Definition of noumenon in English:


nounplural noun noumena/-nə/

  • (in Kantian philosophy) a thing as it is in itself, as distinct from a thing as it is knowable by the senses through phenomenal attributes.

    ‘Thus he seems to have been more like a Kantian believer in unknowable noumena than like a Vienna Circle proponent of the view that talk of God is not even meaningful.’
    • ‘Like Hegel, Adorno criticizes Kant's distinction between phenomena and noumena by arguing that the transcendental conditions of experience can be neither so pure nor so separate from each other as Kant seems to claim.’
    • ‘A phenomenon is an object of possible experience, whereas a noumenon is an object knowable to thought alone, and which it does not make sense to describe as an object of experience.’
    • ‘Following this, Kant argued we were only capable of perceiving phenomenon, or appearances, while the noumena, or spiritual essence, lay eternally beyond our reach.’
    • ‘The noumenon, called suchness or absolute mind, does not exist in a pristine realm above and beyond phenomena, but expresses itself precisely as phenomena.’



/ˈno͞oməˌnän/ /ˈnuməˌnɑn/


Late 18th century via German from Greek, literally ‘(something) conceived’, from noein ‘conceive, apprehend’.