Du témoignage ou de l’ininterprétable

Emmanuel Alloa


This article defends the thesis that the reflection which Ricœur conducts on the notion of testimony is not one research topic among others, but forms one of the keys to understanding the Ricœurian project as such. The notion of testimony enables one to get beyond the polarity of (phenomenological) description and (hermeneutical) ascription, in order to return to the question of the real. Through an examination of the quadruple grammar of testimony that Ricœur proposes (with its aspects of “presentification,” “credence,” “assertion,” and “substitutability”) and its context in the dialogue with historiography and theology, the article advances the thesis that with testimony, we broach the limit point of hermeneutics, a “non-interpretable” at the heart of interpretation. This “non-interpretable” acquires a quasi-transcendental status, because it allows interpretation to broach the thing it is dealing with and not another interpretation. Lastly, it will be important to show how Ricœur’s thought on testimony also reflects an ethics: this ethics prohibits treating the testimony as a mere source, referring to a positivity, but as a trace, within an experience, which as such is unrepeatable.


Ricœur, Testimony, Hermeneutics, Historiography, Ethics

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/errs.2015.274

Copyright (c) 2015 Emmanuel Alloa

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

This journal is published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program and is cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

ISSN 2156-7808 (online)