Roman Ingarden

edited by Jeff Mitscherling
   Roman Witold Ingarden was born as an Austrian subject in Kraków on 5 February 1893, during Austria's last occupation of southern Poland. His father, also named Roman Ingarden (son of Eduard Ingarden and Antonina Kasprowicz), was an engineer, and his mother, Witoslawa Radwazska (daughter of Johann and Salomea Radwazska), was a teacher. He was baptised Catholic. From 1903 to 1911 Ingarden attended secondary school and gymnasium in Lwów. In the fall of 1911 he began his university studies in the Philosophy Department of Jan Kazimierz University in Lwów , where he remained only one semester. At the end of April 1912 he went to Göttingen for the 1912 summer semester and, following the advice of Twardowski, initially chose to concentrate on psychology. But his interest in psychology as a university subject was short-lived: Ingarden was dissatisfied with the outdated manner in which G.E. Müller was directing the Institute of Psychology. Ingarden also took a lecture course from  Edmund Husserl during his first semester at Göttingen, and this appears to have led to his decision to return to the serious study of philosophy. Throughout his six remaining years in university, Ingarden's interests were to remain philosophy, mathematics, and physics.

Ingarden first met Husserl on 11 May 1912, when he registered for his summer semester lecture course on the "Theory of Judgment." He continued to attend Husserl's lectures and was also enrolled in his seminars for the next four semesters (from winter 1912/13 to summer 1914). As early as autumn 1913, Ingarden had been considering doing his doctorate under Husserl, and at the beginning of the winter 1913/14 semester he approached him about the possibility. Ingarden initially suggested that he would like to work on "the Nature of the Person" [das Wesen der Person]. Husserl was enthusiastic, but when he said that the topic would demand five years' work, Ingarden, feeling he could not afford to spend that much time in completing the degree, suggested the alternative topic of "Intuition and Intellect in Bergson," which Husserl accepted. In the winter semester of 1914/15, Ingarden studied mathematics and physics at the University of Vienna, returning to Göttingen in the summer semester of 1915 to register for Husserl's lecture and seminar. Sickness forced Ingarden to return to Poland for the 1915/1916 winter semester, but he returned to Göttingen at the end of February 1916 only to find that Husserl had just accepted the post as Heinrich Rickert's successor at Freiburg. In April 1916 Ingarden followed Husserl to Freiburg, where he attended his summer 1916 and winter 1916/17 lectures. During the spring and summer of 1916, Ingarden was Husserl's chief philosophical companion. Over these months the two of them came to spend more and more time together, with Ingarden eventually accompanying Husserl home after each lecture. It finally became the practice for Ingarden to visit with Husserl every evening, often staying so late that Malvine, Edmund's wife, would have to interrupt and send him home. When Edith Stein arrived in the fall of 1916, the three of them formed what Ingarden was later to refer to as "a small colony of Göttingeners in Freiburg." Ingarden's conversations with Husserl throughout 1916 apparently returned again and again to the treatment of two multifaceted problems arising from the Logical Investigations and Ideas I--namely, the nature, origin, and 'location' of the data of sensation, and the question of the identity of the 'pure I'. These conversations not only provided Husserl the opportunity to clarify to himself his position on these matters--according to the accounts of all of his close students, he very much valued such conversations for precisely that reason--but also suggested to Ingarden the origin of much of his own dissatisfaction with Husserl's suggested idealist solution.

At the beginning of January 1917 Ingarden went back to Kraków. He returned to Freiburg at the end of September to submit his completed dissertation, entitled Intuition und Intellekt bei Henri Bergson. Darstellung und Versuch einer Kritik [Intuition and intellect in Bergson: Exposition and Attempt at a Criticism], and the examination took place on 16 January 1918. The doctorate was officially granted on 23 February 1918, and the dissertation was published in 1921.

At the end of July 1918, shortly after he had returned to the newly re-established state of Poland, Ingarden, writing from Kolskie (where he was on "some private teaching assignment"), sent a lengthy letter to Husserl, stating a number of criticisms of Husserl's idealism. This letter constitutes Ingarden's first written criticism of Husserl's position. He tells Husserl he is "going to Lublin in the fall" and wants "to use the time at Lublin to write in all peacefulness a work about the method and meaning of epistemology." He spent the fall of 1918 and the winter of 1919 in Lublin doing precisely that--a part of the work was published two years later under the title "On the Danger of Petitio Principii in Epistemology" --and teaching at two schools, Szkola Lubelska and Szkola Realna. During this time he also wrote and published "The Goals of Phenomenologists", which he originally hoped to rework as an "Introduction to Phenomenology". In 1919 Ingarden married Maria Pol, a school doctor, and their first child, Roman Stanislaw, was born 1 October 1920. The academic years 1919/20 and 1920/21 Ingarden spent teaching mathematics and psychology at St. Adalbert Gymnasium in  Warsaw ; each academic year he taught fourteen hours a week and was tutor for a group. In a letter of reference dated 1 August 1923, W. Górski, Director of the St. Adalbert Gymnasium, praises Ingarden both as a teacher and as a person, and explains that he had to leave the gymnasium because they were unable to find a proper apartment for him. In 1921 Ingarden moved to Torun, where he was employed as instructor in mathematics and introductory philosophy at the State Gymnasium (Gimnazjum Panstwowe) from 1 August 1921 to August 1925. During his four years in Torun, Ingarden was "philosophically . . . almost totally isolated": there existed at that time no university in Torun, and the two libraries (of the gymnasium and the Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft) held few philosophy books. Moreover, as his teaching duties demanded some thirty hours a week, these four years were not especially conducive to his own research. But this period was by no means totally unproductive: not only was he able to complete his Habilitationschrift by the summer of 1923 (more about this below), but the Ingardens' second child, Jerzy Kazimierz, was born in Torun on 19 October 1921, and their third, Janusz, on 1 August 1923. It was also during this period at Torun that Ingarden first met Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy).

Upon completion of the doctorate, Ingarden spent several years--roughly an entire decade--on the consideration of external perception and related problems of constitution, and eventually problems of ontology. These interests are clearly reflected in his teaching and research activities. In early 1923 Ingarden delivered a paper at the First Congress of Polish Philosophy in Lwów entitled (in Polish) "Whether and How the Objectivity of External Perception May Be Proved." In the 1926 summer semester he lectured on external perception, and when he briefly (1927/28) left UJK on a research grant for (see below) he took his notes on external perception with him. Among the notes on lectures taken by Stefan Swiezawski in Lwów from 1925 to 1929, we find notes on the following lectures by Ingarden at UJK: October 1925, "The Most Important Directions of Contemporary Theory of Knowledge"; 12 and 15 October 1926: "The Problems of the Objectivity of Sense-Perception"; 7 December 1928: a lecture on Husserl; 24 January 1929: "Exercises from Husserl". (Provocatively, in his notes on the 7 December 1928 lecture on Husserl, Swiezawski wrote: "... according to Husserl, we are in doubt about the existence of the real world.").

As mentioned above, Ingarden completed his Habilitationsschrift, "Essentiale Fragen. Ein Beitrag zum Wesensproblem", in the summer of 1923, at which time he sent it to Twardowski in Lwów, but it was not until 27 June 1924 that the Colloquium (in defence of the Habilitationsschrift) was held, at the Philosophy Faculty of Jan Kazimierz University (UJK) in Lwów. The Habilitationsschrift was published the next year in the Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung. Ingarden's inaugural address, entitled Über die Stellung der Erkenntnistheorie im System der Philosophie, was published by Niemeyer in Halle in 1925. On 4 March 1925 the Ministry of Religion and Public Education formally acknowledged Ingarden's defence of his Habilitationsschrift and officially recognized him as Docent of Philosophy in the Humanities Faculty of UJK. He moved to Lwów that summer; his teaching career as Docent at UJK began in the winter semester of 1925/26 and lasted until December 1933 (when he was appointed Extraordinary Professor). Ingarden supplemented his income by teaching at gymnasiums: at State Gymnasium I from September 1925 to August 1928, then from 1 September 1928 to 11 December 1933 at State Gymnasium II.

From September 1927 to March 1928 Ingarden was on leave from teaching, having received a research grant to work on Das literarische Kunstwerk, an "Analysis of External Perception," and an "Examination of the Foundation of Epistemology." On 1 September 1927 he left Lwów to visit Husserl in Freiburg, where he remained for two months. He was able to speak 'almost daily' with Husserl following Husserl's return from the Black Forest in mid-September, and on occasion with other phenomenologists, including Fritz Kaufmann, Oskar Becker, and Ludwig Landgrebe. At the beginning of November, Ingarden moved on to Marburg, where he remained until mid-December. In her letter of 20 December, Edith Stein assures Ingarden that he will not feel as lonely in Paris as he had in Freiburg and Marburg, so we can safely assume that Ingarden had far less contact with others than he had probably hoped. Indeed he remarks that beyond the progress he made on Das literarische Kunstwerk, which he worked on constantly throughout his six weeks in Marburg, his stay there was unproductive. From the latter half of December 1927 until early March 1928 Ingarden was in Paris, where he finally completed Das literarische Kunstwerk. On his way back to Lwów in March he visited the Husserls in Freiburg. Husserl was occupied with preparing lectures he was to present in Holland, but nevertheless devoted the better part of two days to the careful reading of Ingarden's manuscript. Ingarden had to cut short his visit after only three days because all three of his children were ill. He returned to Lwów and shortly thereafter resumed his duties at State Gymnasium II and UJK. He was to visit with Husserl only three more times, and each time briefly: for the celebration of his seventieth birthday in April 1929, in September 1934, and in January 1936.

On 12 December 1933 Ingarden was officially relieved of his teaching duties at State Gymnasium II and was appointed Extraordinary Professor at UJK. On 27 October the President of Poland had granted him the title Extraordinary Professor of Philosophy. His duties were specified by the President as including research, lectures, and classes in philosophy as needed by the Philosophy Faculty, leading a seminar in connection with his position as chair of a department, and all academic work connected with the post of university professor. He was to hold a minimum of five hours of lecture and two hours of seminar a week during the academic year. Ingarden held the position of Extraordinary Professor at UJK until 22 September 1939. While a Docent and, subsequently, a Professor at UJK, his lecture topics ranged from "Main Problems of Ethics" (1930/31) and "Selected Problems of Contemporary Ethics" (1937/38) to problems regarding external sense perception and critical remarks on the theory of knowledge. In 1935 he began Controversy over the Existence of the World, hoping to have the opportunity to show it to Husserl, for whom, as Ingarden tells us, he began the work in the first place. His work on Controversy was soon interrupted, however, because he felt compelled to address certain problems of the cognition of the literary text; this led to his writing The Cognition of the Literary Work of Art. By 1938 he was able to return to Controversy. During 1938/39, by way of further preparatory research, he devoted himself to the study of Aristotle's metaphysics, offering a "free seminar" on the subject, and in 1939/40 he offered a "special seminar" on the idealism/realism problem.

In 1939, following the death of Jagiellonian University (UJ) Professor Rubczynski, Ingarden applied to UJ. While his application was successful, the war forced UJ to close and no appointment was made. On 11 January 1940 the Russian government nominated Ingarden as Professor in the Department of German Philology in the Philology Faculty at the (now renamed) I. Francki University of Lwów. He lectured in that capacity until 28 June 1941, when the university closed due to the outbreak of the German-Soviet conflict (Lwów was to be occupied by the Germans), and was unemployed until January 1942; from January 1942 to spring 1944 he was an instructor at the Chemical School (Szkola Chemiczna) in Lwów, offering courses preparatory for professional school and holding secret lectures at the university. (While all universities in Poland had been closed by the occupying forces, professors continued to give underground instruction throughout the war, often at great personal risk.) In May 1944 Ingarden's house in Lwów was bombed, forcing him to leave Lwów at the end of the month for Pieskowa Skala, where, until the following January, he pursued his own academic research and offered secret instruction in mathematics to secondary-school students lodged in an orphanage. During the last years of the war Ingarden was finally able to complete the first two volumes of Controversy over the Existence of the World, which were published in 1947 and 1948, respectively. On 1 February 1945 Ingarden departed for UJ, where he was briefly employed as lecturer and then, on 12 June 1946, appointed Ordinary Professor.

During the academic year of 1948/49 Ingarden lectured at UJ on "the research of many years on external perception," which he had done some twenty-two years earlier while still in Lwów. It was due to events that began in this year that Ingarden's career at UJ was to be interrupted less than five years after it had begun. Stalinization began around 1948; in the arts and humanities its effects began to be felt around 1949, in the sciences around 1949-1950. It was to come to an end in October 1956, when Gomulka became First Secretary, but it claimed countless victims in the nine years of its existence. In a statement of "Opinion" issued in 1949 (probably­memoranda were commonly undated during this period, as is this one), Bogdan Kadziorek, then First Secretary of the Communist Party of UJ, denounced Ingarden at length and in no uncertain terms, labelling him an "idealist," an "enemy of materialism," and "a deliberate, conscious enemy from whom the Department [of Philosophy] should be taken away." Had Ingarden not enjoyed considerable academic prominence the vehemence of Kadziorek's denunciation might well have rendered him one of the countless victims of Stalinization who simply vanished. Instead, Ingarden was bureaucratically shuffled around the university, deprived of status and the authority to teach, and eventually transferred officially to the University of Warsaw (although he continued to reside in Kraków): At the beginning of 1949, an attempt was made to have him transferred to the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science. By December 1949 he had been forbidden to teach, removed from the Chair of Philosophy, and appointed temporary Chair of German Philology. The Philosophy Department itself had ceased to exist by September 1950, to be replaced by the Department of the Basis of Marxism in 1951. In late 1950, it was suggested that Ingarden be transferred to the Department of Logic; he was put on fully paid leave of absence for the academic years 1950/51 and 1951/52. In November 1951 he was transferred to the University of Warsaw and appointed editor-in-chief of the Library of Philosophical Classics (Biblioteka klasyków filozofii) series issued by the State Publishing Institute (Pa stwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe - PWN) in Warsaw. The picture that emerges from the UJ documentation dealing with this period is that the university administration simply didn't know what to do with him. It also seems that no one really paid too much attention to what he did or where he was, as long as he kept out of the way. Ingarden continued to reside in Kraków, although he had no official connection with UJ from November 1951 to early 1957. During these years, while working in his official capacity of editor-in-chief of the Library of Philosophical Classics, he completed the translation into Polish of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

In February 1957 Ingarden was re-appointed Professor at UJ in the Department of Logic in the Faculty of Philosophy and History. Seven months later, on 1 September, the Department of Philosophy was re-established and Ingarden was again appointed Chair. He remained Chair for six years, until his retirement on 30 September 1963. Upon his return to UJ in 1957, Ingarden had begun to publish, through the PWN in Warsaw, his collected Philosophical Works (Dzila Filozoficzne)--including the first two volumes of Studies in Aesthetics (Studia z estetyki, 1957 and 1958), the second release of the first two volumes of Controversy (1960 and 1961), and Studies in Contemporary Philosophy (Z badan nad filozofie wspólczesna 1963)--and to speak more frequently at international conferences. He energetically engaged in both pursuits over the next thirteen years, his various activities covering an immensely broad range of interests. On 27 May 1957 he delivered a paper at Royaumont on the problem of constitution in Husserl. (This was some forty years after he had first grappled with this problem. He returned to it ten years later, in his Oslo lectures of 1967 entitled Einführung in die Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls in which he systematically, and at length, restated his criticisms of Husserl's idealism.) At the end of August 1958 he participated in an Arbeitsgemeinschaft in Alpach dealing with the question "What is Freedom?" From late 1959 to early 1960 Ingarden undertook an ill-fated lecture tour in the U.S.A., speaking on topics as diverse as the poetics of Aristotle and the relativity of value. He was surprised and disappointed to discover that his philosophical audience in the States was so unsympathetic to phenomenology. Analytic philosophy, strongly influenced by the same positivism that had plagued Polish philosophy both before and after World War II, had already come to dominate most philosophy departments. After returning to Kraków, he offered a lecture course at UJ entitled "Outline of Ethics." Less than a year later, on 12 September 1962, he participated in a conference at Oxford dealing with the topic of "Thinking and Meaning." In 1963, at the University of Vienna, Ingarden was awarded the Gottfried-von-Herder Prize "for his philosophical activities promoting friendship among nations." In September 1968 he returned to Vienna to deliver "two lectures at the International Congress of Philosophy ... one on aesthetics, the other on general philosophical subjects." The next year, in March 1969, at the Institute of Aesthetics of the University of Amsterdam, he delivered a paper entitled "Die Phänomenologische Aesthetik." Ingarden planned to return to North America six months later--a notably courageous decision, given his experience of a decade earlier--to attend the International Phenomenology Conference held 9-14 April 1969 at Waterloo, Ontario, where he was scheduled to deliver a paper entitled "What's New in Husserl's Last Work?" Unfortunately, he could not obtain the necessary visas in time and was unable to attend. In that paper, he acknowledged that Husserl had gone some way toward recognizing the problems Ingarden had pointed out to him as early as 1918, but he also remarked, with a note of regret, that he and Husserl, his mentor and friend, had failed to reach agreement on the fundamental issue of the idealism/realism debate.

Roman Ingarden died suddenly and unexpectedly, of cerebral hemorrhage, in Kraków on 14 June 1970.

Documentation and further details may be found in Jeff Mitscherling, Roman Ingarden's Ontology and Aesthetics Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1997 (see the contents of the book).

Extended Bibliography of Ingarden's Works

 Documentation on Ingarden

Ingarden's Letters to Kazimierz Twardowski
An opinion by Ingarden about Witkiewicz

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