Thoughts on the types of world images in creatures with mention of the self

Any living creature must have a world image in order to live in the world.  That is to say, they must have some “idea” of what the world consists of and where they are in relation to it.  I often speak of the creation of this world image as ‘conception’ and the study of it as ‘conceptionism’.


There are a number of ways in which world image appears:

  1. Passive world image.  This refers to the physical attributes that a creature has that allows them to live in the world.  Because physical attributes do not change they can be described as having a passive influence.  Examples of physical attributes include fins, wings, legs, fingers, lungs, etc.  Each physical attribute limits the creature to specific functions and ways of living.  Because of this, in order for it to live within the bounds of its physical attributes it must, accordingly, have the ability to create a world image to match it.  That is to say, their physical attributes limit any world image to the capacities of the physical attributes.  This shows that all creatures have an innate ‘physical attribute/world image’ association’ in which the physical attributes are intimately bound with a world image that is created.  Because physical attributes do not change they create a static world image that is unchanging and defined.
  2. Active world image.  This refers to a world image as created by the active association of the world.  The creation of the active world image is founded on the passive world image and what it ‘allows’ the creature to do.  In other words, active world image is restricted by passive world image.  A creature simply cannot do something in which it has no physical attributes to perform (like a human living under water).  As it behaves, and lives, in the world a world image is created and developed.  In other words, the active element creates a more varied and changing world image.

This shows that any world image created by a creature is bound by its physical characteristics, both actively and passively.  They can only conceive of the world in a way that its physical characteristics will allow it to.  This shows that each creature is limited in its ability to create a world image and that they see the world only ‘partially’.  Because of this, one can say that each creature has its own “version” of world image (such as a sharks world image or a squirrels world image).  Therefore, each creature see’s the world in its own limited way that is different from other creatures.  This shows that there is no “complete” or “absolute” image of the world by any creature.

Other aspects of world image are:

  1. Mechanical world image.  This refers to the ‘design’ of the creature.  The ‘design’ of a creature is based on the assumption of the world image it will live in.  A fish, for example, is ‘designed’ with gills and fins to allow it to live in the water.  This shows that the very ‘design’ of the creature is the beginning of its world imageThere are some creatures whose whole association with the world is through mechanical world image.  A good example are bacteria whose whole association is based in what the cell is ‘designed’ to do.  It does not sense anything, make decisions, or anything else.  Because of this it is lives in a passive world image.
  2. Immediately perceived world image.  This refers to an image of the world that is created by the creature as it immediately perceives it.  That is to say, these creatures live in the ‘immediate now’ . . . there is no real memory or ‘analyzing’ of the world.  They react with what’s in the world in front of them immediately and with an immediate response.  These creatures tend to have small or no real neural systems, little memory, no real intelligence and are living in a second-to-second world.  Because they have no memory they are not aware of things they saw or experienced just seconds ago.  Simple insects are a good example here.  Because the creature is actively associating in the world it requires an active world image, as does everything else that follows.
  3. Immediately perceived world image with memory.  This is as in the previous entry but they have some memory.  This memory, though, is small, and tends to be rooted in instinct. That is to say, instinct “tells” them what to remember and why.  This allows them to ‘anchor’, so to speak, certain images and sensations as significant.  Otherwise, the images and sensations have nothing to give it value and, accordingly, are passed off as nothing.   Because of this ‘anchoring’ it allows them to find their nest, mate, food, and such.  This tendency creates a greater scope of their world image and how it is conceived.   This is the ‘sensation-instinct-anchoring tendency’ where a sensation is given special significance.  As a result of this, it greatly alters the creatures world image, making it more complex and intricate.  In order for this tendency to manifest itself, it requires more involved physical attributes such as more involved sensory systems, a larger brain, greater mobility, etc.  More complex insects are a good example here.
  4. The space model world image.  This is an image of the world where space is sensed and perceived as well as their relationships to things in space.  That is to say, they sense themselves in the spatial reality of the world.  Here they will see something, glance away, and turn back to look at it again.  In this case, their memory allows them to ‘hold onto’ things in their memory as well as its association in space allowing them to remember that something is there, in space, without immediately perceiving it.  In their brains they develop a ‘space map’, so to speak, of where things are located in relation to themselves.  This creates a ‘space model’ of world image.  Typically, they give no real meaning to things in the world, except what instinct tells them, such as that a hawk is a threat or that a nut is food.  Things are given no more meaning than that and things are not viewed in context with one another.  Flying insects are a good example here.
  5. The world model world image.  This is a world image where things in the world are put into context and are viewed in relation to one another and given meaning or value.  This gives a great scope of world image.  This makes it so that the creature ‘tests’ the world more to discover things.  It also creates a very intricate and complex association with the world.  As a result, they have a more active role in the world and are more versatile.  This is seen in birds, for example.
  6. The projected world image.  The development of the self creates a more involved world image.  In many ways, one could say that the complexity of the world image is in direct association with the development of the self.  This shows, I think, that the world image becomes an extension of the self and is directly related with it.  That is to say, the world image becomes an image of a projection of the self upon the world.  What this means is that what we ‘think’ the world is actually consists of what we ‘are’.  As a result, our world image is a reflection of us.  Typically, we tend to think that the world is something as something inanimate, that we only ‘observe’.  Though there is some truth to this, when we give meaning to the world we cease being observers and become a part of the world itself.  This is because when we give meaning to the world we project ourselves into the world and the world becomes a reflection, a mirror, of ourselves.  As a result, the world ceases being this inanimate thing and takes on a ‘living’ quality.  This is only seen in mammals, as far as I know, and is particularly strong in humans.

If we want to look at it more simply we could describe these traits in this way:

  1. Creature ‘design’/reflexes.
  2. Sensation.
  3. Memory.
  4. Space.
  5. Intelligence.
  6. Self.

These show something like a pyramid in the world of living creatures where the mechanical world image (creature ‘design’/reflexes) is at the base and the projected world image (self) is at the tip.  Or, to put it another way, mechanical world image (creature ‘design’/reflexes) reflects the simplest of creatures.  Projected world image (self) reflects the most complex of creatures.  In some ways, these abilities are like a hierarchy of creature complexity showing that, the more complex the world image the more complex the creature.


The greatest world image is a direct result of the self (as far as I know) and there it seems to stop.  One interesting point is how, in a way, the world image makes something like a complete circle.  It begins with the creature itself and its ‘design’ (mechanical world image).  The complexity of the creatures then travels away from the creature emphasizing the world and its reactions to the world (such as the space model world image).  It then comes back to the creature itself, in the self (projected world image).  The circle is something like this:

creature (design)>>>>>world>>>>>creature (self)

It has ended where it began – at the creature – though in a changed form.  The human who has a self, in a way, has returned to the same state as a bacteria, for example . . . a world image based in its own interior and inherent mechanisms as a dominant part of life.  To put it another way, the life of bacteria are based purely on its interior cellular activity.  The life of a human is now primarily based in its interior mental workings and fabrications (such as thoughts, ideas, etc.).  In both cases, the associations with the exterior world is somewhat restricted.

The beginnings of the self seem to be a result of aspects of ‘life preservation’This forces the creature to perceive itself as separate or removed from the world . . . the beginnings of the self.  This tendency appears in ways such as:

  • By a threat.  For many simple creatures the only time it reflects any sense of self-as-separate-from-the-world is when it is threatened.  In this case, it must react against the threat.  As a result, a condition is created of self-versus-threat.  That is to say, the self preserves the creature against the threat.  This is probably the simplest form of self.
  • By social organization.  Any social organization requires a sense, in some form, of the-other-in-relation-to-me.  That is to say, there must be a sense that one is associating with something else and that one is removed from this something else.  In other words, social organization requires a sense of self in a creature.
  • By mating.  This is just a more specific form and continuation of social organization.  In some ways, it requires a stronger sense of self than social organization as it reflects a sense of ones importance.  That is to say, not only is one separate from other creatures but one has importance in relation to other creatures.  This sense, no doubt, leads to the many fights and squabbling that happens when many creatures mate.  This would suggest that self-importance has origin in mating.

One of the things this shows is that the self only appears under certain conditions. Simple things like eating and crawling around do not seem to require a self to perform . . . the self simply has no value in those functions.  These are often done instinctively and with reflexes and natural tendencies for some creatures, such as insects.

Because the self only appears under certain conditions the self is perceived sporadically only at certain times and conditions.   As a result of this, I speak of this condition as the ‘sporadic self’.  The self, then, is not a constant awareness, nor is it a dominant entity in any creatures life.  It never has been.  Much of humanities ‘odd’ behavior, for example, often has root in this fact, such as how people tend to do things ‘without thinking’ or do things ‘unconsciously’ or ‘without their knowing’.  The self is simply not a dominant and constant trait in any creatures life.

Initially, in the simplest creatures, the self takes on a quality of an instinct.  Dictated by instinct (such as a result of a threat) it shows that the self begins as an instinct.  This is the ‘self-as-instinct’.  It is most dominant in the simplest of creatures, such as insects and spiders.  We must keep in mind, though, that, at this stage, this is nothing but instinct (such as jerking back when one is burnt) and not a ‘true self’ as we see later with humanity.

With the coming of ‘self-as-instinct’ it as if opens the door to the creation of a self.  It almost seems that the ‘self-as-instinct’ creates a self-ready-to-happen that is always there in many creatures, a self that ‘waits’ for the correct conditions to make it appear (remember that the self only appears under certain conditions and, therefore, only appears sporadically).  This self seems to sit there as if ‘hanging’.  It creates the ‘casual self’, a self that is only “half there”, dormant, waiting, and passive.  It is as if it is kept in a hand bag, ready to be used at a seconds notice.

The ‘waiting’ tendency of the ‘casual self’ creates a need for the creature to develop physical attributes of alertness and wakefulness.  This requires a more complex brain for this to happen.  It seems to appear with the reptiles.  In addition, the ‘casual self’ seems to require the need for sleep as part of its alertness and wakefulness tendency. This appears to be because alertness and wakefulness is a reflection of brain waves or, rather, overall brain functioning.  As the self develops so does brain waves and the need for a massive control of the brain as a unit.  This shows that the self seems associated with the brain working as a whole unit.  This requires a more complex brain functioning in creatures.  In some respects, the development of the self requires a complex brain structure to work showing a ‘self/brain complexity connection’. 

Various qualities that make up the ‘casual self’ include:

  • The self-as-memory.  Because of memory a creature begins to sense the self as ‘being in time’ or ‘in relation’ to something.
  • The self-as-in-space.  The sense of space, and ones relation to things in space creates a sense of self.
  • The self-as-testing.  The ability to test and associate with the world creates a sense of self.
  • The self-as-projection.   The projection of the self upon the world.  This creates a world image that is very alive and a reflection of us.  In addition, this often creates another ‘self’, so to speak, which allows for reflection and observation of ones self.  Most people seem to think the self is a result of reflection which is not true.  As far as I know only humans, and some mammals perhaps, have this ability of reflection.

A significant quality, found only in the more complex creatures, is the ability of projection.  It creates a tendency for the world to ‘come alive’ and a tendency to reflection.  The absence of these qualities greatly affect creatures behavior to such a significant point that there can be described two forms of self in creatures:

  1. The rudimentary self.  These have no projection or reflection.
  2. The projecting/reflecting self.  This have the quality of projection or reflection.

It seems, to me, that a creature with a rudimentary self (without projection/reflection) would have qualities such as:

  • They do not see themselves as separate from themselves.
  • The self is not complex, ‘profound’, or deep.
  • They are more in the now, living second-to-second.
  • They are only ‘aware’ . . . they are not “conscious”.
  • They do not think, reflect, or ponder things.

Most certainly, there are times when we all are in a ‘rudimentary self state of mind’, from time to time, and experience similar qualities, though we usually do not realize it.  This is because, in these states of mind, the self does not exist.  The fact that we do this shows that we have, within us, all the qualities of the simpler creatures.  Because of this, they appear from time to time.

As I said above, we do not perceive our self all the time but, yet, there is a tendency to feel that we have a self all the time.  This is the ‘self constancy illusion’.  This is because we perceive the self in different ways:

  • The self-as-experienced.  This is when the self really appears.
  • The self-as-memory.  This is when we live by the ‘memory’ of our previous self-as-experienced events and happenings.
  • The non-self as non-existent.  When we do not have a self we simply are not aware of it.  As a result, we sense the self only under the conditions above making it always seem “there”.

In actuality, it appears that much of our perception of a ‘constant’ self actually originates from memory.  We remember and reflect on what our self has done though, in actuality, we are actually doing nothing.  This often makes us think we are doing things when we haven’t.  In that way, a lot of the perception of a self is really a form of reminiscences.  Often, this tendency actually leads us further away from our self and makes us live in a fantasy-like world.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Existence, Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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