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Controversy over the Existence of the World

Volume II


Roman Ingarden

Roman Ingarden (1893–1970), one of Husserl’s closest students and friends, ranks among the most eminent of the first generation of phenomenologists. His magisterial Controversy over the Existence of the World, written during the years of World War II in occupied Poland, consists of a fundamental defense of realism in phenomenology. Volume II, which follows the English translation of Volume I from 2013, provides fundamental analyses in the formal ontology of the world and consciousness as well as final arguments supporting the realist solution. Ingarden’s monumental work proves to be his greatest accomplishment, despite the fact that outside of Poland Ingarden is known rather as a theoretician of literature than an ontologist. The most important achievement of Ingarden’s ontology is an analysis of the modes of being of various types of objects – things, processes, events, purely intentional objects and ideas. The three-volume Controversy is perhaps the last great systematic work in the history of philosophy, and undoubtedly one of the most important works in 20th-century philosophical literature.

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§ 35. Relations among the Various Concepts of Form or Matter. Reduction to a Few Basic Concepts.

§ 35.Relations among the Various Concepts of Form or Matter. Reduction to a Few Basic Concepts.


Analyses of “form” can only be conducted in conjunction with analyses of “matter” (“content”). Their concepts are strictly correlated. They represent pairs whose members can only be elucidated and characterized by means of contrast.˺

Let us first assemble the concepts of form and content that we have acquired in the course of our considerations. They are the following:

I.a)Form: the purely qualitative for itself (Platonic idea), the pure ideal quality [Wesenheit]. Matter: an individual thing (object)

b)Form: the determinant [das Bestimmende] as such (Aristotelian form). Special case: “substantial form,” essence of something, and its antithesis: “the accidental form”; Matter: either 1. that which is devoid of any determination, but undergirds the determination (the pure “first” matter in the Aristotelian sense), or 2. the subject of properties, qualitatively determined in accordance with its nature.102

c)Form: a determining of something which [determining] is in itself unqualitative [28] (a special case of form in the formal-ontological sense); ←43 | 44→Matter: the pure subject of determinations (properties) – in Aristotelian terminology: τó ύποκείμενον (a different special case of form in the formal-ontological sense, the necessary counterpart to103 “determining”).

II.Form in the sense of formal ontology: the radically unqualitative as such in which the quality stands [steht]; there are many different forms in this sense, among them Form Ic) as a special case; Matter: the qualitative in the broadest sense, the pure quality as something that fills-out a form.

III.Form: the relation or...

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