Otherness has been a subject of the utmost relevance for continental philosophy since the beginning of the 20th century, constituting what might be characterized as an otherness turn. Otherness is here understood as the awareness that one has that other beings or things have their own separate beingness that is not subsumed within oneself. Its essential role in human relations permits the creation of a critical perspective of analysis, a “lens of otherness.” Applying this lens to perennialism up through its latest iterations reveals some problematic aspects of this approach. By contrast, participatory thought may be a more “otherness compliant” alternative to perennialism. Whereas perennialism can be seen as being geared toward theoretical unification, participatory approaches are arguably guided by an ethos of otherness. Otherness is thus advanced as a relevant aspect in the debate on perennialism, and participatory thought is proposed as a more viable philosophical frame for transpersonal studies.
Perennialism through the lens of otherness.