Document Type




Format of Original

15 p.

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis

Source Publication

Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1080/00071773.2014.969966


Both Ricoeur and Foucault, apparently independently of each other, dedicated much effort to provide an account of truth that goes far beyond the truth of sentences, propositions, or judgments. While well aware of the speech act theory and pragmatics, they want to go beyond a formalism of rules of speech or arguments and integrate the attitude of the one who speaks in the very notion of truth. They see truth not merely as a property of statements, but as an existential process in such a way that the truth of statements is linked to the historically situated speaker. Truth as a property of statements is related to truth as an event. However, both reject any form of historicism or relativism.

I examine Ricoeur's notion of attestation and Foucault's notion of parrhesia, showing how both notions represent a kind of “poetics of truth”, which combines the existential position of the speaker and the historical circumstances of utterance. I show the extent to which both poetics of truth are political and ethical and how successful each poetics is: Ricoeur believes that he can maintain a claim to universality whereas Foucault abandons such a claim and instead subscribes to a radical singularity of the event of speech in a mode of truth that is, as he says, “polemic”.


Accepted version. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. 46, No. 1 (March 2015): 33-47. DOI. © 2015 Taylor & Francis. Used with permission.

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