Animals in the same ecosystem pick up on different environmental signals. In the blind and deaf world of the tick, the important signals are temperature and the odor of butyric acid. For the black ghost knifefish, it’s electrical fields. For the echolocating bat, it’s air-compression waves. The small subset of the world that an animal is able to detect is its umwelt. The bigger reality, whatever that might mean, is called the umgebung
There are many fascinating consequences to the umwelt: First each individual species assumes that it’s umwelt is in fact perception of reality, rather than a tiny slice of it. For instance humans can see only a tiny range of the electromagnetic spectrum ( a trillionth), The vast sea of electromagnetic energy we live in is moving freely around us and through us and is virtually undetectable. Our entire perceptual apparatus is but a thin eggshell of the full spectrum. Our lives are surfed almost entirely on an ultra thin ocean of human visible light and audible sound.
Discovering we do not have perceptual access to most of the world that we live in – e.g. understanding that there is an umwelt – is profoundly amazing in itself. Humans might be the only animal capable of seeing it’s own living patterns – the ability to see itself seeing.
As a result, we understand there must be undiscovered dimensions, forces, realities, worlds inside other worlds, parallel realities, unimaginable realms. And although we can’t directly access these , we can build channels and technology that can start to extend our sensing and reach into them.
So what does this all mean?
I think most people intuitively sense the umwelt and do things to expand their perceptual capabilities, no matter what their life pursuit is.
But no one has invested more than science in the effort to extend and deepen our perception and understanding of reality. Over many centuries, with the invention and application of sophisticated instruments, (telescopes, microscopes, and electronics etc.), scientists have gradually learned that the universe is spectacularly wilder than previously understood or even dreamt of!
The discovery of curved space and time, black holes, dark energy, and a long list of other profound phenomena, reflect what can be accomplished by extending our limited sensing ability and reaching into worlds previously unknown and undiscovered.
Non-scientists also try to get beyond their sensorial limitations
Since our unconscious is also largely inaccessible and unobservable, by extension, it is beyond our umwelt. Some artists try to “somehow”access what’s going on in their unconscious – translating unobservables and emotions into observables ( paintings, sculpture, dance, performance).
No matter what your life pursuit, realizing your sensorial limitations (the umwelt), and then compensating for it by finding ways to extend your perceptual capabilities, and then reaching into whatever new realm of what becomes observable, detectable, and experienceable, enables you to discover new realities and experience a richer life.