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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 21, 2021

From Witnessing to Testimony

Michele Averchi
Pages 63-85

Knowledge by Hearing
A Husserlian Antireductionist Phenomenology of Testimony

In this paper, I argue that Husserl offers an important, although almost completely neglected so far, contribution to the reductionist/antireductionist debate about testimony. Through a phenomenological analysis, Husserl shows that testimony works through the constitution of an intentional intersubjective bond between the speaker and the hearer. In this paper I focus on the Logical Investigations, a 1914 manuscript now published as text 2 in Husserliana 20.2, and a 1931 manuscript now published as Appendix 12 in Husserliana 15. I argue that, in those texts, Husserl highlights three essential phenomenological features of testimony: a) testimony is personal, meaning that it only takes place among persons, b) testimony is social, meaning that it requires the joint effort of multiple cognitive agents, c) testimony is community-building, meaning that it generates a long-lasting social bond among the parts involved.