Somanaut's Blog

Just another weblog

What’s an Umwelt? And why does it matter to you?

“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” Werner Heisenberg, physicist, and author of the uncertainty principle.

An “Umwelt” is the perceptual world of a being (person or animal). It’s a bulky concept, but easy to understand. Think about what a dog can hear or smell, which includes so much more than we humans can sense. But dogs are color blind, and they can’t read this. You can  probably see in color, and you definitely can read. Each species has powers of sensing and perceiving that are unique. And so does each person.

What we see is determined by how we look, and our perceptual faculties. How we look is based in how we move, because your eyes have to point toward something for you to see it.


Someone who hikes sees a different world than someone who is house bound.

Once you know you have an Umwelt, you can act to change the range and flavor of it. Some actions are simple. If I clean my windows, I see the outside more clearly. If I open the door, I can smell the air outside. Noticing how these choices impact my emotions can create and accumulation of experiences. From there I can deliberately change how I am sensing the world, and how I am feeling about life.

Recognizing you have an Umwelt is a critical part of maturing. Acting to shape it is one of the most powerful skills an adult human can possess.


July 4, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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