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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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XVII. Application of the Formal‐Ontological Results to the Problem of the Existence of the World

Chapter XVII [373]


The long sequence of formal-ontological analyses has to a certain degree moved the principal problem of the controversy between idealism and realism over the existence of the world into the background of our theoretical field of vision. It was often necessary to get into details which taken for themselves do not appear to have any great significance for the principal problem. They were however necessary for a clear grasp of the complicated and frequently confusedly presented issues and for substantiating theses that are important to us. ˹Failing to take them into account would evince still greater gaps in our deliberations than the ones that my analysis had to leave behind anyway.˺1 But I did not take up these difficult investigations for no reason. For it is they that first enable us to procure a genuine basis, brought to relative clarity, for the entire problematic, and to shift the discussion from the state of vague generalities, nebulous concepts, and theoretical notions that have not been thought through, onto the terrain of rigorously formulated questions and unequivocally determined concepts.2 Thus, it is now time to ponder the consequences that follow from the insights we have gained for the problematic of our Controversy, and to survey the possible solutions from a formal-ontological perspective. Toward that end it will first be useful to assemble the theses that are most important for these consequences.

Since from the very beginning I reckoned on the real world that is given to us being a...

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