Noumenal

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platoscaveoriginal

1. WHAT IS THE NOUMENAL?

Noumena are immaterial entities that can only be apprehended by the non-sensory faculty of intellectual intuition. A Noumenon (singular) is a posited object or event that exists independently of human sense and/or perception.

The Greek word νοούμενoν nooúmenon (plural νοούμενα nooúmena) is the neuter middle-passive present participle of νοεῖν noeîn “to think, to mean”, which in turn originates from the word νοῦς noûs, an Attic contracted form of νόος nóos “perception, understanding, mind.” A rough equivalent in English would be “something that is thought”, or “the object of an act of thought”.

The term noumenon is generally used when contrasted with, or in relation to, the term phenomenon, which refers to anything that can be apprehended by or is an object of the senses. According to Kant, when one employs a concept to describe or categorize noumena (the objects of inquiry, investigation or analysis of the workings of the world), one is employing a way of describing or categorizing phenomena (the observable manifestations of those objects of inquiry, investigation or analysis).

A crucial difference between the noumenon and the thing-in-itself is that to call something a noumenon is to claim a kind of knowledge, whereas Kant insisted that the thing-in-itself is unknowable. Interpreters have debated whether the latter claim makes sense: it seems to imply that we know at least one thing about the thing-in-itself (i.e., that it is unknowable).

Two contrasting interpretations of the thing-in-itself are the dual object view, according to which the thing-in-itself is an entity distinct from the phenomena to which it gives rise, and the dual aspect view, according to which the thing-in-itself and the thing-as-it-appears are two “sides” of the same thing. Although we cannot see things apart from the way we do in fact perceive them via the physical senses, we can think them apart from our mode of sensibility (physical perception); thus making the thing-in-itself a kind of noumenon or object of thought.

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy writes “Platonic Ideas and Forms are noumenon, and phenomena are things displaying themselves to the senses. […] that noumena and the noumenal world are objects of the highest knowledge, truths, and values is Plato’s principal legacy to philosophy.” Plato’s allegory of the cave may be interpreted as an illustration of the noumenal/phenomenal distinction.

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2. WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL DIALECTIC OF THE NOUMENAL?

The Essential Dialectic of the Noumenal is:

{Phenomenon-Noumenal ⇆ Noumenal-Phenomenon ⇵ Phenomenon-Phenomenon} ↻ Noumenal-Noumenal

3. WHAT IS THE COMPLETE DIALECTIC OF THE NOUMENAL?

The Complete Dialectic of Noumenal is:

{Noumenal ⇆ Phenomenon ⇅ Noumenon} ↻ Thing-in-Itself

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4. WHAT IS THE EQUIVALENCY DIALECTIC OF THE NOUMENAL?

The Equivalency Dialectic of the Noumenal is:

{Noumenal ⇆ Reason ⇅ Philosophy} ↻ Metaphysics

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