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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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§ 72. Various Types of Object-Domains. More about the Selfsufficiency of the Domain

§ 72.Various Types of Object‐Domains. More about the Selfsufficiency of the Domain


The most difficult case appears to be the one in which the number of a domain’s elements is indeed finite, but very large, and where the individual elements come [155] into being and pass away. How should we decide whether this domain is selfsufficient or non-selfsufficient vis-à-vis a certain set of elements that comprise an effective part of the totality of its elements? It seems that if the number of elements that come into being and pass away is relatively small (if, for example, over the years new literary works come into being, whereas others for one reason or another cease to exist), then a domain containing a large number of elements is selfsufficient vis-à-vis both its individual elements and a certain set of them. The experience of the origination and destruction of many different single objects178 within the real world – without any signs at all showing up of a danger to its existence – appears to speak in favor of this. But we cannot appeal to that here, since we do not know whether the number of objects existing in the world is finite or infinite, and whether this world exists at all (even if we have personally never experienced any doubt in this respect), or what essence-dictated form it has. ˹But we indicated earlier that the world as a special sort of summative whole outlasts the transformation of a number of its individual elements and is not non-selfsufficient relative to the particular elements it has lost. There...

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