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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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§ 64. The Identity of a Process and the Identity of an Event

§ 64.The Identity of a Process and the Identity of an Event


Bertalanffy would perhaps retort that the organism is nothing other than precisely such a system of hierarchically ordered processes of regular lawfulness, and [64] if we wish to speak of properties – they are nothing other than the properties of this system itself that are contained in this lawfulness. Nothing other than processes – and only the constant features of their lawfulness – comprise the essence of the organism.200 For each genus these systems of processes are somewhat different and display different lawful regularities; however, their constancy guarantees the identity of the organism despite all transformations and all exchange of raw material. It would have to be shown in concrete investigations what sort of properties (e.g. “force-fields”) those are about which for the time being Bertalanffy speaks in a somewhat unclear fashion, properties of a system in equilibrium, which are different for every system and which, if they are preserved unchanged, are decisive for the existence of the respective living being, and should they ever be subjected to an irreversible change – bring about the death of this living being. It appears that Bertalanffy’s reflections do in fact lean in this direction201.

The question that arises for us first of all is what is more existentially primal – persistent objects (things, in particular) or systems of processes, and secondly, whether processes can transpire without corresponding persistent objects underlying them. We have already weighed this issue and decided in favor of the persistent objects. But we shall have another occasion to return to this...

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