Phenomenal Reality and Relationality as a Conditioned Part of the Thing-in-Itself

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The problem what is the relationship or connection between phenomena, which we truly know, and things-in-themselves, which we cannot know at all, as they are not subject to our forms of intuitions and the categories of our understanding, but of which we can only think, as long as our thought does not contradict itself, this problem still bothers us very much. Some idealistic interpreters, such as Herman Cohen, have argued that the only reasonable solution to this time-honored problem, is to take an idealistic approach not only to the noumena but also to the things-in-itself. This means, to consider the demand for the knowledge of the absolutely unconditioned as a subjective demand and need of our reason. This sort of the unconditioned can be only regulative for our reason, never constitutive. After all, it is impossible to break through the web or relations existing between our mind and the unconditioned reality, which is the thing-in-itself. We must stay always within this web of phenomena, knowing this reality as it appears to our mind and never as it is in itself, which is epistemic inaccessible to us. I do not feel easy with the idealistic attempt to solve the problem. Unlike Herman Cohen, I do not think that the stars exist in astronomy’s books. They exist independently of our reason and we know that. And, yet, there appears to be an unbridgeable distance between phenomena and things-in-themselves. Nevertheless, considering reality as it is in itself qua the total series of conditions of a given fact (datum), which is Kant’s explicit way to consider reality, this reality is a totality, a part of which is the realm of phenomena. Phenomena are realty not as it is in itself, namely absolutely unconditioned, but as a conditioned part that always requires endless completion and revisions. Thus, the intelligible relationship between things-in-themselves and phenomena is mereological, namely, it is a whole/part relationship. This is another variation on a Kantian theme or a reproduction of it, which keeps intact the critical distinction between these two kinds of reality and yet clearly explicates the relationship between them. From an analogy with Spinoza’s concept of adequacy, I recognize that Kant’s rejection of immediate evidence and immediate cognition and avoiding of ascribing him the myth of the given, which I have discussed above, lead, too, to the conclusion that phenomena are simply the limited and conditioned part of the noumenon as the thing-in-itself. This also leads to a realistic interpretation of Kant and a rejection of ascribing him an idealism concerning things-in-themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Studies Series
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePhilosophical Studies Series
ISSN (Print)0921-8599
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8349

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • A given fact
  • Endless completion
  • Epistemic inaccessibility
  • Herman Cohen
  • Idealistic interpreters
  • Mereological relationship
  • Phenomena
  • Regulative vs. constitutive
  • Spinoza and adequacy
  • The absolutely unconditioned
  • The total series of conditions
  • The web of phenomenal relations
  • Things-in-themselves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Language and Linguistics


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