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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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X. The Form of the Idea

Chapter X


The problem of the form of the idea leads to so many specialized and interconnected questions that a detailed treatment of them would warrant a sizable treatise of its own. That we cannot do here, but must confine ourselves to questions related to the idealism/realism controversy. From this point of view, the problem that moves to the forefront is the already mentioned one of the kinship, or disparity, between the form of the idea and form I of the purely intentional object, followed by the question concerning the relation between ideas and autonomous, in particular real, individual objects – which in turn splits into two different problem-complexes.1

One of these complexes involves the issue of the general existential relationship [230] between ideas and individual – especially, real – objects. This relationship is disturbing to all those researchers who since the times of Plato and Aristotle have run into ideas in their investigations. The fact that it remains unclarified also ←225 | 226→makes it difficult to grasp the essence of the real mode of being. Is the real world existentially independent of the world of ideas, or does a certain dependence of one of these worlds prevail here, and if so, of what kind is it? Does ˹something idea-like [das Ideenhafte]˺2 reach into the realm of the real, perhaps in the manner that appears to have been the case with Plato when he spoke of Methexis, or even in the manner of Aristotle when he hypothesized something idea-like in every individual...

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