Posted by: okathleen | October 12, 2009

Noumenon v phenomenon

I spent most of Sunday running children around in a ‘Mom’s Taxi’ sort of way. Who dreamt that up? The ‘Mom’s Taxi’ sticker clinging to the back of so many car windscreens?

I’m interested in their life. One day that person sat up in bed and thought, I know, I’m going to design, market, sell, millions of  ‘Mom’s Taxi’ stickers. And between cab jaunts I spent much time thinking of transcendence.

Immanuel Kant and his nuomenon, the thing in itself, the ding an sich, versus the phenomenon; the thing as it is perceived. This means that I will only ever know the coat hanger on the back of the door as a phenomenon. I shall never know the coat hanger outside my mind, independent of my perception of it. But if we are born with innateness how can there ever be nuomena?

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Many philosophers believe the relationship between epistemology and ontology is the fundamental issue in philosphical studies, and one can see this theme being discussed in many of their works.

In short, epistemology considers how we know what we know – or in other words – it is the study of our knowledge of things.

Ontology is the metaphysical inquiry of the nature of what things are, or what a thing is in itself  (Being).

The reason why the relationship between epistemology and ontology is considered so important to many philosophers is because it concerns the very nature of what we claim know, what we can actually know, and how we might know any of these things at all.

Immanuel Kant’s phenomena and noumena distinction is probably the most well-known, influential, and modern analysis of the relationship between epistemology and ontology

Kant argued that our knowledge of things in the physical world is shaped and formed by certain cognitive categories in our mind. For instance, we are able to distinguish between different objects around us because our minds contain the category (or concept) of space, and as such this acts like a ‘lens’ through which we experience, understand and make sense of the world.

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