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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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§ 63. The Conditions of Identity for the Object Persisting in Time

§ 63.The Conditions of Identity for the Object Persisting in Time


This “identity” of the persistent object (of a thing, of a living being, of a man) is something altogether primal that does not lend itself to definition. One can only approximately describe it with words, and indeed on the basis of the intuitive givenness that we can acquire as a result of comporting with the given object. The following circumscriptions then occur to us: That such an object is “the same” through the entire time-span of its existence means nothing other than that from the first instant of its existence onward, despite the changes that take place in it, it continues to remain it itself, until for some reason it ceases to exist. This means that it never becomes some other, second object, but it itself persists in being. This: to become another, second object without itself ceasing to be – this is altogether ruled out. As long as an object is still itself, it can neither be nor become some other ←450 | 451→object. This is so-to-speak the flip-side of the identity of the persistent object. In contrast to processes, it is not composed of what it is in the individual instants of its being (as a process is composed of its phases): the persistent object – as always “the same” – shifts so-to-speak, along with its entire existential scope, into an ever new ˹present [Gegenwart]˺107, until eventually in some present it ceases to exist. We cannot say of it – as we can of every process while it is running its...

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