Worlding was first popularized by Heidegger in Being and Time (1927). He 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).
Eighty years after Being and Time, worlding has evolved from its Heideggerian origin in “Dasein’s being” towards a new horizon of “ontological Design” (Fry, 1999); from the tangible “thinging of things” (Heidegger, 1971) to the intangible “televisualizing” (Fry, 1999) and “synthetic reality gaming” (Castronova, 2007). Wordling has been appropriated many times over, signifying: economic ontology (Thrift, 2008); imperialist processes and the colonial inscription of textuality (Spivak, 1985, 1990); everyday feminist international politics (Pettman, 1996); violences of heteropatriarchy and heteronormativity (Fadem, 2005); proprioception, kinesthesia and touch (Manning, 2007); geopolitical classifications of first, second, third and fourth worlds (OWNO, 2010); first, second and third waves of societal transformation (Toffler, 1980; Doerr, 2010); globalization (de Beer, 2004); global warring (Fry, 1999); prayer (Detweiler, 1995); secularization (Miller, 2009); enfleshment of God in the world (Hemming, 1998); right reciprocity between nature, humans and more-than-humans (Kohak, 1984; Abram, 1996); the socio-biological complexity of human extinction (Costa, 2010); situated practices of cultural studies (Wilson & Connery, 2007); enculturation of true craftsmanship (Risatti, 2007); the aesthetic realization of visual-musical works in new media culture (Rickert & Salvo, 2006); connecting beings together through online social networks (Tech Crunch Network, 2010); design-driven transformation of everyday life by everyday people (Berger, 2008); doing good design for sustainability and social justice (Berman, 2009); growth, development and change by design thinking (Brown, 2009); and designerly ways of teaching and learning (Rusnak, 2010).