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Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The combustion of a match is an observable occurrence, or event, and therefore a phenomenon.
A comparison between a candle flame on Earth (left) and in a microgravity environment, such as that found on the ISS (right). The same phenomenon is observed as appearing differently.

A phenomenon (from Greek φαινόμενoν, pl. φαινόμενα - phenomena) is any observable occurrence.[1] In popular usage, a phenomenon often refers to an extraordinary event. In scientific usage, a phenomenon is any event that is observable, however commonplace it might be, even if it requires the use of instrumentation to observe it. For example, in physics, a phenomenon may be a feature of matter, energy, or spacetime, such as Isaac Newton's observations of the moon's orbit and of gravity, or Galileo Galilei's observations of the motion of a pendulum.[2]

Use in gemology

In gemology a phenomenon is an unusual optical effect that is displayed by a gem. Play-of-color, labradorescence, iridescence, adularescence, chatoyancy, asterism, aventurescence, lustre and color change are all phenomena of this type.

Use in philosophy

In philosophy, the use of the word phenomenon differs from other uses in that it refers to perceived events. Phenomena may be perceived through a person's senses or with their mind.

The term came into its modern philosophical usage through Immanuel Kant, who contrasted it with noumenon (for which he used the term "Ding an sich", or "thing-in-itself") or Absolute. Kant was heavily influenced by Leibniz in this part of his philosophy. Phenomenon and noumenon serve as interrelated technical terms in Kant's philosophy. Noumena, in contrast to phenomena, are not directly accessible to observation.
Nowadays, "phenomena" are often, but not always, understood as 'appearances'. These are themselves sometimes understood as involving qualia.

References

  1. ^ New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed.)
  2. ^ Jeremy Bernstein, A Theory for Everything, Copernicus, An imprint of Springer-Verlag, New York, 1996, hardback, ISBN 0-387-94700-0
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

A phenomenon (Greek: φαινόμενo, pl. φαινόμενα) is an observable event or, quite literally, something that can be seen.[1]

It comes from the noun φαινόμενον (phainomenon, df. appearance) and is also related to the verb φαινειν (phainein, df. to show). Its plural is phenomena. Its antonym is lathomenon, meaning "something lying beneath the surface".

General sense and use

In general, apart from its original use as a term in philosophy, phenomenon stands for any observable event. Some events are easy to observe, others need scientific experiments that make observation possible.

Phenomenon can also mean a "surprising development" or "unusually successful person".[2][3]

References

  1. Cambridge Online Dictionary: Phenomenon as observable event or object
  2. Phenomenon at Wordnet
  3. Cambridge Online Dictionary: Phenomenon as success

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