I've not read any full chapters on Kant, and even less of his work. Am just familiar with the idea that, for Kant, things as they really are in themselves, noumenal reality, is unknowable. I was just thinking about what I believe, naively, and trying to avoid pan-psychicism, as one does, and wondered if noumenon are very big, perhaps everything that beings add up to, or very small, perhaps what all beings are composed of, reduce to.

Does it have parts, either potentially divided or already so?

  • It cannot have divisions, parts or size and all things would reduce to it. This is its definition. It has (in itself) no phenomenal properties and thus no features that would allow two noumena to be distinguished. As it is unmanifest size is not a relevant concept. This is how it can be everywhere at once. – user20253 Jul 6 '18 at 11:19
  • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Kant strangebeautiful.com/other-texts/kant-prolegomena-cambridge.pdf – Gordon Jul 6 '18 at 11:49
  • This is actually not a bad paper here. Prof. A. Kadir from Turkey took an interest in the subject, "Hegel's Intetpretation of Kant's Epistemology". He covers the relevant part of Kant pretty well. There is a little Turkish? section before he plunges into the English body of the paper. dergipark.gov.tr/download/article-file/149820 – Gordon Jul 6 '18 at 12:43
  • "trying to avoid panpsychism, as one does" - I'm wondering why you come to the conclusion that one avoids panpsychism. – Yechiam Weiss Jul 7 '18 at 10:38

To answer the question, we need to understand what space and time are for Kant. The SEP has an entry on that, but it goes a lot deeper than many people are probably ready for who might ask a question like yours.

Simply put, Kant thinks the space and time we work with is part of the apparatus of our abilities to sense sensible things (things here just being used to fill out the English) and understand objects.

This doesn't imply that Kant things these things are unreal and says nothing about a potential metaphysical space or time that exists apart from this. But the point is that space-time as we know it is for Kant always a part of what we bring as we try to understand the world of phenomenon.

Consequently, it's fair to say that noumenon do not have extension in space or time, because wherever and however they exist lies outside of what the space and time we use in our understanding.

Similary, noumenon don't seem to have parts since dividing things into parts and grouping them together are categories of the understanding (i.e. the boxes we use to place objects).

A key point here is that Kant is a skeptic about "knowledge" if knowledge is to mean having direct unfettered access to noumeon or things in themselves. In Kant's vocabulary, understanding is what we do when we take phenomenon places them under the manifold of sensibility and then understand them as objects...

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  • Nice answer. I would only want to note that there cannot be more than one noumenon. Referring to 'them' in the plural bothers me. There would be no way to tell two noumena apart and, as you say, 'they' would all have to be in the same place and time, (or all be beyond time and space). I share your view that the noumenon must be defined as not having a size. . – user20253 Jul 6 '18 at 11:05
  • I actually tend to agree but there are a lot of people who equate "thing-in-itself" and "noumeon" and I would tend to believe the are multiple things that exist. Also, the plural is mostly just matching the OPs language... – virmaior Jul 6 '18 at 12:37

The answer to this question is similar to the answer to this question. How much do I not know?

It is not possible to know how much you do not know because it could be infinite or finite, small or large if finite. Because one does not know it is not possible to define other than one does not know.

One could ask someone else, but they could only answer to the limit of their knowledge, which may be only finite, so therefore unable to answer such a question.

The question itself is a problem. An infinitely non-repeating number like Pi, can be defined exactly, but any one point on the repeat would need to be calculated. It would appear even an infinite mind is bounded by this reality because it takes infinity to define the infinite number of answers.

So knowledge is infinite in an absolute sense and we will only ever know a finite part of it. On this basis noumenon is infinite.

I am addressing here the idea of what is unknown. If one is bounded by a single object and how it appears as compared to the object in relation to itself, we will never know because we only experience it through our senses. I would suggest it is pragmatic to assume it is the same in itself as it appears. Knowing it might be otherwise is an important constraint, especially when our perceptions fail, and we get hit by the car we did not see.

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  • I cannot make sense of this, Peter. It may make sense with some edits. What's the connection between the extent of knowledge and the size of the noumenon? You assume that the noumenon is infinite in spacetime and therefore may be largely unknown, but this assumption.pre-empts the question and contradicts the definition of the noumenon. – user20253 Jul 6 '18 at 11:13
  • I am suggesting there is knowledge that is infinite, the non-repeating number Pi. If this is true, then unknown knowledge is infinite as Pi is just one example of infinite knowledge. Infinite is knowledge is knowledge that can be obtained but always there is more beyond that which is known. If knowledge is finite, then Pi would be finite. – PeterJens Jul 6 '18 at 11:24
  • Okay. I get that argument. But what's the connection to the size of the noumenon? – user20253 Jul 6 '18 at 11:31

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