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[thing-in-it-self] /ˌθɪŋ ɪn ɪtˈsɛlf/
noun, plural things-in-themselves
[thingz-in-th uh m-selvz] /ˌθɪŋz ɪn ðəmˈsɛlvz/ (Show IPA).
reality as it is apart from experience; what remains to be postulated after space, time, and all the categories of the understanding are assigned to consciousness.
Compare noumenon (def 3).
Origin of thing-in-itself
1650-60; translation of German Ding an sich Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for thing-in-itself
Historical Examples
  • For the will, though the nearest we can get to the thing-in-itself, is in truth a partially phenomenalised expression of this.

    Schopenhauer Thomas Whittaker
  • The fountain and support of it is the will to live, or the thing-in-itself, which we are.

  • Ultimately, freedom is a mystery, and takes us beyond even will as the name for the thing-in-itself.

    Schopenhauer Thomas Whittaker
  • The thing-in-itself is the unknowable reality of the thing we know.

    The Problem of Truth H. Wildon Carr
  • To others, this sense of mystery is a prophetic anticipation of the Kantian thing-in-itself.

  • The thing-in-itself either is or else it is not the reality of phenomena.

    The Problem of Truth H. Wildon Carr
  • As a philosopher, he is interesting for his criticism of the theory of the “thing-in-itself” (Ding-an-sich).

  • What the reality is, is the problem of the thing-in-itself (to use the Kantian term).

    Schopenhauer Thomas Whittaker
  • On the other hand, everything as thing-in-itself is free; for 'freedom' means only non-subjection to that law.

    Schopenhauer Thomas Whittaker
  • But for that matter, Electricity is only known to us as associated with some form of Substance, and not as "a thing-in-itself."

    Dynamic Thought William Walker Atkinson
British Dictionary definitions for thing-in-itself


(in the philosophy of Kant) an element of the noumenal rather than the phenomenal world, of which the senses give no knowledge but whose bare existence can be inferred from the nature of experience
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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thing-in-itself in Culture

thing-in-itself definition

A notion in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. A thing-in-itself is an object as it would appear to us if we did not have to approach it under the conditions of space and time.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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