The concept of other worlds reflects the fact that life can evolve in many ways, not just one destined path. If we think of cultures as a plethora of potentially-given psycho-physical pathways (from our genes to our behavior, the environments we create to our symbolic rituals) of human evolution then cultures represent the ‘Other Self’ to us. Cultures remind us that, given different circumstances, our very identity could have developed entirely differently. Cultural diversity represents both options as well as dead-ends, such as e.g., the caste-system in India. My friend Joachim Peter correctly emphasizes the autobiographical reflection that any culture casts within us once we turn towards it.
Saul A. Kripke differentiated between non-rigid versus rigid designators across worlds. So which are the rigid designators across cultures evoked by the human condition? At the same time we may call into question the premise that a physical description can ever be complete (Kripke, Naming and Necessity, 1980) since materialism exists to a large degree in its potentialis, its evolving diversity of possibilities and probabilities. We could furthermore postulate that there is an ontological vagueness (Humberto Vale) in any definition and observation of material reality simply because no frame of reference can ever be hold in totality.
When we travel we have the choice of either experiencing new pathways through our known cosmos, which is the safe way, or we can try to take over the perspective of the Other Self, which happens necessarily once we live in a new culture permanently and create a hybrid identity for ourselves. Cultures are loaded with tribal self-defense mechanisms, so any such assimilation and osmosis will necessarily be evoking conflicts, internally and externally.
At the end only our performative action, our personal involvement and resulting experiences can accommodate the inner voyage within the outer one. There is a fine line between breakdown and regress and restructuring of identity and progress, simply because progress comes as an empty utopian promise and regress builds on the emotional backbone of the road well-travelled. What is the threshold for openness that we are willing to pay?