Truth and Sincerity: The Concept of Truth in Levinas’ Philosophy

  • Shojiro Kotegawa
Part of the Contributions To Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 101)


Emmanuel Levinas is known for his idea of ethics as first philosophy. In Totality and Infinity (1961), he expresses this concept with the phrase “truth presupposes justice”. Levinas’ ethical thought has been much discussed in previous literature. However, its implications for contemporary theories of truth have not been discussed at length. This paper aims to investigate how far Levinas’ reinterpretation of truth ranges from a phenomenological point of view. In the first section, by reading closely the first section of Totality and Infinity I disclose some peculiarities of Levinas’ concept of truth: (1) the “I” as a knowing subject is separated from the world. (2) truth is accomplished by discourse towards the other person. (3) to attain to the truth, the “I” needs to justify not only the fact that he or she describes but also himself or herself. By putting these three points in relation to Husserl’s analysis of communication and that of B. Williams in his Truth and Truthfulness, the second section shows that Levinas’ concept of truth, which may seem bizarre to some, can contribute to contemporary theories of truth insofar as it reinterprets the concept of truth from the perspective of a “personal” relation to the other person to whom the “I” speaks.


Truth Sincerity Face-to-face relation Discourse towards the other person E. Levinas B. Williams 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shojiro Kotegawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyKokugakuin UniversityTokyoJapan

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