My world view is that there is no way to peek behind the curtains of the universe to reveal its truths-- whether spiritual, religious, or even scientific.

I don't think the word to describe this is Skepticism because whether or not I can be certain of all truths is not really the question I am trying to ask. It is irrelevant to me whether or not I can truly know that I and the things and around me exist. I simply recognize that all attempts to quantify the workings of the universe are man-made descriptive models that can, admittedly, be extremely accurate at predicting things but can never attain the stamp of universal truth.

The word I've been using to describe myself so far is Anthropocentric in an attempt to denote the idea that every piece of information or knowledge in the world is the product of human minds, but I feel as if Anthropocentrism additionally attributes a certain spiritual significance to humanity that I wish to avoid. I don't want to rule out the possibility that other organisms can develop and share their own systems of world-outlooks. My only admission is that only the ideas of humanity are the ones we have access to so far.

Is there a word for the school of thought and/or philosophy that holds "humans made it all up," or, more broadly, "citizens/inhabitants of the universe made it all up"?

  • ...made 'what' up? Jun 17, 2018 at 5:23
  • Sounds like you're looking for is the scientific method
    – Kenshin
    Jun 17, 2018 at 8:20
  • Sounds like you're using the opposite of the scientific or philosophical method and forming beliefs for no good reason. I don't think there is a word for someone who jumps to conclusions in his way. A gambler? A pessimist? An anti-philosopher? .A Materialist? An epistemological nihilist?
    – user20253
    Jun 18, 2018 at 12:22
  • PeterJ, it should have gone without saying that even though I did not feel the need to list the reasons why I have formed my views, I certainly have at least some good reasons to hold what I do. Jun 18, 2018 at 18:22
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    @PeterJ In no way do I think those people, or you, are deluded. I find religious/sacred ideas some of the most profound in history. I am religious to an extent myself. I simply recognize my God is my own/ my religion's creation. This doesn't deny the possibility of God, but is a form of agnosticism: until there is evidence for God, the status quo is humans created religion. (And until there is evidence that the Universe speaks to us, science and math are also human creations--albeit consistent, logical, and great for predictions; but does the universe obey human logic or bestow Truth on them?) Jun 20, 2018 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


I should say that a variety of phenomenalism describes your position. Measure your views against the following possibilities :

Let us begin by distinguishing several views that have borne the label 'phenomenalism' and noting which of them Lewis held. First, there is analytical phenomenalism:

Statements about physical objects are equivalent in meaning to statements exclusively about sense data (or: ways of appearing, etc.)

When I speak of phenomenalism without qualification, this is the doctrine I shall have in mind. Next, there is ontological phenomenalism:

Physical objects are identical with collections or families of actual and possible sense data.

Ontological phenomenalism is sometimes regarded as merely a "material mode" version of analytical phenomenalism, but I shall regard it as a thesis in its own right.

Lewis also used the term 'phenomenalism' in connection with two other views, which I shall name after their most distinguished proponents. The first of these is Kantian phenomenalism:

We know things only as they appear to us, not as they are in themselves.

And the other is Berkeleian phenomenalism:

Physical objects are existentially mind-dependent (i.e., they exist only when perceived).

(James van Cleve, 'C. I. Lewis' Defense of Phenomenalism', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Mar., 1981), pp. 325-332 : 325.)

Though the statement of Kantian phenomenalism is brief and in need of elaboration and refinement, it does seem to capture the 'world view' you describe at starting.

  • It seems like Kantian phenomenalism is most like what I have in mind. However, all of the other phenomenalisms seem to address the scope of understanding of physical objects. How would these theses (including Kant's) change if we broaden the discussion to include abstract objects as well, like gods, languages (including mathematics and physics etc.), and any other idea or philosophy? Would phenomenalism still hold that such structures are artificial? Jun 18, 2018 at 18:15

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