Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 21, 2021

From Witnessing to Testimony

Dorothée Legrand
Pages 41-62

Ecouter parler le langage
Triplicité du témoignage

We explore the idea that a testimony is always constituted by at least three parts—the word of the witness, the listening of the one to whom it is addressed, and language as a symbolic register where speaking and listening are inscribed. Thus, the structure of testimony would not be captured only by the subjective formula “I was there”—a subject designates himself in reference to a past experience—, nor by the intersubjective formula “I am speaking to you”—a subject designates himself and his listener in the synchrony of the word addressing the other. What is also necessary to consider, in order to capture the structure of testimony, is that “there is language”—the testimony transcends diachronically the speaker and the hearer by inscribing them inseparably in the symbolic register that they share, namely language.