Before World War II, Ingarden published his works mainly in the German language. During the war, he switched to Polish, and as a result his major works in ontology went largely unnoticed by the wider world philosophical community.
Ingarden was born in Kraków, Austria-Hungary, on February 5, 1893. He first studied mathematics and philosophy at the Lwów University under Kazimierz Twardowski, then moved to Göttingen to study philosophy under Edmund Husserl. He was considered by Husserl to be one of his best students and accompanied Husserl to the University of Freiburg, where in 1918 Ingarden submitted his doctoral dissertation with Husserl as director. The title of his thesis was Intuition und Intellekt bei Henri Bergson ("Intuition and Intellect in Henri Bergson").
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. 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. In 1933 the University promoted him to professor. 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).
From 1939 to 1941 during the Soviet occupation of Lwów he continued his university activity. 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.
Ingarden became a professor at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń in 1945 shortly after the war, but was banned in 1946 because of the Communist government. He then moved to the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, where he was offered a position. In 1949, however, he was banned from teaching due to his alleged idealism, supposedly being an "enemy of materialism". 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 as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Ingarden was a realist phenomenologist, and thus did not accept Husserl's transcendental idealism. His training was phenomenological; nonetheless, his work as a whole was directed towards ontology. That is why 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. 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 Controversy over the Existence of the World.
Main works in German
Intuition und Intellekt bei Henri Bergson, Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1921
Essentiale Fragen. Ein Beitrag zum Problem des Wesens, Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1925
Das literarische Kunstwerk. Eine Untersuchung aus dem Grenzgebiet der Ontologie, Logik und Literaturwissenschaft, Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1931
Untersuchungen zur Ontologie der Kunst: Musikwerk. Bild. Architektur. Film, Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1962
Der Streit um die Existenz der Welt, Bd. I, II/I, II/2. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1964
Vom Erkennen des literarischen Kunstwerks, Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1968
Erlebnis, Kunstwerk und Wert. Vorträge zur Ästhetik 1937-1967, Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1969
Über die Verantwortung. Ihre ontischen Fundamente, Stuttgart: Reclam, 1970
Über die kausale Struktur der realen Welt. Der Streit um die Existenz der Welt, Band III, Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1974
Main works in Polish
Niektóre założenia idealizmu Berkeley'a [Some of the Tenets of Berkeley’s Idealism]. Lwów. 1931.
O poznawaniu dzieła literackiego (The Cognition of the Literary Work of Art), Ossolineum, Lwów: 1937
O budowie obrazu. Szkic z teorii sztuki (On the Structure of Paintings: A Sketch of the Theory of Art), Rozprawy Wydziału Filozoficznego PAU Vol. LXVII, No.2, Kraków, 1946
O dziele architektury (On Architectural Works), Nauka i Sztuka, Vol. II, 1946, No. 1, pp. 3-26 and No. 2, pp. 26-51
Spór o istnienie Świata (Controversy over the Existence of the World), PAU, Vol. I, Kraków: 1947, Vol. II, Kraków, 1948
Szkice z filozofii literatury (Sketches on the Philosophy of Literature), Vol. 1, Spółdzielnia wydawnicza "Polonista," Łódz, 1947
Elementy dzieła muzycznego (The Elements of Musical Works), Sprawozdania Towarzystwa Naukowego w Toruniu, Vol. IX, 1955, Nos. 1-4, pp. 82-84
Studia z estetyki (Studies in Aesthetics), PWN, Vol. I Warszawa, 1957, Vol. II, Warszawa, 1958
O dziele literackim (On Literary Works). PWN, Warszawa, 1960
Przeżycie - dzieło - wartość (Experience - Work of Art - Value). Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków, 1966
Studia z estetyki Tom III (Studies in Aesthetics, Vol. III), PWN, Warszawa, 1970
U podstaw teorii poznania (At the Foundations of the Theory of Knowledge), PWN, Warszawa, 1971
Książeczka o człowieku (Little Book About Man), Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków, 1972.
Utwór muzyczny i sprawa jego tożsamości (The Work of Music and the Problem of Its Identity), Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, Warszawa, 1973.
Main works translated into English
Controversy over the Existence of the World. Volumes I and II, translated by Arthur Szylewicz, Bern: Peter Lang, 2013 / 2016.
Time and Modes of Being, (selection from Der Streit, translated by Helen R. Michejda. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1964.
The Cognition of the Literary Work of Art, Translated by Ruth Ann Crowley and Kenneth R. Olson. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1973
The Literary Work of Art, Translated by George G. Grabowicz. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1973
Letter to Husserl about the VI [Logical] Investigation and ‘Idealism’ In Tymieniecka, 1976
Man and Value, Translated by Arthur Szylewicz. München: Philosophia Verlag, 1983
On the Motives which led Edmund Husserl to Transcendental Idealism, Translated by Arnor Hannibalsson. The Hague: 1976
The Ontology of the Work of Art, Translated by Raymond Meyer with John T. Goldthwait. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1989
Selected Papers in Aesthetics, Ed. by Peter J. McCormick, München: Philosophia Verlag,1985
The Work of Music and the Problem of Its Identity, Translated by Adam Czerniawski. London: Macmillan, 1986.
^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.
^See the review by Gilbert Ryle, Mind, 36, 1927, pp. 366–370.
J. Mitscherling Roman Ingarden's Ontology and Aesthetics, Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1997.
Robert Magliola, "Part II, Chapter 2: Roman Ingarden," in Robert Magliola, Phenomenology and Literature: An Introduction (Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1977; 1978), pp. 107-141 [see review by W. Wolfgang Holdheim in Diacritics, Vol. 9, No. 2 (summer 1979), via JSTOR, here [www.jstor.org]].