In relation to a prior posted question (which I didn't feel recieved adiquate response), how does Kant claim that observations of objective reality prove something beyond the phenomena, namely noumena? I don't see a necessary link between them, to state there must be a reality beyond perception, within the prolegomena (unless pure reason would be a better source).

1 Answer 1


According to Kant, next to nothing can be know about the noumena except for its existence, and that is primarily a question of definition; i.e. if there is no such thing as noumena, it doesn't make sense to speak of phenomena:

"At the same time, it must be carefully borne in mind that, while we surrender the power of cognizing, we still reserve the power of thinking objects, as things in themselves. For, otherwise, we should require to affirm the existence of an appearance, without something that appears—which would be absurd" (Critique of Pure Reason, Preface to the Second Edition, Bxxvi)

I find it questionable whether Berkeley could even be considered as denying noumena, because he didn't deny appearances. Something had to be the cause of them, and that cause would then be considered noumena. Therefore, as Kant says, there's no way to deny noumena except to claim that there is no such thing as appearances. I don't believe that Kant addressed that possibility, but I doubt that he would have considered it a tenable position.

  • +1, that's a precise and short answer referring to the original source. (It's CPR Bxxvi - not xxiv)
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 18:01
  • @JoWehler. Thanks. I edited the reference — my copy of the Critique doesn't show the page numbers very accurately.
    – user3017
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 18:15
  • @Pé de Leão I think I've had an epiphany. Since his metaphysics only speaks to cognition, and the modes therein, he doesn't care what causes something (unlike metaphysical theories such as materialism, idealism, or dualism). So objects, regardless of a cause, have a cause, for perception, and that is the noumena. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 10:29
  • @NationWidePants. I think many have exaggerated Kant's concept of the noumena, but for Kant it's importance was in the negative, i.e. he wanted to subsume everything that is knowable about experience under phenomena. That was necessary to establish the applicability of the categories because there was no way to assert that such principles have any relevance for the noumena.
    – user3017
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 11:05
  • @NationWidePants. Another thing to note is that Kant avoided saying that phenomena is caused by noumena, because he had no way of establishing a causal relation beyond the phenomenal. Thus, to be precise, the noumena is merely that which appears, leaving it up to the imagination as to whether it's possible for the phenomena-noumena relation to be something other than causal.
    – user3017
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 11:18

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