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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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XIV. The Problem of the Identity of an Individual Temporally Conditioned Object

Chapter XIV


The preceding considerations pertaining to the form I of an existentially autonomous individual object1 now enable us to tackle2 the problem of such an object’s identity. This problem in its full breadth extends to all individual entities, and generally to everything that exists as such. In this breadth it is a very difficult problem. For it is impossible in this setting to reduce the identity of the object of a particular type to the identity of the object of some other type. The problem then calls for a completely radical solution, and presents difficulties so daunting that at the moment I see no satisfactory way of overcoming them. Fortunately, for our purposes we can confine ourselves to considering the identity of the individual, temporally determined object. For only such entities are taken into account when dealing with the issue of the existence and essence of the real world.

The treatment of this problem will, however, force us once again to deal with the form of the several variants of temporal, individual entities, since formulating the problem depends on the variant of that form. The problem consists de facto of a set of interconnected questions which are so different that they even belong to different domains of philosophical investigations. They were not adequately sorted out in prior discussion, which has led to various difficulties that cannot be cleared away except by first purifying the entire problem-context. I begin with that.

First of all, the group of formal-ontological...

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