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Controversy over the Existence of the World

Volume I

Series:

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 III: Basic Existential Concepts

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Chapter III Basic Existential Concepts § 10. The Problem of the Possibility of Analyzing Existence Following the preliminary formulation of the problem, the question we face is whether to accept a real world that is “existentially independent” of pure con- sciousness, or one that is “existentially dependent” on it207. It is therefore neces- sary to clarify the content of the idea ‘being-real’ as a distinctive mode of being on the one hand, and to investigate the various meaningful ways of speaking about existential dependence or independence on the other. Only after clarifying these issues will we be in a position to consider the further question as to wheth- er a “real” world (or any “real” entity whatever) can be “existentially independ- ent” of, or “dependent” on, pure consciousness, and in what sense that can be so. To that end, of course, the idea of the distinctive mode of being of pure con- sciousness must also be investigated – provided there is such an idea at all. And we must also take into account the ideas of all the remaining possible modes of being. For, a consistently and radically worked out transcendental idealism is inclined to reduce to pure consciousness not only the real world, but all other realms of being as well.208 The objection may perhaps be raised that it is impossible to clarify the con- tent of the idea of being-real and to articulate it conceptually. Something like “being-real” [the argument would run] is something manifestly simple and abso- lutely unique...

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