Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gelven, Michael

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Philosophy


Husserl; Edmund; 1859-1938; Heidegger; Martin; 1889-1976; Phenomenology; Truth


The following is a systematic, comparative study of a central, concept—truth--in the philosophies of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. It also traces the development of phenomenological philosophy in terms of its fundamental explanatory category! meaning. Besides being an exegetical study of the two theories, the paper criticizes the limits of what is called the "correspondence" theory of truth, and shows how this theory, despite its usefulness, is based on too narrow a view of what can and cannot be called true. This essay attempts to go beyond the epistemological conception of truth as a relation of correspondence (Husserl) toward an ontological conception which locates truth not in a relation between consciousness and its object, but as a category of existence (Heidegger). Truth in this latter sense is no longer limited to propositional knowledge and science, but is found in artistic creation, worship and sacrifice, and philosophical reflection; each an enterprise in which the meaning of Being is revealed. The essay is divided into five chapters. Chapter One raises the question of the meaning of truth via an essential ambiguity in our use of the term. First, in the case of pro- positional truth and scientific knowledge, truth is seen to have the meaning of the correct. On the other hand, the true is the genuine, as in the case of a "true" friend, a real friend. I argue that the first sense (a relation) rests on a correspondence theory of truth. The second, which is not a relational conception, rests on what Heidegger calls truth as unconcealedness of Being (aletheia). Chapter Two takes up one side of the ambiguity by examining Husserl's theory of truth as it emerges from the context of his revision of epistemology in the Logical Investigations. By a careful examination of the interdependence of "meaning intention" and "meaning fulfillment" this chapter presents a phenomenological account of the correspondence theory of truth which avoids the metaphysical dichotomies (e.g. between the mental and the physical) which have plagued traditional correspondence theories. The theory of truth is then seen as the ground for Husserl's conception of philosophy as a rigorous science, and for his eidetic ontology of egological consciousness. In Chapter Three the correspondence theory is placed into question by examining Heidegger's criticisms of Husserl's epistemological starting point, and by setting forth the elements in Heidegger's attempt to think the ontological essence of subjectivity as Dasein, or Being-in-the-worId. By showing that a) the theory of knowledge rests on a useful but incomplete assumption about Being, and that b) the correspondence theory of truth does not explain the possibility of correspondence itself, and that c) human existence itself is the primordial "locus" of truth, Heidegger presents us with an ontological conception of truth as aletheia, or unconcealedness of the meaning of Being, which grounds the correspondence theory in the structures of existence. Thus I argue in Chapter Four that since the fundamental meaning of truth is unconcealedness and not correspondence, the positivist prejudice which holds that truth is the product of scientific inquiry alone is false. To show this, I take up Heidegger*s account of truth in art and attempt to apply this to the truth of language which, as poetry, is a non-cognitive and non-referential way that meaning is revealed. Finally, in Chapter Five, I suggest certain ways in which this new conception of truth is relevant for the task of philosophy. Should philosophy be, as Husserl thought, a rigorous science; or is it a fundamental reflection that hermeneutically interprets the meaning of Being? In which way can philosophy best seek its own unique way to truth?


Includes bibliographical references.


iv, 208 pages




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