2020 – 2022: "I was there."

Laying the Foundations for a Comprehensive Phenomenology of Testimony

Abstract

The underlying premise of our project is that only a phenomenology which is open to historical hermeneutics and which develops its analyses in the horizon of a philosophical anthropology of the subject is able to capture adequately, i.e. comprehensively and thoroughly, the fundamental structures of the experience of testimony and to account for the new dimension of subjectivity that this experience reveals (a dimension whose manifestations range from self-institution to absolute self-dispossession). It is precisely the specific nature of the phenomenon and experience of testimony which calls for such an approach, which combines phenomenological, hermeneutical and philosophic-anthropological directions of research. Thus, a phenomenological approach describing the structures and sequences which are constitutive for the experience of testimony according to the guiding concepts of intersubjectivity and embodiment would be incomplete if it would not take into account both the historical inscription of this experience and its potential to make history. Finally, the experience of testimony, through its ascending and regressive modalizations which go from body, speech to writing and back, reveals a new articulation of the “I”: the subject capable of giving testimony, of attesting through his/her own being, for the others, the truth of a past event, a subject whose condition is determined by the interplay between memory and history, by an existential fragility and by a fallible knowledge. Therefore, in order to fulfill the goal of our project, that is to lay the foundations for a comprehensive phenomenological theory of testimony, we will develop a threefold approach, combining the eidetic description, the interpretation and the philosophical reflection.