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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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XVI. The Problem of the Form of Pure Consciousness

Chapter XVI


In the expectation that the real world comprises an existential domain, and a domain of a rather special type at that, I have attempted to set forth all those forms that it is indispensable to be familiar with for a possible ontology of the form of such a domain – of a world, in particular. But the real world makes up only one component in the overall context of our principal problem. Pure consciousness comprises the other. At the same time, it comprises that component whose acceptance serves as the point of support for unfolding the problem-complex that pertains to the existence of the world, a component that is accessible to us in immanent cognition. So claim at least those who since Descartes’ times unfold the problematic of the existence of the world on the so-called “transcendental” terrain. If that is so, then – as is to be expected – we can reap indubitable cognitive results pertaining to the essence of pure consciousness, and in particular, pertaining to its form. But grasping this [260] form is indispensable to us, since the existential relation between the world and pure consciousness depends in its type on the relation between the forms of both these entities. Hence, clarifying the form of pure consciousness will help us get oriented concerning which of the already indicated solutions of our principal problem is ˹in principle possible˺1.

Toward this end, it is first of all necessary to become familiar with some essential features of pure consciousness.

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