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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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XII. The Form of the Relation. The Relative and Non‐Relative (Absolute) Characteristics of the Individual Object

Chapter XII


Until now I have dealt exclusively with an object’s inner states of affairs, hence with states of affairs that subsist “in the interior” of an individual object. To speak more precisely, these states of affairs can be called “one-subject states of affairs”; only one individual object or at most one object of a lesser or greater higher order is involved as subject of the accruing property or of the process that is taking place. But there are also states of affairs in which more than one object participates; and indeed they participate in it as basis of a property’s accruing to at least one of the objects involved, or as basis of a process that is in progress. We may take as examples the states of affairs specified by the following sentences:

The states of affairs enumerated here differ distinctly from those in which likewise more than one object participates, but in which the objects play a different role than in the ones just cited, and indeed a role which is similar to the one played by the [327] objects in the states of affairs discussed in the previous chapter – hence, for example: 6. “Peter and Paul went for a walk;” or 7. “The flowers bloom over the meadow in a myriad of color speckles.”

The last two examples are either aggregates of states of affairs in which only “one subject” participates, are pure constructs of the mind, or they are composite states of affairs of...

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