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Challenging Ingarden’s ‘Radical’ Distinction between the Real and the Literary

Journal: Horizon. Studies in Phenomenology (Vol.9, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 703-728

Keywords : Ingarden’s aesthetics; Ingarden’s ontology; real and literary objects; spots of indeterminacy; finitude and infinitude; truth in literature;

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Ingarden's phenomenology of aesthetics is characterised primarily as a realist ontological approach which is secondarily concerned with acts of consciousness. This approach leads to a stark contrast between spatiotemporal objects and literary objects. Ontologically, the former is autonomous, totally determined, and in possession of infinite attributes, whilst the latter is a heteronomous intentional object that has only limited determinations and infinitely many “spots of indeterminacy.” Although spots of indeterminacy are often discussed, the role they play in contrasting the real and literary object is not often disputed. Through a close reading of Ingarden's ontological works and texts on aesthetics, this essay contests the purity of Ingarden's ontological approach and the ensuing disparity between real and literary object, particularly on the question of spots of indeterminacy. I do this by demonstrating the following five theses: 1) Ingarden's claim that the real object has an infinitude of properties belies an epistemology, and we should instead conclude that ontologically the real object's properties are finite. 2) Ingarden's a priori argument that absent properties of real objects are ontologically determined is unsound. 3) The radical difference between the infinitude and finitude of givenness and absence of the real and the literary object ought to be relativised. 4) Indeterminacies within the novel are concretised in much the same way that absent properties of real objects are intended. 5) Literature makes claims that have a truth value that we can attribute to their author.

Last modified: 2021-01-14 01:12:24