There is only “Philosophy”: The case of testimony

  • Elisa Freschi Austrian Academy of Sciences and University of Vienna
Keywords: intercultural philosophy, philosophy of language, epistemology, epistemology of testimony, Mīmāṃsā, Kumārila, Prabhākara, Nyāya, Buddhist epistemology, Vaiśeṣika


The present introduction summarises the debate on the epistemological value of testimony, with a special focus on the reductionism vs. antireductionism polemics, and situates Indian philosophers within it. One thus sees that some Indian philosophical schools (especially Vaiśeṣika and Buddhist epistemology) attempted to reduce testimony to another, more fundamental, instrument of knowledge, typically to inference, whereas others (especially Mīmāṃṣā and Nyāya) emphasised the independent nature of testimony. The study then moves to the problem of the criteria for a reliable speaker and discusses border-line cases, such as that of speaking instruments (computers, clocks and the like). Finally, it looks at some promising and open-ended topics evoked by the Indian-European dialogue on testimony.


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Author Biography

Elisa Freschi, Austrian Academy of Sciences and University of Vienna
Elisa Freschi (University of Vienna and Austrian Academy of Sciences) studied South Asian studies and Philosophy. She works on Indian Philosophy (especially Mīmāṃsā and Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta) and on comparative philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, deontic logic and on the re-use of texts. She is a convinced upholder of reading Sanskrit philosophical texts within their history and understanding them through a philosophical approach. Among her publications: Duty, language and exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā (2012), Rule-extension strategies: Ritual, exegetical and linguistic considerations on the tantra- and prasaṅga-principles (2013), The reuse of texts in Indian philosophy (2015, ed.) and Adaptive Reuse: Aspects of Creativity in South Asian Cultural History (2017, edited with Philipp A. Maas).


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There in only ‘Philosophy:’ The case of Testimony