The argument concerning the otherness of the other is one that cannot be explained clearly without consideration of various factors that make this distinction between oneself and the other. However, as Hyde says, “the otherness of the other is an ontological part of our being.” This implies that otherness is inseparable from the individual being or that being can only be distinguished in the presence of the other. In accordance with the arguments developed by Hyde, separation of the other from oneself comes with the recognition of discourses that occur within the person in form of the conscience from those that go on intra- personally (34). This goes hand in hand with the premise that otherness displays itself through the presence and validity of other people or things separate from others. It is also this presence of others that is built into communicative action.
The justification of the otherness of the other comes more clearly through the explanation that discourses can either occur internally or intra-personally. From this perspective, it can be argued that communication in itself is already founded on the presence of the other hence the distinction that comes automatically without need for proof. Were it that ‘otherness’ was a concept that stemmed from speculation, even communicative action between self and the other would be based on the same speculation. The temporal and spatial being also helps to further explain the ontological feature of the ‘otherness’. This is based on the fact that the ability to separate spatial and temporal positioning of oneself from those of others is an indication of the imminent existence of the other. It is this distinction in of self from the other and the fact that the other is inevitably present that calls for the implication that god is indeed present.
From the unavoidable presence of the other, it can be considered that the other is a divine presence that can neither be assumed nor wished away. In page 35, Hyde explains the existence of the other versus the existence of the self and the conscience that directs the ethos and gives form to all the discourse that occurs within the self. As Hyde says, otherness cannot simply be explained materially through visual appeal due to its internal and metaphysical presence that pushes the self towards a more spiritual realm. It is this foundation of the other that forces one to recognize and resign to the omnipresence of God. In support of this argument, the otherness of the other is such that it implores our ethos, drives the conscience of the self towards decision making. The presence of the conscience and the distinction from the other makes it difficult to control one’s life without satisfactory inquiring from the self. Thus, existence in itself can be likened to a wide yet confined space. It can be associated to freedom in which one is compelled to act within certain constraints.
The directions given by the conscience in acting in line with the needs of the other and with the compulsion of the ethos confine the self to a certain path from which one cannot deviate. Deviating from such a path comes with greater challenge in identifying the self as the conscience persistently speaks to the mind. This makes the self more confused and convinced that their existence is uncertain due to fluctuations in the perceptions developed in the mind. As the conscience convinces one that the other exists today and should be treated in a certain manner, so does it push one to go by a path that one may not desire to choose on their own. Because of this, there is conflict between the self and the conscience, leading to uncertainty in whether the one is the conscience or the other is the conscience that speaks in the self.
The certainty of the otherness coupled with the uncertainty of the existence of the self makes people to construct their own social spaces. Hyde explains this effectively through exemplification of religion as that which causes the coming together of the ethos in line with the discourses of different consciences. However, Hyde also argues that the use of religion only to explain the origin of things that one finds inexplicable can be fallacious (36). The only way to true religion is to use God’s presence as an explanation of all the amazing things including the awesomeness of the uncertainty of existence. The uncertainty comes in two ways in that existence is limited temporally as well as spatially. Creating social settings where collaborative morality can be cultivated is synonymous to social association through aspects such as religion, which not only bring us together through belief in God but also brings people together based on the compulsions of their consciences to the commitment of ethical acts. Through this, acknowledgement that is recognized to have stemmed from the acts of Saint Augustine can also come through (Hyde 36). Through common convictions and practices, it becomes easier to share civilities and live beyond the self to accept otherness as inevitable yet unifying. It is only in this way that the discourse on the otherness of the other can be made easier to understand.
Hyde, Michael. Ethics, rhetoric and discourse. In Cheney, G., May, S. and Munshi, D. (Eds.) the Handbook of Communication Ethics: Information Censorship. Routledge, Taylor & Francis, 2011.