The Hegelian concept, with its all-encompassing power, epitomizes the kind of totality-oriented thinking that Levinas, a philosopher of genuine alterity, sharply criticizes. This paper investigates this antagonism by focusing on a notion that is pivotal for both authors, the notion of subjectivity. Hegel makes transcendence into an immanent dimension of the subject whereas Levinas conceives transcendence as the subject’s relation with radical exteriority. The decisive question is whether Levinas falls back into the failures of so-called ‘philosophies of reflection’ or whether the Hegelian dialectic of being and nothing relies on an un-condition for which it does not and indeed cannot account. The paper culminates in the thesis that Hegel and Levinas reverse the order of priority of the Good and the True. While Hegel conceives of the absolute as system of truth, for Levinas the ethical ‘failure’ of totalization constitutes a necessary condition for rationality.