Week 7-Umwelt-Gindy Nagabayashi

When guest speaker Siddharth Ramakrishnan mentioned Umwelt, it caught my attention. Umwelt, as he described is a “self-centered world” of organisms. An organism is only going to be conscious of what is relevant to its survival. This idea prompted me to do further research.

John Deely wrote in “Umwelt”, “Each biological life-form, by reason of its distinctive bodily constitution (its ‘biological heritage’, as we may say), is suited only to certain parts and aspects of the vast physical universe. And when this ‘suitedness to’ takes the bodily form of cognitive organs, such as are our own senses, or the often quite different sensory modalities discovered in other lifeforms, then those aspects and only those aspects of the physical environment which are proportioned to those modalities become ‘objectified’, that is to say, made present not merely physically but cognitively as well.”

In other words, an organism’s body form will influence how it experiences its physical environment. This got me thinking about the human umwelt. People have evolved from believing the world was flat to now exploring space, the ocean, and cellular organisms. Unlike other organisms, humans are unique in our ability to explore outside of our Umwelt.

The irony is that even with this in mind, there are different umwelts that people experience due to the accessibility of education and different opportunities. For a person in rural Kenya, their umwelt differs from a person from New York City, which brings up the question, are the themes of the art and music from people around the world drastically different due to their environment?

No. Looking at the themes artists and musicians explore from around the world, often express love, family, despair, loneliness, hope, Mother Nature, and society in their works. It can be said that the mediums used to express these themes may be different, but overall the messages are not.

I found an interesting video Playing for Change: Songs Around the World “Stand By Me”

Taking the classic song “Stand by Me” originally by Ben E. King, the group PlayingforChange has different musicians from around the world add their twist. It’s a beautiful piece of work. This piece of work suggests that although people from different parts of the world have a different perspectives of their world, the issues they address in art and music are not so different.

PlayingforChange: Song Around the World \”Stand by Me\”

http://web.archive.org/web/20060221134707/http://www.ut.ee/SOSE/deely.htm

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One Response to “Week 7-Umwelt-Gindy Nagabayashi”

  1. admin says:

    I don’t necessarily agree with you on the fact that people in different contexts use different media but similar messages/themes. I would say that they use different media and different messages. But this is up for discussion. However, well done for linking to the work of Deely in semiotics. 8.5/10

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