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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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Appendix B [Ch. III, § 17, n. 280]


⌜However, the attempt to resolve the question in accordance with this interpreta- tion poses the danger of committing all kinds of errors in the entire constellation of problems pertaining to idealism and realism, errors that would at once lead the investigations astray. In particular, the existential-ontological problem of actuality in this interpretation is in danger of being transformed into a termino- logical issue, which is simultaneously intertwined in a peculiar fashion with a particular metaphysical commitment. Hence, e.g., various “idealists,” commenc- ing with Berkeley, assure us that by adopting an idealist position they accom- plish nothing beyond eliminating a certain false usage of the word ‘actuality.’ Presumably this word is employed in everyday, prephilosophical discourse in a sense that idealist theory rejects as unfounded. In its proper, correct interpreta- tion “actuality” means – so it is said – nothing other than the mode of being of the world factually given us in experience, and in particular – the mode of being of the things we perceive through the senses. At the same time, this mode of be- ing is to be nothing other than what the given idealist theory proclaims it to be, and thus – in the sense of Berkeley’s position – esse = percipi923. In this way, one forestalls in advance the objection that theory clashes starkly with everyday experience – by simply calling “actuality” something entirely different than is ordinarily done, and denying the charge of any sort of conflict between theory and the prescientific, everyday view. On the other hand, the metaphysical prob-...

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