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Something that is shown, or revealed, or manifest in experience. In Kantian metaphysics the phenomena are objects and events as they appear in our experience, as opposed to objects and events as they are in themselves (noumena). It is central to Kant's thought that the former are shaped by the nature of our cognitive faculties: it is because of us that things appear extended in space and time and causally connected. More generally, the phenomenal aspects of things are the aspects that show themselves, rather than the theoretical aspects that are inferred or posited in order to account for them. To ‘save the phenomena’ is to theorize in a way that does justice to the phenomenal aspects of a subject-matter: philosophers frequently charge each other with giving over-simple theories of things, that ride roughshod over one or another aspect of the phenomena. See also phenomenology.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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