I know Kant says it. But he also claims that nothing else can be said about noumena, only that they exist. I seem to be strongly convinced that this statement involves a contradiction and therefore cannot have any proper meaning. My disagreement seems to involve the definition of the word "exist", not so much in how a particular person defines it, but what meaning it could possibly have. I guess I claim that the statement "noumena exist" attempts to give the word "exist" meaning that no word or concept can possibly have - meaning completely detatched from subjective phenomenal experience.
As a thought experiment: If we knew that that there was no other experiencing mind or sentience outside of earth, and we knew that all life on earth would end in one year, but we could build an underground facility that would reseed life on earth and thaw out embryos and restart human life on earth in 100 million years, I would leave behind our current astronomy texts because I would know that they would be just as applicable to the new remade sentient beings. Likewise with respect to math texts. So, I believe that the milky way and the operation of division would continue to exist while they were not being experienced, but "exist" in the sense that is informed by subjective phenomenal experience. They exhibit the phenomenon of existence.
I got the strong impression from my limited exposure to epistemology that all experience is of phenomena, and that all meaning is informed by experience, however indirectly. Do I have a misconception here, or is this view controversial? Kant seems to agree for the most part - this perspective would seem to be the reason why he asserts that no statement about noumena can be made - noumena, not being phenomena, are not experiencable. but he reserves that one word "exist". He must be implying that "exist" contains meaning which is not informed by phenomenal experience. Is there a debate on this topic?
It seems to me that the word "exist" refers to a phenomenon and is informed by my subjective phenomenal experience. When you say "Your car will continue to exist while you are unconscious" I will say "Yeah, I know what you mean!" but noumena are by definition not phenomena, and so unexperiencable, and incapible of exhibiting any phenomena. I would tend to include "existence" among the phenomena that noumena, by definition, does not exhibit. So, to say "Noumena exist" is like saying "that which doesn't exist, exists"
I'd be grateful for any perspectives or criticisms of my conceptions on this topic.