Share this entry

phenomenalism Syllabification: phe·nom·e·nal·ism
Pronunciation: /fəˈnämənəlˌizəm/

Definition of phenomenalism in English:


The doctrine that human knowledge is confined to or founded on the realities or appearances presented to the senses.
Example sentences
  • Edwards' occasionalism, idealism, and mental phenomenalism provide a philosophical interpretation of God's absolute sovereignty: God is the only real cause and the only true substance.
  • The movement of Ayer's own thought has been from phenomenalism to what he describes in his latest treatment of the topic as ‘a sophisticated form of realism’.
  • This book, together with a paper entitled The Relation of Sense-Data to Physics published in the same year, represents an excursus by Russell into something like phenomenalism.



noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • But these experiential regularities are object-dependent, whereas the phenomenalist needs object-independent regularities concerning experiences alone.
  • In the next passages, she also reveals a phenomenalist view about the individuality of physical objects: their ‘being’ is based on appearances, and not anything intrinsic.
  • Having made this return journey from a version of phenomenalism or something close to it, Russell reconsidered problems which he now felt had not been properly dealt with under his phenomenalist assumptions.


Pronunciation: /-ˌnämənəlˈistik/
Example sentences
  • The ontology is phenomenalistic in its leanings, though open to a more physicalistic interpretation.
  • A few years later, Carnap realized that this thesis was untenable because a phenomenalistic language is insufficient to define physical concepts.

Definition of phenomenalism in:

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.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈwɪpəsnapə
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...