[ thing-in-it-self ]

noun,plural things-in-them·selves [thingz-in-thuhm-selvz]. /ˌθɪŋz ɪn ðəmˈsɛlvz/. Kantianism.
  1. 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

Words Nearby thing-in-itself Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use thing-in-itself in a sentence

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

  • As thing-in-itself, the Will is exempt even from the first of the forms of knowledge, the form of being 'object for a subject.'

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

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

    Schopenhauer | Thomas Whittaker

British Dictionary definitions for thing-in-itself


  1. (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

Cultural definitions for thing-in-itself


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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.