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An everyday account of witnessing.

  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.

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  • Date:

    30 November 2010

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  • Library of Congress:

    HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    302 Social interaction


Turner, P. (2010). An everyday account of witnessing. AI & society. 27, 5-12. doi:10.1007/s00146-011-0323-9. ISSN 0951-5666



Presence; Martin Heidegger; witnessing; availability; representation;

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