Worldliness is theorized by Edward said and is the main theme of his work The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983), which was published after Orientalism. In the introductory parts of the book Said explains what he calls Secular Criticism and by that what he means is that all of us exist in a secular history and secular criticism would be a kind of criticism which is aware of its own political leanings and is not really over determined by them. In order to further clarify this point, Said discusses the two aspects of our loyalties as individuals and critics in the world and that filiative and affiliative aspects of our identities. The filiative aspects of what we are, including the literary critics, are the family bonds and the very givens of life and family that determine our politics or our
Worldviews. Most of the times, however, we outgrow our filiaative prejudices/ preferences through our affiliative structures. It may happen because of the university we went to, people we studied with, and through politics that we may adopt. Most of the times as critics it’s our affiliative leanings that determine how we read texts and how we write about them. But something else also happens in the process and that is that our affiliative structures or affiliative alignments start predetermining how we read the texts and how we write about them and in that sense, Said suggests, our affiliative alignments harden and become kind of filiative because they overdetermine how we read texts or how we think about literature.
Now, Said argues on page 35 about the texts, and he says that all texts “no matter how rarefied” how unique “are worldly” because they exist in the world, they were compiled and composed in the world, and that the critics read them in the world. Hence the best form of secular criticism would then be a criticism that is working worldly in a sense that it acknowledges that the text doesn’t exist beyond the exigencies of life and beyond history but is also worldly. The critic his or her self may take an objective position, but in the end the critic also exists in the world so worldliness then is keeping in mind the very existence of the l worldliness of that text itself because it exists in the world, was created in the world, and it most of the times responds to the world or represents the world. Furthermore, the critic his or herself is also worldly and is in the world. Keeping both of these things in mind while reading the texts or while writing about the texts will then create a kind of worldly criticism, a criticism that is aware that what we do as critics doesn’t just happen in the ivory tower but has actual consequences in the world or should have actual consequences in the world. This would enable and a kind of criticism that would be aware of my worldliness, my own prejudices preferences or my own positions in the world and, maybe, by knowing that we will then create a habit of a secular criticism a, criticism that just doesn’t push one agenda or the other but rather deals with the text and its implications for the world and acknowledges our own limitations as scholars .