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[noo-muh-non] /ˈnu məˌnɒn/
noun, plural noumena
[noo-muh-nuh] /ˈnu mə nə/ (Show IPA)
the object, itself inaccessible to experience, to which a phenomenon is referred for the basis or cause of its sense content.
a thing in itself, as distinguished from a phenomenon or thing as it appears.
Kantianism. something that can be the object only of a purely intellectual, nonsensuous intuition.
Origin of noumenon
1790-1800; < Greek nooúmenon a thing being perceived, noun use of neuter of present participle passive of noeîn to perceive; akin to nous Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for noumenon
Historical Examples
  • What signified their endless pages about dualism and monism, about phenomenon and noumenon?

    Birthright T.S. Stribling
  • But then there is the Ding an sich, the noumenon, or Kantian equivalent for the substance of the soul.

    Hume T.H. Huxley
  • He called it the "noumenon," the "real correlate of matter," and pluralized it as "things in themselves."

  • But he insisted, as firmly as Herbert Spencer has since done, that the "noumenon" is "unknown and unknowable."

  • And this meaning is retained in the Kantian philosophy, in which the noumenon is identical with the Ding an sich.

  • The conception of a noumenon is therefore merely a limitative conception and therefore only of negative use.

  • The "colligation" of the facts, to use Whewell's phrase, is not a phenomenon, but a noumenon.

  • The noumenon is a bit difficult to locate; it can be apprehended only be a process of reasoning—which is a phenomenon.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • Now, however, Kant proceeds to ascribe this function to the concept of the noumenon.

  • Humanity is ever seeking the Reality—the noumenon, which we intuitively postulate as behind the phenomena of Nature.

British Dictionary definitions for noumenon


/ˈnuːmɪnən; ˈnaʊ-/
noun (pl) -na (-nə)
(in the philosophy of Kant) a thing as it is in itself, not perceived or interpreted, incapable of being known, but only inferred from the nature of experience Compare phenomenon (sense 3) See also thing-in-itself
the object of a purely intellectual intuition
Derived Forms
noumenal, adjective
noumenalism, noun
noumenalist, noun, adjective
noumenality, noun
noumenally, adverb
Word Origin
C18: via German from Greek: thing being thought of, from noein to think, perceive; related to nous mind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for noumenon

1796, "object of intellectual intuition" (opposed to a phenomenon), term introduced by Kant, from Greek noumenon "that which is perceived," neuter passive present participle of noein "to apprehend, perceive by the mind" (from noos "mind"). With passive suffix -menos.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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