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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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§ 37. Form I as Proper Object of Formal Ontology

§ 37.Form I as Proper Object of Formal Ontology


On the basis of the considerations in this chapter, the sense of formal-ontological investigations can be determined more precisely, and the possibility of the latter can be, if not demonstrated – which would require separate epistemological deliberations – at least made more plausible.

In keeping with the basic aspirations of a number of researchers over recent decades175, I choose the concept of form I as the guiding idea for formal-ontological investigations. That is to say, form I, in accordance with both its general idea and its various possible modalities, is to be the theme of the investigation. As form I, it is of course always form of something whose form it is. Since apart from form, matter I and a specific mode of being (or an existential moment) is also distinguishable in every entity [Etwas], two questions thrust themselves to the fore: 1. What sort of entity – in accordance with its matter I and its mode of being – should it be whose ←67 | 68→form I is supposed to be investigated in formal ontology?; 2. Is it possible to investigate the form I176 of some entity on its own, without at the same time having to take this entity into account with respect to both its matter I and its mode of being?

By way of answering the second question first, let us say the following: It has already been ascertained that form I can never occur without that whose form it is, and is of course not...

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