Early Science and Medicine 22 (4):333-360 (2017)

Emmanuel Alloa
Université de Fribourg
In contemporary social epistemology, the claim has been made that there is a traditional “neglect of testimonial knowledge,” and that in the history of epistemology, first-hand self-knowledge was invariably prioritised over secondary knowledge. While this paper acknowledges some truth in these statements, it challenges the given explanations: the mentioned neglect of testimonial knowledge is based not so much on a primacy of self-knowledge, but that of self-agency. This article retraces some crucial chapters of this ‘do-it-yourself’ paradigm: it considers the imperative of autopsia in early Greek epistemology, history and medicine, and the early modern refashioning of the privilege of self-generated and self-taught (autodidactic) knowledge. A new picture emerges of how the emphasis on (self-)agency progressively shifted towards a focus on the self as the source of ultimate knowledge.

Keywords testimony  epistemology  history  Archaic Greek epistemology  self-knowledge  autopsy  Renaissance  Descartes  testimonial knowledge  witnessing
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DOI 10.1163/15733823-00224p03
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References found in this work BETA

The Epistemology of Testimony.Peter Lipton - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 29 (1):1-31.
Testimony: Acquiring Knowledge From Others.Jennifer Lackey - 2010 - In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press.
Testimony in Communitarian Epistemology.Martin Kusch - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (2):335-354.
Xenophanesstudien.Hermann Fränkel - 1925 - Hermes 60 (2):174-192.

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The Nature of Testimony.Jennifer Lackey - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):177–197.
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