Roman Ingarden
Portrait of Roman Ingarden by Witkacy
BornFebruary 5, 1893
DiedJune 4, 1970 (aged 77)
EducationUniversity of Göttingen
University of Freiburg (PhD, 1918)
Lwów University (Dr. phil. hab., 1925)
ChildrenRoman Stanisław Ingarden
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Realist phenomenology
Doctoral advisorEdmund Husserl
Main interests
Aesthetics, epistemology, formal ontology, nature vs nurture
Notable ideas
Ontology of the work of art

Roman Witold Ingarden (/ɪnˈɡɑːrdən/; February 5, 1893 – June 14, 1970) was a Polish philosopher who worked in aesthetics, ontology, and phenomenology.

Before World War II, Ingarden published his works mainly in the German language and in books and newspapers. During the war, he switched to Polish out of solidarity with his homeland after the German invasion,[4] and as a result, his major works in ontology went largely unnoticed and undetected by the wider world and philosophical community. Nevertheless, Ingarden's writings have made some indirect cultural impact through the writings of his student and eventual Pope, Karol Wojtyla. Even though his workings didn't have a big influence on the philosophical community they still did have some influence.


Ingarden was born in Kraków, Austria-Hungary, on February 5, 1893.[5] He first studied mathematics and philosophy at the Lwów University under Kazimierz Twardowski, then moved to the University of Göttingen in Germany to study philosophy under Edmund Husserl.[6] He was considered by Husserl to be one of his best and greatest students and accompanied Husserl to the University of Freiburg, where, in 1918, Ingarden submitted his doctoral dissertation with Husserl as director.[7] The title of his thesis was Intuition und Intellekt bei Henri Bergson (Intuition and Intellect in Henri Bergson).[8] Ingarden previously suggested that he transfer to Lwów and write a new dissertation under Twardowski due to an increasing tension between Germany and Poland but Husserl refused and was uninterested.[8]

Ingarden then returned to Poland, where he spent his academic career after obtaining his doctorate. For a long period, he had to support himself by secondary-school teaching.[9] During this period, one of his works - aside from his post-doctoral work in epistemology - was a review of the Festschrift written for Twardowski. This involved an analysis of Zygmunt Lempicki's "W sprawie uzasadnienia poetyki czystej" (On the Justification of Pure Poetics).[10]

In 1925 he submitted his Habilitationschrift, Essentiale Fragen (Essential Questions), to Kazimierz Twardowski at Lwów University. This thesis was noticed by the English-speaking philosophical community.[11][12] In 1933, the university promoted him as professor of philosophy.[11] He became well known for his work on The Literary Work of Art (Das literarische Kunstwerk. Eine Untersuchung aus dem Grenzgebiet der Ontologie, Logik und Literaturwissenschaft, 1931).[7] Particularly, interest in his works increased when the English translation of this text was released.[13]

From 1939 to 1941 during the Soviet occupation of Lwów he continued his university activity and lived in the Kraków area.[11] After the Operation Barbarossa 1941 under the German occupation Ingarden secretly taught students mathematics and philosophy. After his house was bombed, he continued work on his book, The Controversy over the Existence of the World.[7]

Ingarden became a professor at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń in 1945 shortly after the war but was banned in 1946 under the Communist regime.[4] He then moved to the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, where he was offered a position.[11] In 1949, however, he was banned from teaching due to his alleged idealism, supposedly being an "enemy of materialism".[4] In 1957 he was reappointed at the Jagiellonian University after the ban was lifted, and so he went on to teach, write and publish.

Ingarden died on June 14, 1970, in Kraków as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage.[7]


Ingarden was a realist phenomenologist and thus did not accept Husserl's transcendental idealism. His training was phenomenological; thus, his work as a whole was directed towards ontology. That is why[citation needed] Ingarden is one of the most renowned phenomenological ontologists, as he strove to describe the ontological structure and state of being of various objects based on the essential features of any experience that could provide such knowledge.

The best-known works of Ingarden, and the only ones widely-known to English-speaking readers, concern aesthetics and literature. His most popular book, for instance, was The Literary Work of Art, which explored the concept of the literary work of art.[10] In this book, Ingarden argued that a literary work of art is a purely intentional object and is a product of the author's conscious acts.[10] This work would contribute to the development of the literary theory called reader-response criticism and influence scholars such as René Wellek and Wolfgang Iser.[4] Another notable notion in Ingarden's aesthetics was his idea that music is not a form of literature. He maintained that literary works have four distinct ontological strata, and one of these - the stratum of represented objectivities - is absent in musical works.[14] In his stratification of literary work of art, he cited that aesthetic value is the polyphonic harmony that arises between these strata of meaning.[15]

The exclusive focus on Ingarden's work in aesthetics does not reflect Ingarden's overall philosophical standpoint, which is focused on the ideas regarding formal, existential, and material ontology set forth in his The Controversy over the Existence of the World. In his aesthetic investigations, Ingarden considered aesthetics as an integral part of philosophy. He argued that his aesthetic theory is not only an analysis of art but an approach that answers basic philosophical issues.[16] Ingarden also attempted to establish a phenomenological circle at Lvov. The group, which focused on aesthetics and descriptive psychology, attracted some of Twardowski's students including Leopold Blaustein and Eugénie Ginsberg.[17] Ingarden was a close associate of Edith Stein. He came to her defense when her work with Husserl was challenged.[18]

Ingarden wrote his own biography in 1949. This work, which was written in third person, was one of the three biographies he submitted to Tatarkiewicz, who was then revising his Historia filozofii (History of philosophy).[8] The philosopher had also undertaken work for Husserl.[8]

Main works in German

Main works in Polish

Main works translated into English

See also


  1. ^ Moran, Dermot; Parker, Rodney K. B. (February 2016). Studia Phaenomenologica: Vol. XV / 2015 - Early Phenomenology. Zeta Books. ISBN 9786066970211.
  2. ^ Wolfgang Huemer, "Husserl's critique of psychologism and his relation to the Brentano school", in: Arkadiusz Chrudzimski and Wolfgang Huemer (eds.), Phenomenology and Analysis: Essays on Central European Philosophy, Walter de Gruyter, 2004, p. 210.
  3. ^ "Roman Witold Ingarden | Życie i twórczość | Artysta". (in Polish). Retrieved 29 May 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Buchanan, Ian (2010). A Dictionary of Critical Theory. Oxford: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 247. ISBN 978-0-19-953291-9.
  5. ^ Stein, Edith (2014). Edith Stein: Letters to Roman Ingarden: Edith Stein: Self-Portrait in Letters; The Collected Works volume 12. Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-939272-25-6.
  6. ^ Peterson, Keith; Poli, Roberto (2016). New Research on the Philosophy of Nicolai Hartmann. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. p. 171. ISBN 978-3-11-044102-4.
  7. ^ a b c d "Roman Ingarden (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)". Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d Mitscherling, Jeffrey Anthony (1997). Roman Ingarden's Ontology and Aesthetics. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. pp. 16, 31. ISBN 0-7766-0435-X.
  9. ^ Tymieniecka, Anna-Teresa (2014). Phenomenology World-Wide: Foundations — Expanding Dynamics — Life-Engagements A Guide for Research and Study. Dordrecht: Springer. p. 184. ISBN 978-94-007-0472-5.
  10. ^ a b c Dziemidok, Bohdan; McCormick, Peter (1989). On the Aesthetics of Roman Ingarden: Interpretations and Assessments. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 13, 101. ISBN 978-94-010-7511-4.
  11. ^ a b c d Porębski, Czesław (2019). Lectures on Polish Value Theory. Leiden: BRILL. p. 125. ISBN 978-90-04-39432-2.
  12. ^ See the review by Gilbert Ryle, Mind, 36, 1927, pp. 366–370.
  13. ^ Ingarden, Roman; Czerniawski, Adam; Harrell, Jean G. (1986). The Work of Music: and the Problem of its Identity. Cham: Springer. pp. vii. ISBN 978-1-349-09254-3.
  14. ^ Elsby, Charlene; Massecar, Aaron (2016). Essays on Aesthetic Genesis. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-7618-6769-2.
  15. ^ Davies, Stephen; Higgins, Kathleen Marie; Hopkins, Robert; Stecker, Robert; Cooper, David E. (2009). A Companion to Aesthetics. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-4443-1042-9.
  16. ^ Tymieniecka, Anna-Teresa (2012). Phenomenology of Life in a Dialogue Between Chinese and Occidental Philosophy, Volume XVII. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company. p. 271. ISBN 978-94-009-6262-0.
  17. ^ Poli, Roberto (1997). In Itinere: European Cities and the Birth of Modern Scientific Philosophy. Amsterdam: Rodopi. p. 173. ISBN 90-420-0201-8.
  18. ^ Stein, Edith (24 November 2017). Life in a Jewish Family: An Autobiography, 1891-1916 (The Collected Works of Edith Stein, vol. 1). ICS Publications. ISBN 978-1-939272-46-1.

Further reading