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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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XV. The Form of an Existential Domain and the Form of the World

Chapter XV


Our formal-ontological considerations have thus far exclusively targeted the form of an individual object, without taking account of any possible multiplicity of such objects, and of any new fundamental issues which that might yield concerning the form and the lawful formal regularities that pertain to multiplicity, and in particular, to a whole existential domain – or a world – which contains untold multiplicities of individual objects. But these problems should not remain unacknowledged since the controversy between the idealist and realist solutions to the problem of the existence of the world relates precisely to a world, thus a domain of being of a special sort. This form can show not only whether individual objects are existentially autonomous or merely heteronomous, but also whether a whole domain of being – which harbors within itself these objects of this or that mode of being – exists in an autonomous fashion. In this connection, it is not at all self-evident from the outset that a domain of being – a world, in particular – must display the same formal structure as a single individual object. There may well be quite unexpected formal peculiarities here [96] that might perhaps presuppose the form of the single individual objects which are constituents of the world, but comprise above and beyond these some novel entity [Novum] that must be clarified for itself. Meanwhile, it is also not ruled out that the domain of being, or world, is with respect to form nothing other than an individual object of higher order. It is also...

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