from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Philosophy The doctrine, set forth by David Hume and his successors, that percepts and concepts constitute the sole objects of knowledge, with the objects of perception and the nature of the mind itself remaining unknowable.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The doctrine that physical objects exist only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That theory which limits positive or scientific knowledge to phenomena only, whether material or spiritual.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The philosophical doctrine that the phenomenal and the real are identical —that phenomena are the only realities. Also called externalism.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • This sort of idealism is just the reverse of that which was held by the philosophers of antiquity and their Christian successors; it does away with the reality of ideal principles by confining them exclusively to the thinking subject; it is a spurious idealism which deserves rather the name "phenomenalism" (phenomenon, "appearance", as opposed to noumenon, "the object of thought").

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7: Gregory XII-Infallability

  • "phenomenalism" with "representationism," runs through the whole of Mr. Stirling's recent criticism of Hamilton's theory of perception.

    The Philosophy of the Conditioned

  • She believed that it was Wittgenstein's lectures, for example, that freed her from the trap of phenomenalism

    Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe

  • 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.

    Jonathan Edwards

  • “Between platonism and phenomenalism: Reply to Cao.”

    Structural Realism

  • This leads Demopoulos and Friedman to conclude that reducing a theory to its Ramsey sentence is equivalent to reducing it to its empirical consequences, and thus that: “Russell's realism collapses into a version of phenomenalism or strict empiricism after all: all theories with the same observational consequences will be equally true” (1985, 635).

    Structural Realism

  • His epistemology therefore reminds us in many respects of the discussion concerning phenomenalism and physicalism in the Vienna Circle and even more of Bertrand Russell's program in his Inquiry into Meaning and Truth

    Slices of Matisse

  • Brandom takes norms implicitly “instituted” by our practices to be basic and proposes a pragmatic phenomenalism about such norms.

    The Normativity of Meaning and Content

  • In a similar vein, it has been questioned that pragmatic phenomenalism manages to account for the difference between mere accordance with these rules and

    The Normativity of Meaning and Content

  • It has been argued that since normative statuses are explained by means of further normative statuses, pragmatic phenomenalism cannot tell us anything informative about how we make or “institute” the basic norms implicit in our practices (cf. Rosen 2001, Hattiangadi 2003).

    The Normativity of Meaning and Content


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  • –noun Philosophy.

    1. the doctrine that phenomena are the only objects of knowledge or the only form of reality.

    2. the view that all things, including human beings, consist simply of the aggregate of their observable, sensory qualities.


    1860–65; phenomenal + -ism

    May 1, 2009