Umwelt (502 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Roy Elveton (Carleton College)
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The concept of the Umwelt plays a central role in Martin Heidegger’s (1889-1976) celebrated account of human existence in his major work, Being and Time (1927). The Umwelt, variously translated as “environment” or “surrounding world”, represents the everyday world of human activity: its cares, concerns and ends. It is best understood not as the world that is merely in our immediate vicinity, perceivable by a detached observer, but as the ordered arrangement of equipment and tools that is directly accessible to human practical activities and aims. What “surrounds” us in this sense is what is practically necessary, available and desirable with respect …

Citation: Elveton, Roy. "Umwelt". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 April 2005 [, accessed 26 October 2021.]

1542 Umwelt 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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