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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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PHENOMENON (Gr. 4acv5,1Evov, a thing seen, from cbaiveaOc u, to appear), in ordinary language a thing, process, event, &c., observed by the senses. Thus the rising of the sun, a thunderstorm, an earthquake are natural "phenomena." From this springs the incorrect colloquial sense, something out of the common, an event which especially strikes the attention; hence such phrases as "phenomenal" activity. In Greek philosophy phenomena are the changing objects of the senses as opposed to essences (ra avra) which are one and permanent, and are therefore regarded as being more real, the objects of reason rather than of senses which are "bad witnesses." In modern philosophy the phenomenon is neither the "thing-in-itself," nor the noumenon or object of pure thought, but the thingin-itself as it appears to the mind in sensation (see especially Kant; and Metaphysics). In this sense the subjective character is of prime importance. Among derivative terms are "Phenomenalism" and "Phenomenology." Phenomenalism is either (I) the doctrine that there can be no knowledge except by phenomena, i.e. sense-given data, or (2) the doctrine that all known things are phenomena, i.e. that there are no "things-inthemselves." "Phenomenology" is the science of phenomena: every special science has a special section in which its particular phenomena are described. The term was first used in English in the 3rd edition of the Ency. Brit. in the article "Philosophy" by J. Robison. Kant has a special use of the term for that part of the Metaphysic of Nature which considers motion and rest as predicates of a judgment about things.

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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Phenomenon'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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