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An everyday account of witnessing

Turner, Phil


Phil Turner


This paper presents a discussion of an everyday ontology of witnessing drawing on the writings of Martin Heidegger, cognitive science and presence research. We begin by defining witnessing: to witness we must be present; and that which is witnessed must be available. Witnessing is distinguished from perceiving in that it implies and requires a record (a representation) of what has been perceived. Presence and availability are (relatively) uncontroversial but finding a place for representation, which is a classically dualistic concept, in an ontological account potentially presents difficulties. We address this problem by recognising that being available, ready-to-hand and proximal can also serve to represent the very thing being witnessed.


Turner, P. (2011). An everyday account of witnessing. AI & society, 27, 5-12.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011
Deposit Date May 29, 2012
Print ISSN 0951-5666
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Pages 5-12
Keywords Presence; Martin Heidegger; witnessing; availability; representation;
Public URL
Publisher URL