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In philosophy, noetics is a branch of metaphysics concerned with the study of mind as well as intellect.[1] There is also a reference to the science of noetics, which covers the field of thinking and knowing, thought and knowledge, as well as mental operations, processes, states, and products through the data of the written word.[2]


The term itself means "the proper exercise of nous" whereas nous ("mind, understanding, intellect")[1] is described as "the highest faculty in man, through which - provided it is purified - he knows God or the inner essences or principles of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception".[3] In ancient Greek and medieval philosophy, noetic topics included the doctrine of the active intellect (Aristotle, Averroes)[4] and the doctrine of the Divine Intellect (Plotinus).[5]

The entire philosophy of noetics, which include the notions by Immanuel Kant, John Locke, René Descartes, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Jean-Paul Sartre, among others is involved with thinking of intellection by analogy with vision.[6] In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant argues that viewing the world scientifically must be according to the Newtonian system. This constitutes the so-called "noetic skepticism" because we cannot determine if the Newtonian world is indeed the truth.[7]

Late modern philosopher and phenomenologist Franz Brentano introduced a distinction between sensory and noetic consciousness: the former describes presentations of sensory objects or intuitions, while the latter describes the thinking of concepts.[8][9] (See also Noesis (phenomenology).)

Other uses[edit]

Thinkers like Lawrence Krader consider noetics as a science, an empirical discipline that concerns itself with the processes, states, and events in the real world of space and time.[2]

Noetics is also useful in psychology such as the way it overlaps with Jamesian psychology, which deals with a range of phenomena (including emotions and feelings) that influence our thinking and knowing.[10]

The Institute of Noetic Sciences (founded in 1973) describes noetic sciences as "how beliefs, thoughts, and intentions affect the physical world". Since the 1970s and the foundation of the Institute of Noetic Sciences by NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell and others, the term "noetics" has been adopted by several authors such as Christian de Quincey in Deep Spirit: Cracking the Noetic Code (2008) and Dan Brown in The Lost Symbol (2009), who write about consciousness and spirituality.

Thinker Pierre Grimes leads the Noetic Society for the Study of Dialogue and the Exploration of Dialectic (founded in 1967), a philosophical counseling group.[11]

See also[edit]

Contemporary philosophy
Alternative philosophy and parapsychology
Classical psychology
Eastern Orthodox Christianity
  • Philokalia by St. Philotheos of Sinai, Volume 3, 1986, p. 16


  1. ^ a b Kaspari, Bill (2013). The Galilean Pendulum: A New Science Reveals an Unseen World. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. p. 181. ISBN 9781481709804.
  2. ^ a b Krader, Lawrence; Levitt, Cyril (2010). Noetics: The Science of Thinking and Knowing. New York: Peter Lang. pp. xxvii, 9. ISBN 9781433107627.
  3. ^ Foltz, Bruce (2014). The Noetics of Nature: Environmental Philosophy and the Holy Beauty of the Visible. New York: Fordham University Press. pp. 248–249. ISBN 9780823254644.
  4. ^ Daniel D. De Haan (2010). "Aristotle's De Anima: A Common Point of Departure for Averroistic and Thomistic Noetics?".
  5. ^ Richard T. Wallis. Neoplatonism and Gnosticism. SUNY Press, 1992, p. 99ff.
  6. ^ Ong, Walter (1977). Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. p. 135. ISBN 080141105X.
  7. ^ Blackford, Russell; Broderick, Damien (2017). Philosophy's Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell. p. 152. ISBN 9781119210085.
  8. ^ Brentano, F., Sensory and Noetic Consciousness: Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint III, International Library of Philosophy and Scientific Method, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.
  9. ^ Biagio G. Tassone, From Psychology to Phenomenology: Franz Brentano's 'Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint' and Contemporary Philosophy of Mind, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, p. 307.
  10. ^ Krader, Lawrence; Levitt, Cyril (2010). Noetics: The Science of Thinking and Knowing. New York: Peter Lang. pp. 257–258. ISBN 9781433107627.
  11. ^ Pierre Grimes – The Noetic Society


  • Davidson, H. A., Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect: Their Cosmologies, Theories of the Active Intellect, and Theories of Human Intellect, New York-Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • de Quincey, C., Radical Knowing: Understanding Consciousness through Relationship, Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 2005.
  • Kenny, Anthony, Aquinas on Mind, Routledge, 1994.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of noetic at Wiktionary