Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 21, 2021

From Witnessing to Testimony

Rodolphe Olcèse
Pages 129-151

Excès du témoignage, déhiscence du témoin. Søren Kierkegaard, Emmanuel Lévinas, Jean-Louis Chrétien

This text articulates the concept of subjective truth developed by Søren Kierkegaard in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, in connection to a conception of testimony which both exceeds and reveals the possibilities of thinking and acting of the witness. This imbalance between the testimony and the witness finds an important extension in the distinction between the Saying and the Said made by Emmanuel Lévinas in Otherwise than Being, or Beyond Essence. This distinction opens up an understanding of thought as affectivity and allows witnessing to be viewed in the light of responsibility to the other. By being part of this philosophical heritage, Jean-Louis Chrétien shows how the testimony of the infinite is also phenomenalized in the experience of a chant that discovers its own modalities in this excess of beauty on the voice that tries to say it.