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You won’t find the term Worlding in any dictionary, even though the term has been in use for nearly a century. Martin Heidegger popularized the neologism in his 1927 Being and Time to mean “being-in-the-world.” The idea was to use a verb signifying something ongoing and generative, which could not be reduced to either a philosophical state or a scientific materiality. Since then “worlding” has appeared dozens of times in philosophy, politics, cultural studies, and technology studies.  The word has been appropriated, contested, but never quite pinned down––and so remains a floating signifier. Linguists have taught us that terms like “worlding” work less as fixed essences than as mediators of differences among the utterances and concepts around them.   But this undetermined character hardly makes “worlding” innocent, deriving as it does from a noun referencing concepts of origins, boundaries, ethnicities, governance, and even consciousness itself.

  • You may want to further research Heidegger’s notion of “being-in-the-world.” I believe a co-term is Dasein, but not worlding. Heidegger turned the noun (world) into the active verb (worlding), a gerundive and generative process of world making, world becoming and (as he puts it) world “bringing-near.” For Heidegger, worlding is always meaning giving and already ongoing (i.e. never not worlding); worlding is how we experience a world as familiar; worlding is a determination of Dasein’s being (wherein the world belongs to Daseins’s existential constitution); worlding offers measurable standards of being (both authentic and inauthentic); and worlding is an ongoing process of the thinging world. In Heidegger’s work, wordling is a difficult negotiation without a tidy definition. Its multifarious and assembling character does not just continue or not end – it is deliberately unmade, a bringing-to-truth that is a disclosing into its own of the “nearest of all nearing that nears” (i.e., there will always be more worlding to take account of). There is not an essentialist, fundamentally superior or universal understanding of worlding that is wholly attainable (i.e., there will always be diverse perspectives and ever more primordial possibilities to consider). Worlding is always already a complex and dynamic assemblage of ever-renewing realities, sensations and perceptions through which we must constantly work our way through to hold open “the Open of the world” (Heidegger, 1971,“The Origin of the Work of Art,” p.45).

    Heidegger’s (1971) worlding and thinging are inextricably intertwined for without things that thing, there is no worlding – the thinging of the thing is the worlding of the world: “The world presences by worlding. That means: the world’s worlding cannot be explained by anything else nor can it be fathomed through anything else. This impossibility does not lie in the inability of our human thinking to explain and fathom in this way. Rather, the inexplicable and unfathomable character of the world’s worlding lies in this, that causes and grounds remain unsuitable for the world’s worlding. As soon as human cognition here calls for an explanation, it fails to transcend the world’s nature, and falls short of it” (The Thing, p.179-80). Importantly, Heidegger stresses that worlding is not of our own making, but rather a matter of responsiveness to particular things: “If we let the thing be present in its thinging from out of the worlding world, then we are thinking of the thing as thing. Taking thought in this way, we let ourselves be concerned by the thing’s worlding being. Thinking in this way, we are called by the thing as the thing. In the strict sense of the German word bedingt, we are the be-thinged, the conditioned ones” (The Thing, p.181).

    Heidegger’s (1971) “worlding of the world” is always already revealed within the mirror-play of “the fourfold as One” (das Geviert) wherein the four mirrors of earth, heaven, divinity, and mortality are everywhere reflecting the presence of each other, happening together, enfolded as a unified fourfold-whole: “By a primal oneness, the four – earth and sky, divinities and mortals –belong together in one” (Building Dwelling Thinking, p.149). As such, worlding is a dynamic interplay of referential responsiveness to the immensely dense “fourfold as One” network of associations, in which someone or something has a multitude of possibilities, locations or places to continue to be what it always already is (i.e., its worldliness).

    OK, I’m just submitting a wakeful glimpse of Heidegger’s wonder that is worlding in the worlds in and around us: “May world in its worlding be the nearest of all nearing that nears, as it brings the truth of Being near to [wo/man’s] essence, and so gives [wo/man] to belong to the disclosing bringing-to-pass that is a bringing into its own” (The Turning, 1971, p.49).


    7:13 pm

  • Wonderful to receive this historical perspective on Heidegger’s 1920s views. While the term “worlding” has been used in dozens of different ways since then, aspects of this early thinking remain precient as we strive to formlate future worlds and possibilities. Thank-you PJ Rusnak.


    7:38 am

  • […] que atribuímos a estas coisas é considerado como o que nos distingue como seres-no-mundo (worldings); enquanto uma vida dedicada a um ideal é alguma evidência de religião. Mas tal visão é, em […]

  • […] , neologismo de Martin Heidegger ‘being in the world’, cuya idea -según David Trend  – surgía como un verbo para signficar algo ‘orgánico, autogenerativo y en […]

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  • You write: “In Heidegger’s work, wordling is a difficult negotiation without a tidy definition.” I like that. I agree.

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