Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Perceptiveness is a quality of tact.


In general, tact implies sensitivity, a sensitive mindful perceptiveness. The dictionary defines tact as “a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense.” But the significance of tact does not inhere in the simple desire or ability to get on well with others or to establish good social relations. Tact has interpretive, phenomenological, interpersonal and normative properties that appear especially suited to bring into relation, for example, to our pedagogical acting with children.


We speak of tact as an instant sense of knowing what to do, an improvisational skill and grace in dealing with others.¬†Someone who shows tact somehow seems to have the gift or ability to act quickly, surely, confidently, and in an appropriate manner with quite complex or delicate circumstances. The point is that this tactful practice is conditioned by phenomenological reflection on human experiences. And this phenomenological reflection has formed in the person a certain perceptiveness, the ability to “see” things that are happening, to perceive significance of a moment in the moment.