Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

The Provocative Turn

Answerability: articulate the kind of ethical predicaments that are suggested in the study and what are the active normative responses (advice, policies, tactful practices, etc.).


When a person is addressed by an other then he or she can turn away or do nothing –but this turning or failure to act can only be understood in the context of the initial appeal. An appeal of the other is more than a phenomenon, more than an intentional relation; it does more than “show itself.” Therefore, it presents a situation with ethical significance.


The term “provoke” derives from pro-vocare, to call forward, to challenge; to incite, to stir up, to arouse to a feeling, to quicken, to excite. A strong vocative text tends to provoke actions. It is action-sensitive, and opens up the realm of the ethical.