There is a law of gravity and it can be expressed as "matter attracts matter". Whether it is the matter of earth or sun or stars or atoms or dark matter etc , the law always holds.

My question is : Can I call the law “matter attracts matter” a noumenon (in Kantian sense)?

  • 4
    For Kant, physical laws would be part of the phenomenal world; so no, they would not be noumena.
    – nwr
    Nov 7, 2023 at 4:07
  • 1
    Can you explain a little more why you think that the law of gravity is oumena when it appears to be a phenomenological law?
    – Annika
    Nov 7, 2023 at 4:07
  • @Annika It appears to be noumena because it is applicable even at places where our senses can not reach like in atoms , dark matter , black holes. It seems to be the God of physics. Nov 7, 2023 at 4:25
  • No. "Matter" is category of experience for Kant, "and does not signify a determinate cognition of something in general, in which I abstract from all form of sensible intuition". The only laws we know that apply to noumena are laws of logic, the law of gravity does not apply to "something in general" and hence is not noumenal, see SEP. Moreover, it involves distances, which are spatial categories, and space is merely a form of sensibility for Kant, not a noumenon either, see IEP.
    – Conifold
    Nov 7, 2023 at 6:37
  • @Conifold do you have a preferred citation format that you'd like me to use for copy/pasting your answers-in-comments as answers where they belong?
    – g s
    Nov 7, 2023 at 6:42

1 Answer 1


Kant uses the term “noumenon” to denote things in themselves, we cannot perceive but only imagine and think about. We do not have direct access to things in themselves. Instead we construct on the basis of our inherent concepts of time and space (intuition) and our rational concepts (categories) our experience of the pheneomena.

A plausible hypothesis is that there exist things in an external world which stimulate our sense organs.

In addition, according to his anthropology Kant considers the categorical imperative to be a guide for moral action. Therefore he makes the hypothesis that human beings have free will for their decisions. Hence freedom of decision is an example of a noumenon.

The laws detected by scientists - like the law of gravitation - do not fall under the concept of noumenon. Newton detected that masses behave according to this law and Kant agreed. The concept of invisible atoms did not play any role at all for Newton's law of gravity.

  • We cannot imagine things in themselves. Mar 21 at 5:46

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