Definition of noumenon in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈno͞oməˌnän/

noun (plural noumena /-nə/)

(In Kantian philosophy) a thing as it is in itself, as distinct from a thing as it is knowable by the senses through phenomenal attributes.
Example sentences
  • Thus he seems to have been more like a Kantian believer in unknowable noumena than like a Vienna Circle proponent of the view that talk of God is not even meaningful.
  • Like Hegel, Adorno criticizes Kant's distinction between phenomena and noumena by arguing that the transcendental conditions of experience can be neither so pure nor so separate from each other as Kant seems to claim.
  • A phenomenon is an object of possible experience, whereas a noumenon is an object knowable to thought alone, and which it does not make sense to describe as an object of experience.



Pronunciation: /-nəl/
Example sentences
  • Nietzsche rejected the Kantian distinction between a noumenal and phenomenal world.
  • In speaking of a social contract, therefore, we are referring not to an actual agreement between empirical selves, but to a hypothetical agreement between purely noumenal beings.
  • Certainly, the largest religion on the census forms in the UK is ‘Christian’, which covers a vast number of levels of belief and commitment but bespeaks some sort of readiness to accept the existence of numinous or noumenal entities.


Late 18th century: via German from Greek, literally '(something) conceived', from noien 'conceive, apprehend'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: nou·me·non

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.