Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Ronald E. Brown


I devise a theoretical model that provides an interpretive framework to define and describe the concept of provocation as well as to analyze and explain the theoretical provocations in Plato, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Friedrich Nietzsche's works. I assess their works as well as a wide-ranging body of scholarship both on the concept and the theorists, to show that--despite Plato, Rousseau and Nietzsche's many peculiarities both in terms of their lives and works--the three separate theoretical projects similarly use the conceptual language of provocation as an integral part of an overall rhetorical strategy to articulate their philosophical systems as ones of provocation themselves in order to theorize a new--and superior--conception of personhood and politics. In addition, I argue that interpreting political provocation through such a methodological framework has relevant applicability extending beyond theory to real-life provocateurs and events whose developments and outcomes are politically consequential, particularly with respect to helping equip citizens with their democratic responsibilities.