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If some people thinks that something outside the physical world can have an impact upon it, then what do people call the thing outside the physical world? Is there a common word or what are some of the words used to describe it?

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  • This question is very [almost too] broad. But, the word you are looking for is "Transcendental." Look it up.
    – gonzo
    Aug 4, 2020 at 3:51
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    There are different things (people think are) outside of physical world, ideal world and spiritual world most commonly, metaphysical is often used to describe the "deeper" layer of reality.
    – Conifold
    Aug 4, 2020 at 4:18
  • nb "metaphysics of matter" google.com/…
    – user47711
    Aug 4, 2020 at 6:51
  • @gonzo That sounds like the noumenon then, i.e. "Immanuel Kant first developed the notion of the noumenon as part of his transcendental idealism" - however, the noumenon still refers to the physical world. The OP wants to refer to something beyond the noumenon, such as the mental plane. Aug 4, 2020 at 13:08
  • @Chris Degnen I was not referring to the Kantian notion of transcendental (i.e. presupposed in and necessary to experience; a priori) but to "Transcendental describes anything that has to do with the spiritual, non-physical world. ... When something is transcendental, it's beyond ordinary, everyday experience. It might be religious, spiritual, or otherworldly, but if it's transcendental, it transcends — or goes beyond — the regular physical realm"
    – gonzo
    Aug 4, 2020 at 18:44

6 Answers 6

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This question is very [almost too] broad. But, the word you are looking for is "Transcendental," which, as noted by Steven, in its traditional definition [which is unrelated to the Kantian notion of trancendental, i.e. presupposed in and necessary to experience, a priori, etc.] "describes anything that has to do with the spiritual, non-physical world. ... When something is transcendental, it's beyond ordinary, everyday experience. It might be religious, spiritual, [metaphysical] or otherworldly, but if it's transcendental, it transcends — or goes beyond — the regular physical realm"

Alternatively, if the focus is on [the] mind/body dualism [problem], then the term you want is qualia, essentially the internal and subjective component of sense perceptions, arising from stimulation of the senses by phenomena. See https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia/, or, possibly better, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia-knowledge.

And the issue you point to, that is, whether "something outside the physical world can have an impact upon [the physical]," arises, inter alia, in the free will v. determinism debate (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/), often under the guise of of agency and necessity.

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    I don't follow that. Law, real estate, and traffic lights aren't physical but they are very much a part of everyday experience. Are traffic lights transcendental? Go on green and stop on red is a social agreement, not a law of nature.
    – user4894
    Aug 4, 2020 at 21:22
  • @ user4894 Forgive me, but I'm not sure that I grasp your point. This is not a realism/anti-realism/constructivism issue. Maybe this SEP article is better suited than the one I cited earlier. plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia-knowledge. Consider Frank Jackson’s thought experiment (in section 2 of the article) re the color neurophysiologist, Mary. The issue this TE highlights has long been a contentious one in academic philosophy. One either sees the salience of it or not. If you remain confused after perusing it, I do not believe there is anything I can say to help.
    – gonzo
    Aug 4, 2020 at 22:37
  • I am not and was never confused. I don't think there's anything I can say to help you either.
    – user4894
    Aug 4, 2020 at 23:06
  • @ user4894It seems that I have angered you. Why? I simply do not understand what "Law, real estate, and traffic lights aren't physical but they are very much a part of everyday experience. Are traffic lights transcendental? Go on green and stop on red is a social agreement, not a law of nature" has to do with Qualia. Or, if your beef has to do with the 1st paragraph of my answer, I am utterly agnostic about the existence of anything that purports to "transcend" materialism/physicalism/empiricism. I am NOT arguing for the existence of those entities, but only answering the OP's question.
    – gonzo
    Aug 4, 2020 at 23:32
  • You were snarky. I snarked back. I took exception to your claim that I was confused. I am in fact not confuses at all on this point, you are. Have a look here. Not interested in explaining this to you. books.google.com/books/about/…
    – user4894
    Aug 5, 2020 at 0:38
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Transcendental does not work...

...if you are referring to the object, not the experience. All of Webster definitions of Transcendental are from an experiential perspective, including, "transcending experience but not human knowledge."

Kant speaks of its absurdity, not it's possibility...as though the United States did not exist in the 1300s, and yet it surely exists today.

My division is between Natural and Supernatural reality, but even Supernatural does not capture what this question asks, because it only includes realities that take a superposition to what is Natural. If there was/is a supernatural creator, who or what created them?

I often wrestle with Temporal reality in my practice, people seeing what they can see instead of the potential ahead of them. I see the potential, so it's phenomenal to me, but I recognize what I believe is noumenal to them...opps, I'm showing my position....

The best word I've found is Noumenal, but I can't get consensus on that word because everyone wants to attach Kant's definition to it, instead of reaching beyond what Kant wrote, to something that describe reality BETTER. If something is real, according to phenomenal experience, it is phenomenal...otherwise, it's noumenal. We obviously cannot know what is noumenal because we are limited to phenomenal experience, but that's like saying, "if a tree fell in the forest and no one experienced it, did it actually fall?" Limiting reality to what's experienced is absurd, with the tiniest amount of logic...to those who recognize how obvious this question is...or the variation of noumenal described above.

So, if there is not a word, let's create it...help us find the best word, or use noumenal...but transcendental does not work.

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  • Sorry, I must have been asleep when I wrote that! Is an idea physical, or things in the past? Is logic or math physical, or the ability to choose (ok, I know that's up for debate). I recognize five separate realities and physical is only one of them, which I define as everything with mass. the past, thoughts and logic do not have mass, and who knows what's beyond this universe, whatever brought it into existence. So, there is surely more than what is physical, and noumenal helps us 'see' them in abstract, but I have to use four separate terms to describe what is not physical in my work.... Feb 13, 2021 at 13:58
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Transcendental

Transcendental describes anything that has to do with the spiritual, non-physical world.

Transcendental

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  • That is one version - the general, religious one, by the sounds of it. However, "In phenomenology, the "transcendent" is that which transcends our own consciousness: that which is objective rather than only a phenomenon of consciousness", (and so, of the physical world). ref. Wikipedia: Transcendence Aug 4, 2020 at 14:25
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Both "physical" and "outside the physical" are tricky terms. One classic distinction is that of Aristotle between what can be commonly perceived and studied in terms of shape, form, mass, causation, etc. under "physics" and everything else, which came "after" his book of physics and was thus called "metaphysics."

The term has lingered to denote entities beyond the reach of physics and providing, to physicists, disreputable or at least gratuitous explanations for otherwise physical events.

The mathematical advance of physics has made such distinctions ever more problematic. Long before quanta, the Cartesians described Newton's "gravity" as suspiciously metaphysical, because you could not perceive it or see it "pulling" or "pushing" objects.

What's interesting, I think, is the metaphor of "outside the physical." When we see physical objects we assume they have another unseen "side." We can walk around them to confirm this, but cannot then see the first side, so there is always another side or "outside." We seem to naturally extend this metaphor to the universe and the possible limits of perception. Everything must also include its own "other" side.

Yet it might be more suitable today to speak of deep "inside the physical," where hypothetical quarks and other mathematical objects intervene in the physical realm we can see. As others have noted, your question is very broad, but one answer then might be the "mathematical world," whose relations to the "physical world" have intrigued philosophers since the days of the Pythagorians.

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  • An interesting and imaginative answer (you got my vote). Though Kant might object that his synthetic a priori addressed the issue as well as can be expected. Which might be what your rather enigmatic and poetic last sentence to the 4th paragraph brings into view.
    – gonzo
    Aug 4, 2020 at 22:51
  • Thanks. And agree. Yes, there was very similar question recently in which I hauled in Kant's noumena, so didn't repeat that here. Aug 5, 2020 at 17:42
  • Have a look at the last few comments under my answer, which to some extent deal with this topic/issue, and where I reference your answer.
    – gonzo
    Aug 5, 2020 at 17:53
  • @Dcleve's sentence "Once one accepts that both consciousness and ideas are as real and everyday as matter, then the word for "beyond matter" is "our universe" is stunning. Only recently has global/radical skepticism/anti realism, linguistic idealism, and structural/systemic/moral realism been coupled so seamlessly. I find the instability of this project breathtaking.
    – gonzo
    Aug 5, 2020 at 18:10
  • See my comments to the answer, "Transcendental does not work..." Feb 13, 2021 at 14:00
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I think there are two words that give name to things outside the physical realm: mind and civilization.

This comes from the theory of three worlds by Karl Popper.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popper%27s_three_worlds

World 1: the world of physical objects and events, including biological entities

World 2: the world of individual mental processes

World 3: the world of abstractions that emerge from and have an effect back on world 2 through their representations in world 1.

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The question itself sounds very deep when thought about. The thought of the world which is beyond the physical limitations is itself a great thought. A world that is free of all the physical bounds and the limitation sounds very appealing at first. This might not be the case when a person may actually visit it or be a part of it. Coming back to the question, a word for such a world is the "ASTRAL WORLD".

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