"philosophical doctrine or way of thinking which holds that phenomena are the only realities or objects of knowledge," 1856, in a Christian context (opposed to materialism), from phenomenal + -ism. Used earlier in the same sense was phenomenism (1830). Related: Phenomenalist (1856).
I AM about to try to explain a manner of thought which, in various applications, or perhaps misapplications, of it, I have been in the habit of mentally characterizing, and perhaps of speaking of, as 'positivism.' I shall now however not use this term, but the term 'phenomenalism.' I understand the two terms to express in substance the same thing .... The reason for the change is, because in the purely intellectual application which I shall now make of the term, ''phenomenalism' may perhaps carry with it less danger of extraneous associations being joined with it, and may express what I mean more generally .... [John Grote, "Rough Notes on Modern Intellectual Science," 1865]
updated on August 02, 2020