Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.


Philosophy the doctrine that statements about physical objects and the external world can be analysed in terms of possible or actual experiences, and that entities, such as physical objects, are only mental constructions out of phenomenal appearances
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


the empiricist doctrine (e.g. advanced by J. S. MILL) that things ‘are permanent possibilities of sensations’. Thus phenomenalism is not to be confused with PHENOMENOLOGY. DURKHEIM was influenced by phenomenalism.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a philosophical theory according to which the sole object of knowledge is the world of phenomena—the only reality accessible to man.

An extreme form of phenomenalism, tending toward solipsism, is represented by Machism, for example, or by the theories of G. Berkeley, according to which the world is seen as an aggregate of “ideas” or “complexes of sensations.” In its moderate form, phenomenalism is based on acknowledgment of the reality that lies beyond the world of phenomena; this reality, defined as “idea,” essence, or “thing in itself,” is not fully knowable in its “actual being.” Such traditionally idealist views are characteristic of skepticism and agnosticism. The tenets of phenomenalism are also closely related to those of positivism and neopositivism.

Phenomenalism is refuted by dialectical materialism, which holds that there is no insurmountable boundary between appearance and essence and that reality as the object of cognition is accessible through the phenomenon.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In classical Western epistemology, dualism further creates the problems of psychologism is rationalism and phenomenalism in empiricism.
According to de Man, ideology is the confusion of reference and phenomenalism, of representation and world, the forgetting of their difference.
214), Lonergan claims that this visualist tendency can be found in "materialism, empiricism, positivism, sensism, phenomenalism, behaviorism, pragmatism." More recently, the visualist tendency in Western philosophic thought has been studied by Andrea Wilson Nightingale in Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy: Theoria in Its Cultural Context (2004) and others.
Claim (2) serves to exclude the possibility that objects are reducible to mere stimuli of a kind that we do not normally take them to be (and phenomenalism and other kinds of empirical idealism are thereby excluded).
Dogen's theory rests on what we might call his "anti-metaphysical phenomenalism" whereby everything, including the self, consists of shifting phenomena.
Most of his life was devoted to the research of the informational theory, including philosophy of the informational, theory of informational phenomenalism, informational machines and informational operating systems, informational investigations in literature, media, communication by theory and machines, informational theory of consciousness and informational entity programming.
Professor Hobson calls this the methodological phenomenalism of science.
In Ferdinand de Saussure's (1959) binarist semiological reductionism, the phenomenon and noumenon dichotomy was accepted as existing prior to signification, and its linguistic derivation reasserted the categorial basis of Kant's (1989) phenomenalism. In contrast, Charles Sanders Peirce (1998 and 1992) restated the systematic constitution of reality by rejecting the dualism of phenomena and noumena for an irreducibly triadic ground constituted of signifier, signified and interpretant.
Modernists are enclosed within a philosophical phenomenalism, rendering both science and history atheistic in principle and not merely in practice: "God and all that is divine are utterly excluded" (no.