(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.


The noumenon (/ˈnɒuːmᵻnɒn/, from Greek: [εν]νοούμενον) is a posited object or event that exists without sense or perception.1 The term noumenon is generally used in contrast with or in relation to phenomenon, which refers to anything that can be apprehended by or is an object of the senses. Modern philosophy has generally been skeptical of the possibility of knowledge independent of the senses, and Immanuel Kant gave this point of view its canonical expression: that the noumenal world may exist, but it is completely unknowable through human sensation.

Is that just a euphemism to shield claims that cannot be established using methods of methodological naturalism, which is a scientific standard?

  • To Kant noumenon is a kind of transcendent limit that reason posits to unify experience, like ideal objects in mathematics (its identification with the thing-in-itself is questionable). I have not seen it used on pseudoscience much, in fact, I have not seen it used much outside of Kantian context. Whether everything in science is knowable through senses is controversial. According to some, so-called formal sciences, like mathematics, are rational in origin and independent of the senses. Kant wouldn't call their content noumenal though. – Conifold Jun 2 '17 at 20:53
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    You are genuinely curious as to why anyone thinks science is not the end-all and be-all of thinking? – user9166 Jun 2 '17 at 22:14
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    Using terms like 'euphemism to shield' does not make you sound likely to take anyone who disagrees with you the least bit seriously. That means this is not a question It is a statement of opinion. – user9166 Jun 2 '17 at 22:14
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    Well, to that, in 2017, my answer is yes – amphibient Jun 2 '17 at 22:14
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    Sorry, I am lost on what the remaining issue is. Is there some particular use of "noumenon" (outside of Kantian scholarship) that prompted the question? If we insist on applying the Kantian term to modern concerns some "noumena" might even be compatible with naturalism. Global theoretical entities, like multiverse, or things that naturalism places outside of science, like morality, are arguably "noumenal". – Conifold Jun 2 '17 at 22:59

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