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MODES OF BEING


Each of us habitually filters information from within our particular umwelt by means of these modes of being.  These modes provide us with sorts of mental categories by which we sort out things and experiences. They're shaped by the particular qualities that each one of us notices based upon our particular way (or mode) of experiencing the world. 

Ralph, the artist, may experience San Francisco as a unique collection of colorful buildings, clattering cable cars and enticing fragrances--while Carl, the engineer, may be focused upon analyzing the probability that certain bridges, roads and buildings will withstand the next earthquake. Even though Ralph won't necessarily choose to always perceive the city from Carl's perspective--nor Carl from his--each has a valuable contribution to make to the other. By learning something about each other's modes of being and learning the language for communicating these, the artist and the engineer can work together more effectively.

Some people seem to be stuck in one particular mode of being; others seem to have the ability to move comfortably within more than one mode. Since it is these modes of being that determine how we understand and communicate with the world, it's useful to learn about them and to gain skill at using each one.  As you take the time to do this throughout the rest of this section, pay attention to the kinds of words and phrases that most appeal to you and to those that irritate or bore you as well. Begin to build an awareness of your own perceptual strengths and weakness because, once you become aware, your options for engaging your intelligence increase.

What is a mode of being?

Jacob von Uexküll was a German biologist who lived between 1864 and 1944. He created the term, umwelt, which stands for the concept of modes of being as these apply to different species. The term, umwelt, refers to the
REALITY of the world as it is perceived by a particular organism interacting with its environment. Thus, a bee's experience of reality is greatly different from a dog's because these species not only operate within different environments but also have very different ways of experiencing these. In addition, a specific bee's umwelt also differs somewhat from another specific bee's umwelt, since every individual organism has at least one aspect of its existence that makes it different from all others.

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