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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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§ 54. The State of Affairs and the Temporally Determined Objects

§ 54.The State of Affairs and the Temporally Determined Objects


How do things finally stand with the subsistence of the state of affairs “A is not b”? Who is actually right: Duns Scotus or Reinach? The outcome of our investigations indicates that negative states of affairs cannot be placed on an equal existential footing with the positive states of affairs that subsist in the autonomous [308] sphere. However, from the opposite side,107 they should not be regarded as pure entia rationis. That some entity does not possess a particular property – provided the corresponding sentence is true – is also a fact, except that as fact it is different in various respects from the positive facts. Negative states of affairs display a peculiarly dual character of being. It turns out once again that the simple contradistinction of ←291 | 292→being and non-being does not suffice. What distinguishes the negative states of affairs from the positive is that they are characterized by an existential derivativeness, potentially of a higher degree than is the case for positive states of affairs. Insofar as the positive states of affairs in an autonomous object are existentially original, the negative states of affairs that occur in it are derived from them. Insofar, however, as the positive states of affairs are for their part already derivative, then the negative ones are derived from derivative ones, hence are derivative to a higher degree than the latter. The negative states of affairs are like a shadow that ˹so-to-speak looms behind the object˺108 as soon as there is a light-source...

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