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an observable fact or event; in philosophy the definitions and uses of the term have varied. In the philosophy of AristotleAristotle
, 384–322 B.C., Greek philosopher, b. Stagira. He is sometimes called the Stagirite. Life

Aristotle's father, Nicomachus, was a noted physician. Aristotle studied (367–347 B.C.
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 phenomena were the objects of the senses (e.g., sights and sounds), as opposed to the real objects understood by the mind. Later, phenomena were considered the observed facts and were contrasted with the theories used to explain them. Modern philosophers have used "phenomenon" to designate what is apprehended before judgment is applied. For Immanuel KantKant, Immanuel
, 1724–1804, German metaphysician, one of the greatest figures in philosophy, b. Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Early Life and Works
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 a phenomenon was the object of experience and was the opposite of a noumenonnoumenon
, in the philosophical system of Immanuel Kant, a "thing-in-itself"; it is opposed to phenomenon, the thing that appears to us. Noumena are the basic realities behind all sensory experience.
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, the thing-in-itself, to which Kant's categories did not apply.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) An uncommon object or events; a rarity.

(2) A philosophical concept denoting an object or event that is perceivable by the senses. Aristotle used the term “phenomenon” to mean that which is apparent or illusory. G. W. von Leibniz, who defined phenomena as facts known through experience, distinguished a category of “real, well-established phenomena.” For G. Berkeley, D. Hume, and the advocates of positivism and Machism, phenomena are the data of consciousness—the empirical elements, in the subjective idealist sense—that constitute the only existing reality. According to I. Kant, a phenomenon is anything that can possibly be the object of experience; phenomena are juxtaposed to noumena, or “things in themselves.” In the phenomenology of E. Husserl, phenomena are directly given to consciousness as the contents of intentional acts.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a. the object of perception, experience, etc.
b. (in the writings of Kant) a thing as it appears and is interpreted in perception and reflection, as distinguished from its real nature as a thing-in-itself
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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