Volume 23, Issue 1, January 2008
Situated practices of testimony. A rhetorical approach
Contrary to most current epistemologists who concentrate on core cases of rather ‘spontaneous’ (deliberately de-contextualized) trust and belief in the face of assertions, Classical rhetoricians addressed the study of ‘testimony’ as an (at least) two-acts phenomenon: that of the ‘disclosure’ of information and that of the ‘appeal’ to its authority in subsequent discursive practices. Moreover, they primarily focused on this second phase as they assumed that it was such argumentative setting that finally gave ‘testimonial’ relevance to the first act. According to this ‘rhetorical’ model, then, it is the dynamics (by means of an in medias res approach) and pragmatics (by means of a deliberate attention to specifically ‘situated’ practices) of such complex process that is the core issue regarding ‘testimony’.