tamminen » December 17th, 2016, 4:23 pm


The sentence you cited is perhaps somewhat misleading. Of course you, as an individual, can think of experiences of other individuals. But I tried to present a metaphysical idea of a deeper kind of subjectivity which is common to all of us and to which I refer when I use the phrase 'my experiences'. This idea presupposes a certain kind of transmigration theory and is based on a personal insight, so I did not anticipate in the first place that it would be warmly welcomed, because it surely seems crazy at first sight and surely presupposes same kinds of insights, true or false, as I have had, if it wants to claim understanding. So what I meant was that when thoroughly thought over, it is impossible to think of foreign experiences that are not experiences of this common subjectivity which the first person pronoun contains as its deepest meaning.

But this is metaphysics, of course, and a hypothesis that is very difficult to verify. Perhaps the only way is that someone happens to come across same kinds of thoughts in his/her philosophical meditations.

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Re: Who are the Others?

Post by Cuthbert » December 20th, 2016, 8:26 am

Sure, Tamminen, and I don't mean to sound uncharitable. "Only by traveling outside of language can we see into the nucleus of existence." I think there's some insight in that - but it does mean that when we come back from our travels we cannot give a coherent report of what we have seen. That is because coherence, sense, truth etc are all features of language and on holidays outside we are not equipped to carry that useful luggage. "For philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday." - Wittgenstein, PI

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Re: Who are the Others?

Post by Gertie » December 22nd, 2016, 7:01 am

I think it's possible to come up with a coherent way of putting things together.
Here's how I think of it.

Subjective experiencing exists in this moment - this the only certainty.
Everything else is inferred from the nature of that subjective experiencing.

Its nature is in the form of sensory perceptions, sensations, emotions, memory,
the thinky narrative voice which gives it a coherent context, etc. It is
experienced as a flickering almost simultaneous flow, a unified field, moving
through space and time, which gives a sense of a unified self, a Me.
Everything which isn't subjective experience is inferred (uncertain) and other
(external, what the experience is 'about').

But we build models of Out There based on the nature of the subjective
experience, and when we assume our perceptions are giving us real information
about a world 'out there', the models are generally coherent and predictable,
suggesting the information, if flawed and incomplete, is about a real external
world. Including our own bodies and brains, and those of other people too. All
inferred, but a useful model which crucially works, where-as acting as if
nothing but subjective experience exists and the world is only imagined, doesn't

We communicate with other people, treat them as entities much like ourselves,
based on their similarity, and on it working. But it can never be known if
they exist, if they have their own inherently private subjective experiences
too, or if they do, if what I call green is what they call red.

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Re: Who are the Others?

Post by Tamminen » February 2nd, 2017, 9:55 am

Reasonable thinking, Gertie, but my point was very much like Nietzsche's when he said something like this: "If there were God, how could I stand the fact that I am not God?" My version is: "How can I stand the fact that I am not the Other?" My point is, however, more logical than emotional, but perhaps that was also Nietzsche's idea.

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Re: Who are the Others?

Post by Cuthbert » February 7th, 2017, 4:42 am

It's perhaps occasionally irksome not to be God - but I am absolutely and continually delighted not to be Nietzsche.

Actually it's not not being God that's really the problem: it's not being able to create things out of apparently nothing like God, in particular babies. Most of this God-envy is merely womb-envy.

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Re: Who are the Others?

Post by Tamminen » September 8th, 2017, 6:59 am

On Being and Otherness:

Being is. Non-being is not. These are tautologies.
So there is being.

Being is being of something.
Being is temporal.

That being is temporal means that there is something now and then there is something now. Being is succession of presents.

There must have been the first present, because if there were a present before each present, there could not be this present.

There cannot be a last present, because that would mean non-being, which would be self-contradictory.

So being is a series of presents with a beginning and no end.

But what is this 'something' of being?

In fact it seems that there cannot be anything, because there seems to be no reason for anything.

Nevertheless, there is something, as we see.

That something which is the content of the present points towards two directions: otherness and the past.

Otherness means the revelation of the subject-object relation. The other is an object and I am a subject. I come to the stage for the first time. But the other is also a subject.

My present is a synthesis of my relations to the other and to my past. As long as the past is involved in the synthesis, I remain the same individual. So memory defines an individual. Death is forgetting.

There is a symmetric relation between me and the other. I am also the other and the other is also I.

My relation to the other is the world. The world is material. The world is the concrete realization of my relation to the other.

There are many others, as we see. And because of the symmetric relation between us the world is in fact my concrete relation to myself.

So I am the others and the others are I. But because I am now I and not an other, the others must be in my past or in my future. This means that we must understand in a new way the relation between subjective time and physical time.

All this means that the ontology of being is a combination of solipsism and transmigration of the self or I.

Now we see the rationality of the 'something'. The world explains itself from within. Being is really nothing but my relation to myself and the 'something' is the tautological 'being is' or 'I am' itself. But the realization of this requires the whole universe with all its structures and evolutionary processes.

If being ever becomes transparent to itself remains an open question. We have always dreamed of an everlasting heaven, paradise or nirvana, but maybe the logic of being does not fulfill our dreams. Perhaps the myth of Sisyphus gives us a more realistic picture of our existential situation.

Nevertheless, all we have is the future.

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