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Controversy over the Existence of the World

Volume I


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 I, which receives here its first complete and critical translation into English, initiates the grand project of refuting transcendental idealism, and begins by setting the foundations for an elaborate and precise ontological system. This is Ingarden’s greatest accomplishment, who is rather known as a theoretician of literature than an ontologist outside of Poland. 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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Chapter II Partition of the Three Major Problem Groups


§ 4. Introductory Remarks In order to unravel the whole gamut of problems that interest us and to partition them into sharply distinct groups, it is first of all necessary to distinguish the basic types of philosophical problems, whereby their fundamental distinctness from the problems belonging to the special sciences must also be explained. However, the history of the idealism/realism Controversy indicates clearly enough that this problem has to be developed on the terrain of philosophical re- flection. But could not those “positive” special sciences that pertain to the real contribute something toward the solution of our Controversy? We must respond that these sciences always address factual [or: matter-of-fact] situations [fak- tische Tatbestände] within the real world, and never concern themselves with the world as a whole.77 Indeed, they never make the existence of the latter into an issue, but rather tacitly presuppose it. In their individual studies they simply investigate whether and under what conditions this or that particular fact ob- tains, and inquire into the lawful regularities that govern the processes and oc- currences in the world. ⌜But all of this can go neither toward substantiating the tacitly acknowledged existence of the world, nor toward casting doubt on it.⌝78 77 Even the cosmological problems that have recently surfaced on the terrain of astronomy and astrophysics pertain at bottom to only a part of the cosmos: the material world. But on this terrain they are getting decidedly closer to metaphysical problems. 78 Accumulating an increasingly greater quantity of...

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