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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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VIII. The Form of the Existentially Autonomous Object

Chapter VIII [59]


As I have shown elsewhere1, there are various formal conceptions of the individual object. They are in part untenable, but in part unsatisfactory from a formal-ontological point of view because they leave the form of the object almost completely unclarified. I have attempted to advance a different conception in opposition to them. Its first beginnings reach all the way back to Aristotle and his Metaphysics, but it has been strongly suppressed in contemporary philosophy by positivist tendencies and has consequently not been sufficiently worked out in a positive way, and indeed even where, one would assume, there was favorable soil for that, i.e. among the phenomenologists2 or among Meinong’s students. Finally, the ontological reflections of the Neoscholastics adhere too slavishly to the texts of Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas and make no sufficient progress in the investigation. So I have here attempted to develop my conception of the form of an individual object without connecting to the already extant beginnings, as well as without getting involved in the debates for or against them. I am convinced that the objections that have been leveled on the part of the empiricists or the positivists against certain basic points of the Aristotelian conception, or against the contemporary rationalist conception, have their source in certain epistemological or even metaphysical commitments, and that they can be overcome by getting more deeply into formal-ontological affairs. I therefore confine myself here to a precise analysis of [60] those of the individual object’s formal moments that can be grasped...

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