“Ingarden held that philosophy divides into ontology and metaphysics. Ontology is an autonomous discipline in which we discover and establish the necessary connections between pure ideal qualities by intuitive analysis of the contents of ideas. This is an indispensable preparation for metaphysics, which aims to elucidate the necessary truths of factual existence. Each section of philosophy – theory of knowledge, philosophy of man, philosophy of nature and so on – has ontological and metaphysical aspects.

Ingarden argues that every being is a triple unity of matter (contents), form (of the matter) and existence (in a certain mode). Accordingly, ontology as a whole is divided into material, formal and existential ontology. Existence is neither a property nor one of the material or formal moments of an object; it is always the existence of something and what exists determines by its essence a mode of being which belongs to it. Modes of being are constituted from existential ‘moments’, of which Ingarden distinguishes the following opposite pairs: originality-derivativity, autonomy-heteronomy, distinctiveness-connectiveness and independence-dependence. Taking into account the modes of being thus constituted, there are four basic spheres of being: absolute (supratemporal), ideal (timeless), real (temporal – it has the most numerous forms) and purely intentional (atemporal, sometimes seemingly in time). Ingarden also draws a distinction between three domains: pure ideal qualities, ideas and individual objects. Each individual object is formally a subject of properties whose identity is determined by its constitutive nature. Individual objects of higher order, such as organisms, may be superstructured on autonomous individual objects. Ideas and purely intentional beings have a two-sided formal constitution – besides their own structure they also have contents (in the case of ideas it is constituted by constants and variables, and in the case of purely intentional beings by places of indeterminateness).

Analyses of being in time, of the stream of consciousness and of the world show that their existence is derivative and depends on their relation to original (absolute) being. The foundation of being is placed either in its essence (and ultimately in the content of some idea) or is purely factual in its character. In his analysis of the controversy over the existence of the world, Ingarden first formulates Husserl’s transcendental starting point, and then demonstrates and states precisely its assumptions concerning the two elements of initial relation: the real world and the stream of consciousness, together with a subject which belongs to it (pure ego). These considerations lead Ingarden to reject both Husserl’s solution and his way of setting the question.

What is real appears in three temporal phases: the future, the present and the past. Objects determined in time include objects enduring in time, processes and events. A human being is an object enduring in time and constituted by a soul, which comprises an ego together with a stream of consciousness, and a body (with a subsystem constituting ‘the gate of consciousness’). Living on the border of two spheres, the real (nature, animality), and the ideal (values), human beings create a third sphere of culture. Thus their need to transcend this fragility by a process of self-formation that is subordinated to values makes them prone to tragedy.”

From: Ingarden, Roman Witold (1893-1970) – by Antoni B. Stepien – Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy p. 790.


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