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From Ancient Greek νοούμενον (nooúmenon), passive present participle of νοέω (noéō, I know).


noumenon (plural noumena)

  1. (philosophy) In the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and those whom he influenced, a thing as it is independent of any conceptualization or perception by the human mind; a thing-in-itself, postulated by practical reason but existing in a condition which is in principle unknowable and unexperienceable.
    • 1871, David Asher, "Schopenhauer and Darwinism," Journal of Anthropology, vol. 1, no. 3 (Jan), page 317:
      The final result of Kant's philosophy, expressed in the concisest terms, was the proposition, so humiliating to human cognition, but, at the same time, so fertile in consequences, that we can know only phenomena, or the outward appearances of things, but not the noumenon, or the thing in itself.
    • 1954, Bella K. Milmed, "Theories of Religious Knowledge from Kant to Jaspers," Philosophy, vol. 29, no. 110 (July), pp. 197-8:
      We have no specific concept of the noumenon, but think of it merely as whatever the object may be apart from the manner in which our knowledge exhibits it.
    • 2003, Jay L. Garfield and Graham Priest, "Nagarjuna and the Limits of Thought," Philosophy East & West, vol. 53, no. 1 (Jan.), page 16:
      That, we have seen, is what prevents the two truths from collapsing into an appearance/reality or phenomenon/noumenon distinction.

Related terms[edit]




  • noumenon in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • noumenon” in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–.
  • noumenon” in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • "philosophy of Immanuel Kant" by William Turner, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Robert Appleton Company, New York, 1911.
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Simon Blackburn, Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (1989)
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary (1987-1996)
  • Dictionary of Philosophy, Dagobert D. Runes (ed.), Philosophical Library, 1962. See: "Noumenon" by Otto F. Kraushaar, page 215.