The Hermeneutics of Testimony


Author: Paul RICOEUR(1913-2005), Distinguished Modern French philosopher.


The hermeneutics of testimony makes a problem of testimony. Considering the question of the absolute as a proper question, it seeks to join an experience of the absolute to the idea of the absolute. It sets itself to resolve the paradox of conjoining the interiority of primary affirmation and the exteriority of acts and of existences that are said to give testimony of the absolute. Testimony is thus a twofold act, an act of consciousness of itself and an act of historical understanding based on the signs that the absolute gives of itself. The signs of the absolute’s self-disclosure are at the same time signs in which consciousness recognizes itself. The hermeneutics of testimony arises in the confluence of two exegesis — the exegesis of historic testimony of the absolute and the exegesis of the self in the criteriology of the divine. Testimony both gives to interpretation a content to be interpreted and calls for an interpretation. We must choose between philosophy of absolute knowledge and the hermeneutics of testimony.


testimony, hermeneutics, the absolute, reflection, original affirmation

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