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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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§ 59. Problems Associated with the Essence of the Individual Object

§ 59.Problems Associated with the Essence of the Individual Object


An object whose essence is confined exclusively to a special existential interconnection between moments of its matter, but which at the same time is constituted by a Gestalt quality, possesses or can possess – provided it is no ideal object – acquired or even externally conditioned properties. The possibility of possessing them at all is determined by its essence, although they do not issue in their specific assortment from its essence, nor do they follow from its coexistence with other objects, but are rather just effects of the obtaining of certain states of affairs that play out between the given object and other objects of the same object-domain. We are dealing in this case once again with an irrationality of what exists, this time within the domain of the object’s material endowment. But alongside this, a rational core does show up in its existential domain: the nature of the object, closely bound up with an ensemble of properties equivalent to it.

Ad d) In the last of the possibilities distinguished, the irrationality of the object would reach a much higher degree – perhaps the highest possible. Here, even that rationally intelligible core would be absent from the object, the core that contains a determinate ensemble of moments which necessarily belong together. However, in order to attain to that limit, we must still distinguish certain intermediate cases.

If objects that did not have such a core were possible, then the matter of their constitutive nature would not at any rate...

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