Roman Ingarden’s Philosophy of Literature

A Phenomenological Account


In Roman Ingarden’s Philosophy of Literature Wojciech Chojna discusses Ingarden’s theory of literary works and develops a phenomenological account of identity which accommodates differences in interpretations and value judgments without succumbing to relativism. The latter is overcome not through falling back on essentialism but from within relativism.

Literature offers us diverse experiences changing our perceptions of ourselves and the worlds we live in. Absolutism proclaiming unmitigated access to the meaning of literary texts is intolerant of differences and leads to violence in life. Conversely, relativism, in the illusory spirit of radical tolerance, turns meanings and values into historically contingent, incompatible interpretations, where communication and reconciliation is impossible, thus justifying ideological conflicts and violence.

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Biographical Note

Wojciech Chojna, Ph.D. (1992), Temple University, Professor, Pasco-Hernando State College, USA; published articles and translations on aesthetics and philosophy, including “Phenomenological Redescription of Violence” in Justice, Law and Violence (Temple University Press, 1991), “Philosophy and the Modern World” in the Kwartalnik Filozoficzny (2006, translation).

Table of contents

 Ingarden’s Relevance Today

1 Introduction to the Concept of Identity
 Some Traditional Approaches
 Ingarden’s General Ontology

2 Nature and Identity of a Literary Work in American Aesthetics
 Nelson Goodman’s Syntactical Identity
 Richard Wolheim’s Amendment
 Semantic Accounts
 Joseph Margolis’s Culturally Emergent Objects

3 Phenomenological Concept of Identity
 Identity of a Perceptual Object
 The Concept of Intentionality
 The Concept of Constitution
 Ideality and Identity of the Objectivities of Understanding
 Husserl’s Theory of Meaning
 Ingarden’s Objections to Husserl’s Transcendental Idealism
 Hermeneutic Challenges against the Possibility of Transcendental Phenomenology

4 Literary Work as a Schematic Structure
 The Notion of a ‘Purely Intentional Object’
 Structure of a Literary Work of Art
The Stratum of Linguistic Sound Formations
The Stratum of Meanings
Meanings of Sentences
The Stratum of Presented Objects
The Stratum of Schematized Aspects
 Objections to Ingarden’s Conception of the Four Strata of Literary Work
 The Order of Sequence of Parts

5 Aesthetic Experience and Life of a Literary Work of Art
 Aesthetic Experience
 Problems Pertaining to Aesthetic Experience
 Pre-aesthetic Cognition of a Literary Work of Art
 Cognition of an Aesthetic Object
 The Work and Its Concretizations
 ‘Life’ of a Literary Work of Art

6 Values of Literary Work of Art
 Artistic and Aesthetic Values
 The Stratum of Sounds and Its Function in the Constitution of Aesthetic Qualities
 The Stratum of Meanings and Its Function in the Constitution of Aesthetic Qualities
 De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
 Metaphysical Qualities
 Poetry as a Means of Cognition

7 The Identity of a Literary Work of Art
 Identity of Sounds
 Identity of Meanings
 Dialectics of Identity
 Subjectivism, Relativism and Identity




All interested in aesthetics, philosophy of literature, Husserl, Ingarden, phenomenology and its application to literature and art, interpretation of texts, and values of literature, ideological conflicts, and violence.

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