n French Studies in Southern Africa - À la recherche de la vérité perdue. Marcel Proust et la métaéthique

Volume 2018 Number 48
  • ISSN : 0259-0247


This article explores the concept of truth and the potential capacity to possess and communicate truth in full. The philosophical approach adopted in the article shows the complexity of this matter and reveals different ways of understanding communication of truth through literature. The views of Schleiermacher, Heidegger, Jaspers, Gadamer and Ricoeur on how we may have some access to the truth are briefly considered. The hermeneutic approach provides an interesting perspective on the exploration of the truth contained in a text. Through the analysis of the narrative work of Marcel Proust, the truth appears to be without any objective foundation because all reality is filtered by the mind of the author who gives it a meaning according to personal emotions and personal representation. In this subjective apprehension of reality and in this psychological relativism, the truth becomes personal “certainty” without solid objectivity. However, the purpose of fictional literature created by imagination differs from that pursued in philosophy. In analytic philosophy, the question of truth linked to human relationships analyses ethical problems through the opposing perspectives of cognitivists and non-cognitivists. The article discusses some elements of non-cognitivism in literature produced by Kundera and Proust, although these authors were not theoretically committed to a particular school of thought. Indeed, elements of cognitivism can also be found in literature produced by these same authors. The end of the article postulates that, considering the risks inherent in the scepticism ethic, fundamental to a systematic way of thinking, it is desirable for committed researchers to devote their work to the truth.

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