Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Relational Reflection

Lived other (communality or relationality) is the lived relation we maintain with others in the interpersonal space that we share with them.


As we meet others, we approach them in a corporeal way: through a handshake or by gaining an impression of the other person in the way that he or she is physically present to us. Even if we learn about another person only indirectly (by letter, telephone, or book) we often already have formed a physical impression of the person which later may get confirmed or negated when we find out, to our surprise, that the person looks very alike or different from the way we expected. As we meet the other we are able to develop a conversational relation which allows us to transcend our selves. In a larger existential sense human beings have searched in this experience of the other, the communal, the social for a sense of purpose in life, meaningfulness, grounds for living, as in the religious experience of the absolute Other, God.