In this article we argue that discourse structure constrains the set ofpossible constituents in a discourse that can provide the relevantcontext for structuring information in a target sentence, whileinformation structure critically constrains discourse structureambiguity. For the speaker, the discourse structure provides a set of possible contexts for continuation while information structure assignment is independent of discourse structure. For the hearer, the information structure of a sentence together with discourse structure instructs dynamic semantics how rhematic (...) information should be used to update the meaning representation of the discourse (Polanyi and van den Berg, 1996). (shrink)
After the opening address by Dr. J. W. Cook, chairman of the meeting, who welcomed the participants and outlined the programme of speakers, Professor Michael Polanyi of Manchester University, chairman of the Committee on Science and Freedom, spoke on the background and activities of the Committee and showed how the apartheid issue fitted into the series of 'campaigns' which the Committee has fought on behalf of academic freedom.
This text is the seventh of an eight-lecture series given by Michael Polanyi at the University of Chicago in the spring of 1954. The lecture focuses on the nature of human knowledge of other living beings.
On the 27th of October, 1949, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Manchester organized a symposium "Mind and Machine", as Michael Polanyi noted in his Personal Knowledge (1974, p. 261). This event is known, especially among scholars of Alan Turing, but it is scarcely documented. Wolfe Mays (2000) reported about the debate, which he personally had attended, and paraphrased a mimeographed document that is preserved at the Manchester University archive. He forwarded a copy to Andrew Hodges and (...) B. Jack Copeland, who in then published it on their respective websites. The basis of this interpretation here is the copy preserved in the Regenstein Library of the University of Chicago, Special Collections, Polanyi Collection (abbreviated RPC, box 22, folder 19). The same collection holds the mimeographed statement that Polanyi prepared for this symposium: "Can the mind be represented by a machine?" This text has not been studied by Polanyi scholars. (shrink)
Imagine putting together a jigsaw puzzle that works like the board game in the movie “Jumanji”: When you finish, whatever the puzzle portrays becomes real. The children playing “Jumanji” learn to prepare for the reality that emerges from the next throw of the dice. But how would this work for the puzzle of scientific research? How do you prepare for unlocking the secrets of the atom, or assembling from the bottom-up nanotechnologies with unforeseen properties – especially when completion of such (...) puzzles lies decades after the first scattered pieces are tentatively assembled? In the inaugural issue of this journal, Michael Polanyi argued that because the progress of science is unpredictable, society must only move forward with solving the puzzle until the picture completes itself. Decades earlier, Frederick Soddy argued that once the potential for danger reveals itself, one must reorient the whole of one’s work to avoid it. While both scientists stake out extreme positions, Soddy’s approach – together with the action taken by the like-minded Leo Szilard – provides a foundation for the anticipatory governance of emerging technologies. This paper narrates the intertwining stories of Polanyi, Soddy and Szilard, revealing how anticipation influenced governance in the case of atomic weapons and how Polanyi’s claim in “The Republic of Science” of an unpredictable and hence ungovernable science is faulty on multiple levels. (shrink)
William Booth's 'On the Idea of the Moral Economy' (1994) is a scathing critique of the economic historians labelled as 'moral economists', chief among them Karl Polanyi, whose The Great Transformation is the groundwork for much of the later theorizing on the subject. The most devastating of Booth's criticisms is the allegation that Polanyi's normative prescriptions have anti-democratic, Aristotelian and aristocratic undertones for being guided by a preconceived notion of 'the good'. This article presents an attempt to rescue (...)Polanyi from this charge by reinterpreting his view of the relationship between the economic and the political, while elucidating the practical meaning of a moral economy. (shrink)
This paper interprets Karl Polanyi through dialectical critical realism. The paper maintains that this interpretation offers Polanyi methodological coherence and philosophical support. It further provides dialectical critical realism with an exemplar of explanatory critique. It is argued that the social theory of Polanyi aims at the demystification of market-systems as they are theoretically constructed by both orthodox and heterodox accounts of capitalism. Dialectical critical realism is best capable of situating the theoretical accomplishment of Polanyi’s historical and (...) dialectical critiques of social being. (shrink)
Polanyi insisted that scientific knowledge was intensely personal in nature, though held with universal intent. His insights regarding the personal values of beauty and morality in science are first enunciated. These are then explored for their relevance to engineering. It is shown that the practice of engineering is also governed by aesthetics and ethics. For example, Polanyi’s three spheres of morality in science—that of the individual scientist, the scientific community and the wider society—has parallel entities in engineering. The (...) existence of shared values in engineering is also demonstrated, in aesthetics through an example that shows convergence of practitioner opinion to solutions that represent accepted models of aesthetics; and in ethics through the recognition that many professional engineering institutions hold that the safety of the public supersedes the interests of the client. Such professional consensus can be seen as justification for studying engineering aesthetics and ethics as inter-subjective disciplines. (shrink)
This paper deals with Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought styles and Michael Polanyi’s theory of tacit knowledge. Though both concepts have been very influential for science studies in general, and both have been subject to numerous interpretations, their accounts have, somewhat surprisingly, hardly been comparatively analyzed. Both Fleck and Polanyi relied on the physiology and psychology of the senses in order to show that scientific knowledge follows less the path of logical principles than the path of accepting or (...) rejecting specific conventions, where these may be psychologically or sociologically grounded. It is my aim to show that similarities and differences between Fleck and Polanyi are to be seen in the specific historical and political context in which they worked. Both authors, I shall argue, emphasized the relevance of perception in close connection to their respective understanding of science, freedom, and democracy. (shrink)
Kuhn and Feyerabend have little to say about the thought of Michael Polanyi, and the secondary literature on Polanyi's relation to them is meagre. I argue that Polanyi's view, in Personal knowledge and in other writings, of conceptual frameworks 'segregated' by a 'logical gap' as giving rise to controversies in science foreshadowed Kuhn and Feyerabend's theme of incommensurability. The similarity between the thinkers is, I suggest, no coincidence.
The 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis sponsored both an International Congress of Arts and Sciences aimed at unity of knowledge and an anthropology exhibit of diverse peoples. Jointly these represented a quest for unifying knowledge in a diverse world that was fractured by isolated specializations and segregated peoples. In historical perspective, the Congress's quest for knowledge is overshadowed by Ota Benga who was part of the anthropology exhibit. The 1904 World's Fair can be viewed as a Euro-American ritual, a (...) global pilgrimage, which sought to celebrate the advances and resolve the challenges of modernity and human diversity. Three years later Afropentecostalism dealt with these same issues with different methods and rituals. This ritual system became the most culturally diverse and fastest growing religious movement of the twentieth century. I suggest that the anthropological method of Frank Hamilton Cushing, the postcritical epistemology of Michael Polanyi, and the Afropente-costal ritual movement initiated by William J. Seymour are all attempts to develop a postmodern epistemology that is simultaneously constructive, focused on discerning reality, and broad enough to allow for human consciousness and diverse human communities. I explore this confluence of scientific and participatory epistemology through six theses. (shrink)
Abstract SanthiHejeebu and Deirdre McCloskey's rebuttal to Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation begs several important questions. Yes, commerce can be found throughout human history?but is that the same as saying that people have been equally capitalistic at all times? If not, then how did modern capitalism come into being? Hejeebu and McCloskey portray capitalism as having evolved gradually, indeed quite naturally, rather than being a contingent product of politics. Not inconsistently, Hejeebu and McCloskey radically distinguish (...) between what people ?think? and what they ?do"?that is, between their ideas and their actions. This distinction, too, suggests that human action is ahistorically capitalistic?whatever human agents at different times and places might think. (shrink)
Lakatos is considered to be a Popperian who adapted his Hegelian-Marxist training to critical philosophy. I claim this is too narrow and misses Lakatos' goal of understanding scientific inquiry as heuristic inquiry—something he did not find in Popper, but found in Polanyi. Archival material shows that his ‘new method' struggled to overcome what he saw as the Popperian handicap, by using Polanyi.
Cybernetics,” which he presented as en suite with six articles by several others on the same subject in the same journal during the preceding 18 months. This group of short papers, starting with one by Karl Popper, may be regarded as part of the first wave of response to Alan Turing’s famous paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” in 1950. Polanyi read Turing’s paper in draft and discussed it directly with Turing. The polemic as to whether machines can think and (...) the mind’s likeness and unlikeness to a machine, has of course never ceased since then and, as Artificial Intelligence develops, is not likely to do so for many long decades. In addition to the traditional battle lines in philosophy over the mind and the brain there are other important lines of thought that disfavor logic as the final arbiter of the great philosophical questions—for example, feminist ontology and cultural theory. Polanyi started from within logic, but his line of thought was not built out of the old philosophical topics nor did he address the matter along either the materialist or the phenomenological developments of the twentieth century. He was concerned with the cybernetic view of the human mind and also with the way the followers of Wittgenstein regarded language and philosophy. (shrink)
Half a century after Michael Polanyi conceptualised ‘the tacit component’ in personal knowing, management studies has reinvented ‘tacit knowledge’—albeit in ways that squander the advantages of Polanyi’s insights and ignore his faith in ‘spiritual reality’. While tacit knowing challenged the absurdities of sheer objectivity, expressed in a ‘perfect language’, it fused rational knowing, based on personal experience, with mystical speculation about an un-experienced ‘external reality’. Faith alone saved Polanyi’s model from solipsism. But Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism (...) provides scope to rethink personal tacit knowing with regard to ‘other people’ and the intersubjectively viable construction of ‘experiential reality’. By separating tacit knowing from Polanyi’s metaphysical realism and drawing on Benedict Anderson’s concept of ‘imagined communities’, it is possible to conceptualise ‘imagined institutions’ as the tacit dimension of power that shapes human interaction. Whereas Douglass North claimed institutions could be reduced to rules, imagined institutions are known in ways we cannot tell. (shrink)
Scientific and political developments of the early twentieth century led Michael Polanyi to study the role of the scientist in research and the interaction between the individual scholar and the surrounding conditions in community and society. In his concept of “personal knowledge” he gave the theory and history of science an anthropological turn. In many instances of the history of sciences, research is driven by a commitment to beliefs and values. Society plays the role of authority and communicative backdrop (...) that presupposes individual liberty. As a system of beliefs science is rooted in community and also in history. However, as soon as fellow humans become the objects of research, their appeal transcends the researcher. Consequently, the history of human endeavor reveals a “firmament” of standards and obligations which represent an ontological reality, for which Polanyi invokes Teilhard de Chardin’s notion of noosphere. (shrink)
Abstract Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation has had enormous influence since its publication in 1944. In form, this influence has been salutary: Polanyi targets one of the main weaknesses of modern economics. But in substance, Polanyi's influence has been baneful. Mirroring the methodological blindness he criticizes, Polanyi insists on the all?or?nothing existence/ nonexistence of laissez faire?and on its all?or?nothing goodness/badness.
This essay proposes that Polanyi’s tacit knowing – specifically his conception of tacit knowing as cognitive contact with reality – should be construed as fundamentally a knowing by acquaintance – a relational knowing of reality, rather than merely the underlying subsidiary component of explicit representational knowledge. Thus construed, Polanyi’s theory that tacit knowing is foundational to all human knowing is more radical than is often supposed, for it challenges the priority status of explicit representational knowledge relative to tacit (...) acquaintance knowledge, which has been the dominant paradigm for most of the Western epistemological tradition. (shrink)
Abstract Mark Blyth's rebuttal to our constructive critique of Polanyi ?blithely? takes for granted the accuracy of Polanyi's now?outdated historiography of capitalism?by means of a loose, overly expansive definition of capitalism that question?beggingly equates it with modernity. Blyth emphasizes the need to view markets as ?socially embedded,? with which we agree?but he appears not to take account of the individual self?interest that is thus embedded. Similarly, he asserts a priori the role of ideas in history, in parallel to (...) the economists he condemns (unfairly) for reading ideas out of history a priori. All of this poorly serves the cause of extracting Polanyi's welcome emphasis on social embeddedness and on the empirical from the ideological and methodological certitudes and errors in which The Great Transformation placed them. (shrink)
In the United States, various forms of character education have become popular in both elementary and professional education. They are often criticised, however, for their reliance on Aristotle, who is said to be problematic at several points. In response to these criticisms, I argue that Aristotle?s ancient account of character and its formation remains viable in light of work over the last decade in psychology and the neurosciences. However, some lacunae remain that can at least be partially filled with insights (...) drawn from the work of Michael Polanyi, a scientist-turned-philosopher whose larger philosophical project was launched by a desire to see Western society flourish. Insights from these varied sources can provide the building blocks with which to construct an account of character and its development that preserves Aristotle?s best insights in ways that answer the concerns voiced by the critics. (shrink)
The failure of the attempt by Michael Polanyi to capture the social organization of science by comparing it to the operation of a market bears salutary lessons for modern philosophers of science in their rush to appropriate market models and metaphors. In this case, an initially plausible invisible hand argument ended up as crude propaganda for the uniquely privileged social support of science.
This paper compares Hayek and Polanyi on spontaneous social order. Although Hayek is widely believed to have first both coined the name and explicated the idea of ?spontaneous order?, it is in fact Michael Polanyi who did so. Numerous differences emerge between the two thinkers. The characterisation of spontaneous order in Hayek, for example, involves different types of freedom to those advanced by Polanyi. Whereas Hayek (usually) portrays spontaneous order as a single entity, which is equivalent to (...) free society as a whole ? the free?catallactic society ? Polanyi by contrast is disposed to conceive of spontaneous orders as sub?units or components within free society as a whole. These and other aspects of their thought ? including the distinction between spontaneous and planned social orders ? are reviewed and criticised. (shrink)
In this paper I focus on the central role faith plays in the thought of Polanyi and Voegelin. I begin by indicating how both find the modern conception of scientific knowing seriously wanting. What Polanyi terms "objectivism" and Voegelin calls "scientism" is the modern tendency to reduce knowledge to only that which can be scientifically demonstrated. This errant view of knowledge does not occur in a vacuum, though, and both men draw a connection between this and the political (...) pathologies of the twentieth century. I then show the complementary ways in which these two thinkers believe recovery is possible: an epistemological solution encompassed in Polanyi's personal knowledge and an ontological reorientation that is the core of Voegelin's insistence that we must recover an awareness of human participation in transcendent reality. (shrink)
After Heitler and London published their pioneering work on the application of quantum mechanics to chemistry in 1927, it became an almost unquestioned dogma that chemistry would soon disappear as a discipline of its own rights. Reductionism felt victorious in the hope of analytically describing the chemical bond and the structure of molecules. The old quantum theory has already produced a widely applied model for the structure of atoms and the explanation of the periodic system. This paper will show two (...) examples of the entry of quantum physics into more classical fields of chemistry: inorganic chemistry and physical chemistry. Due to their professional networking, George Hevesy and Michael Polanyi found their ways to Niels Bohr and Fritz London, respectively, to cooperate in solving together some problems of classical chemistry. Their works on rare earth elements and adsorption theory throws light to the application of quantum physics outside the reductionist areas. They support the heuristic and persuasive value of quantum thinking in the 1920–1930s. Looking at Polanyi’s later oeuvre, his experience with adsorption theory could be a starting point of his non-justificationist philosophy. (shrink)
The article argues that Polanyi was a likely source of influence on the theory of science that Kuhn developed in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). The striking similarity between Kuhn’s idea ofincommuensurability and Polanyi’s rendering of scientific controversy in Personal Knowledge is featured here, and is used to expose a tension between Polanyi's notions of scientific controversy and unfolding truth.
This article extends Moleski’s discussion (in “Polanyi vs. Kuhn: Worlds Apart”) of the worldviews of Kuhn and Polanyi in two ways: by considering an evolutionary view of science as proposed by Kuhn, and byevaluating Kuhn’s notion of “paradigm change” compared to Polanyi’s work on scientific practice.
My personal relation with Polanyi, discussions with him in Oxford, contribution to the International Academy of the Philosophy of Science, the relevance of his innovative thought for Christian worship and theology, Magda and Michael in Oxford, the role of his literary executor.
Post-modernism is receiving much attention, but it is often seen as merely an extrapolation of modernism. Michael Polanyi’s post-critical epistemology offers a useful way of understanding post-modernism. The modern objectivism of critical thought leads to a dead-end dehumanization. Polanyi offers a recovery of the human dimension by demonstrating the ways in which all knowing, especially scientific discovery, requires human participation. An analogy is drawn with post-modern art and architecture, which similarly attempt to recover the human form and traditional (...) or classical ornamentation in a way which goes beyond the sterile abstractness of modernism. (shrink)
Paul Tillich and Michael Polanyi had their only face-to-face meeting in Berkeley, in February, 1963. The author reports the circumstances of this conversation, which he arranged and in which he participated, and, on the basis of his participation, offers refelections on the postcritical and fiduciary dimensions in the work of Polanyi and Tillich as a means of identifying similarities and differences in the thought of each.
Ethical particularists allege that there are, on account of epistemological limitations, no such things as general moral principles. This paper defends the existence of general moral principles by adapting and appropriating Polanyi’s epistemology of science to this problem in moral philosophy.
This paper is a critique of the theory of meaning in art and religion that Michael Polanyi developed in his last work entitled Meaning. After giving a brief summary of Polanyi’s theory of art, I raise two serious difficulties, not with the theory itself, but with the claims Polanyi makes about the relation of meaning in art to science and religion. Regarding the first difficulty, I argue that Polanyi betrays an earlier insight when in Meaning he (...) attempts to dissociate meaning in art from meaning in science; instead I argue that both science and art are aesthetic enterprises. Regarding the second, I argue that Polanyi’s account of religion is an aesthetic reduction, that meaning in religion, at least in the Western tradition, is not so much an aesthetic as it is an existential matter. (shrink)
This essay is a study of Polanyi’s career as scientist and philosopher from the point of view of the history of science, starting with the first step in his academic career helped by an intervention of Albert Einstein. Polanyi’s ideas are better understood if placed against the background of then-fashionable philosophical movements, including logical positivism, and his disagreement with Bukharin in 1935. The essay studies the sources and ambitions of Polanyi’s notion of the tacit dimension, his attitude (...) to evolution and “emergence,” and his contribution to the search for the origins of Einstein’s Relativity Theory. His success in the last of these is shown to be an exemplar of Polanyi’s own philosophy. (shrink)
In this response to Jeff Pflug’s review of my dissertation Michael Polanyi’s Integrative Philosophy, I note that Pflug focused on my discussion of possible extension of Polanyi’s epistemology; he has also taken my statements on scientific truth out of context. In addition, he ignored the four major elements of the dissertation, thereby not giving the reader a “map” to the meaning and the rationale of the work – an intellectual biography of Polanyi.
This essay discusses historical data that help establish the time at which the Christian theologian and moral philosopher H. Richard Niebuhr became acquainted with Michael Polanyi’s thought. It also briefly examines the ways in which Polanyi’s philosophical ideas are used in the late publications of Niebuhr.
In this essay, I argue that Polanyi developed a realism which ranges over the sciences and the humanities as well as over values. I argue that his comprehensive realism had best be understood as relative to veracious inquirers participating in communal traditions of inquiry and that this leads to a theological realism according to which the divine realities are interpreted contextually, i.e., in terms of a particular religious form of life, rather than in terms of the grand metaphysics of (...) classical theism. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to display a congruence between several important features of Augustine’s theory of knowledge, including our knowledge of the world (sapientia) and our knowledge of the standards guiding our thought (sapientia), and Michael Polanyi’s theory of personal knowledge. Its purpose is to commendan interpretation of Polanyi’s thought which situates his major insights within an Augustinian intellectual tradition and which thereby offers fruitful possibilities for theological reflection, particularly on the reality of God.
This review discusses Weightman's interpretation of Torrance's appropriation of Polanyi's theory of science; Weightman shows how Torrance develops a contemporary “natural”theology, moving beyond Barthian roots, but he argues Torrance misconstrues Polanyi's understanding of “religion” and God. I support Weightman's account, acknowledging much of his argument regarding the nature of religion, but I question whether his constructivist view of God can support the role it must play in Polanyi's thought.
This essay attempts to clarify certain aspects of Polanyi’s version of comprehensive realism: the irreducible role of responsible personal commitment as transcending human subjectivity in any meaningful reference to transcendent reality, and thus for any coherent realism; realism as a fundamental presupposition of intellectual responsibility in the humanities and in the sciences; a conception of intrinsic (vs. extrinsic, anthropocentrically projected) meaning characterizing real things, in greater and lesser degrees; a conception of embodied tacit knowing as a relational, acquaintance knowing (...) that achieves contact with reality-in-itself, transcending our grasp – hence, transcending our representational or propositional knowing (which is always reality-as-constituted or construed-by-us). (shrink)
Among other important things, William T. Scott and Martin X. Moleski’s biography of Michael Polanyi raises questions concerning the scientist-Philosopher’s religious convictions. Despite his profound respect for Christianity, he suffered from an inability to believe.
Using the ideas of Clifford Geertz, Adolf Portmann, Charles Taylor, and others, I seek to develop and expand Polanyi’s account of language and its role in our human way of being bodily mindful in the world. The expansion of Polanyi’s ideas on language in the evolutionary rise of Homo sapiens and in the moral and mental development of the child does two things that I believe are important: (1) obviates the need to appeal to an incorporeal thinking substance (...) - i.e., dualism - to ground the reality of human transcendence, and (2) highlights the place of natural language in the irreducibility of human mentality. (shrink)
Michael Polanyi articulates two arguments against the view that moral judgment has no proper place in the conduct of political science: Non-judgmental political science cannot understand what it studies; and non-judgmental political science cannot understand the political scientist himself. Evaluation of these arguments not only clarifies important dimensions of Polanyi’s conceptions of understanding and tacit inference, it prompts a reconsideration of the nature of both moral deliberation and moral truth. The encounter with Polanyi demonstrates that non-judgmental political (...) science does indeed fall short of its stated objective. (shrink)
This essay describes the Hungarian historical background out of which Michael Polanyi’s lifelong commitment to a liberal, democratic form of government grew. Hungary’s liberal thinkers blossomed in the nineteenth centruy, but their orientation was more political and practical than philosophical. Enlightenment ideas did not penetrate deeply into Hungarian society, which in recent centuries was hampered by its Eastern European and feudal ties. Thus Polanyi felt he had to move to more liberal countries.
. Michael Polanyi’s distinction between the indicative meaning of scientific statements and the symbolic and metaphorical meaning of art and religion, presented in Meaning, is based on an abstraction from concrete experience and betrays an inadequate understanding of religious discourse, particularly the discourse of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. In fact, Polanyi’s vision in Personal Knowledge, which analyses the priority of personal action to all achievements of explication, seems either to be denied or forgotton by the positions taken in Meaning. (...) Hence, the argument here is that Meaning is a deviation from Personal Knowledge and a step away from the resources necessary to grasp adequately the logic of religious discourse. (shrink)
Although Polanyi regards technological knowledge as inferior to scientific knowledge, he uses the idea of machine-like operational principles as an analogy for both his epistemology and his ontology. Since his epistemology is based on personal knowledge, this suggest the need for a personal ontology. Polanyi tries to avoid such a conclusion by invoking impersonal evolutionary factors.
This paper conceives the distinction between human and animal identity in terms (drawn from theological anthropology) of distinctively human “habitation of a world.’’ It develops models for this using Polanyi’s account of the figure-ground polarity of acts of knowing in general. It identifies three distinct forms taken by this polarity, each offering its own model for human identity in its engagement with the world. Two of these models prove fatally one-sided. The third discloses the character of human identity in (...) its relatedness and openness, its continuity and discontinuity with animal identity. This characterisation of human identity resonates with ideas found in Christian theological anthropology. (shrink)
This paper looks at Wittgenstein’s criticism of metaphysical philosophy and its possible reconstitution through Polanyi’s epistemology of tacit knowing. The two approaches are contrasted in the end in response to the question “What is the meaning of life?”.
This paper examines the work of Michael Oakeshott in relation to that of Polanyi. While there are important similarities that Oakeshott himself recognized, their fundamentally different conceptions of reality—Polanyi ‘s realism and Oakeshott’s idealism—ultimately serve to highlight important distinctions between these two thinkers.
Michael Polanyi’s work has often been conflated with that of Thomas Kuhn. This article shows that although Polanyi and Kuhn both conceded the similarities in some aspects of their accounts of science, both were critical of the other’s position. The key to a correct understanding of the tensions between the authors and their views is to recognize the clash of worldviews within which their philosophies of science were constructed.
This essay reviews historical records that set forth the discussions and interaction of Michael Polanyi and Karl Mannheim/rom 1944 until Mannheim’s death early in 1947. The letters describe Polanyi’s effort to assemble a book to be published in a series edited by Manneheim. Theyalso reveal the different perspectives these thinkers took about freedom and the historical context of ideas. Records of J.H. Oldham’s discussion group “the Moot” suggest that these and other differences in philosophy were debated in meetings (...) of “the Moot” attended by Polanyi and Mannheim in 1944. (shrink)
Using a critical framework developed by W. H. Walsh, this essay assesses Polanyi's theory of historical passage. It then compares Polanyi's views about history with those of Paul Tillich. The comparison reveals similar approaches to understanding ontology and epistemology.
This review essay discusses Stephania Jha’s account of Polanyi’s thought in her dissertation, Michael Polanyi’s Integrative Philosophy (Harvard University, Gutman Education Library: Thesis J47, 1995); I criticize her understanding and use of Polanyi’s notion of “from-at” integrations.
This brief sketch affirms my agreement with Martin Moleski’s essay (“Polanyi vs. Kuhn: Worldviews Apart”) on the relationship of Polanyi to Kuhn. In this piece, I raise issues that revolve around the relationship of Polanyi to Kuhn in the field of the social sciences, and more especially in the field of politics.
. Two aspects of the problem of interpreting Michael Polanyi’s outlook on religion are discussed. First, various ways of relating to reality beyond the objective perception of factuality must be considered, including the shift from I-It to I-Thou relations, and the self-giving mode of surrender to a symbolized reality. Second, the active use of the imagination in perception involves a commitment that the image is of something real, transcending the person. I believe that Polanyi understands both religious rituals (...) and works of art to point to realities that can be met again in new ways. After this discussion reasons for Polanyi’s reticence to speak about his own religion are suggested and, finally, some known facts about his personal religion are given. (shrink)
The question of how Michael Polanyi understood religious realities has often been debated. I suggest, in this response to a review of my book on Polanyi and theologian Thomas Torrance, that Polanyi's treatment of mathematical realities can throw light on his understanding of religious realities (like “God”) especially since he clearly links or groups these in a number of places. In addition, I point out that Torrance develops and moves beyond the Barthian theological tradition in his adoptin (...) of a Polanyian natural theology. (shrink)
These reflections on Andrew Grosso’s recent book Personal Being highlight his philosophical construction of a concept of personhood based on themes from the writings Of Michael Polanyi and his use of this conception to express creatively elements of the traditional Christian doctrines on the trinity. Additional clarifications are sought regarding his formulations on the divine personhood of Jesus, the adequacy of his formulations on the intra-trinitarian relations, and the insightfulness of the absolute personhood of the divine. This study is (...) a helpful model for extending Polanyian insights into the realm of dogmatic theology. (shrink)
The influence of Michael Polanyi on William H. Poteat’s teaching from 1967 to 1976 was apparent but not paramount. Cultural conceptual analysis as taught and practiced by Poteat during this period included Polanyian texts, themes, and concepts, but drew extensively from other major conceptual innovators who provided radical alternatives to key cultural conceptual commitments of modernity. This was the period roughly between the completion of Intellect and Hope and the writing of Polanyian Meditations.
My intent is to paint in rather broad strokes Bill Poteat’s intellectual agenda, as I came to understand it, and how Michael Polanyi fit into that agenda for Poteat alongside other major intellectual mentors. Bill’s agenda was to expose critically and, so far as possible, to counter the fateful consequences of what he called the “prepossessions of the European Enlightenment” regarding human knowing, human doing, and human being. Although his work involved conceptual analysis, the nature of this conceptual-archaeology was (...) far more profound than what usually goes by the name “conceptual analysis” or “cultural conceptual analysis.” In effect it sought first to bring to light how the conceptual resources by which modern intellectuals reflectively consider anything, fatefully result in a state of self-abstractedness – indeed, a kind of culturally constituted insanity – that loses touch with the actual, concrete object of one’s concern, with one’s actual concrete self, and with the wellsprings of one’s intellectual passion and creativity. Second, Bill sought to cure this cultural insanity, person by person, by ushering his students and readers into re-placement of themselves into themselves, in possession of themselves, within the concrete context of their embodied personhood. Poteat called attention to the way that our powers of reflection quite systematically forget their contextual rootedness in this (multi-leveled) cultural matrix and, beneath that, in our lived bodies – ultimately in our personhood. Polanyi served to assist Poteat (and his students) in this endeavor, I believe, as much as, or more than, did any other of Poteat’s several intellectual mentors. (shrink)
This article reviews Michael Polanyi’s Post-Critical Epistemology by Andy F. Sanders but goes on to articulate certain crucial aspects of Polanyi’s post-critical understanding of truth that seem to be overlooked in Sanders’ account and which challenge conventional analyses of truth.
This article explores Polanyi’s views on religion. Reviewing the debate on his understanding of religion, which originated in Richard Gelwick and Harry Prosch’s conflicting readings of Polanyi on the theme, the article proposes that there are ambiguities within his writings on the theme which cannot be resolved. There is a weakness in Polanyi’s work on religion which reflcets his limited experience of religious practices and theological traditions. Nevertheless, his insight that religious knowledge is rooted in the practices (...) of religious worship is one from which theology has much to learn. (shrink)
In the present essay, I explore some ways in which Polanyi’s concepts can be applied to enrich our understanding of epistemological development and the educational practices that seem to facilitate orsuppress it. Among the concepts discussed are Polanyi’s notion of uncertainty, combined with confidence as driving intellectual activity; the role of conviviality in the collaborative construction of knowledge,· the act of discovery as beginning with a problem that obsesses the thinker and proceeding through the integration of (often tacit) (...) fragments into a coherent whole; the notion of personal knowledge and commitment as transcending the disjunction between subjective and objective; apprenticeship as a personal relationship between a learner and a more sophisticated master, and most important, the assertion that beliefis prior to doubt. Thus, in terms ofthe concepts my colleagues and I have developed, “connected knowing” (a personal approach) is not simply equal to “separate knowing” (a detached, impersonal mode) as a procedure for arriving at knowledge, but is prior to it, “making meaning” being a necessary prerequisite to testing the validity ofa position. Drawing on interview data and memoirs of academic experiences, I argue that because these priorities are often reversed in educational practice, students learn to delete their personal responses from their essays in order to meet what they perceive as the utterly objective standards of the academy. When educators “endorse” uncertainty, students are encouraged to engage in the collaborative making of meaning and the pursuit of problems of personal importance. (shrink)
This essay gives a brief overview of Transhumanism and explores a few of its central ideas in the light of Polanyi’s views about embodiment, Marxism, and reality’s hierarchal order, concluding that although Polanyi would likely appreciate the possibilities of cyborgic augmentation that feature in the Transhumanist route to the posthuman, he would utterly repudiate its metaphysics of disembodied intelligence and its underlying technological determinism.
The following letters were written by the distinguished British chemist Professor Brian G. Gowenlock in response to Tibor Frank’s article on “Networking, Cohorting, Bonding: Michael Polanyi in Exile,” Tradition and Discovery 23:2 (2001-2002): 5-19. The two letters contribute to the history of the Manchester years of Michael Polanyi with interesting details concerning several of his colleagues and contemporaries. These informative comments by a former student of Michael Polanyi will improve our knowledge of the last years of (...) class='Hi'>Polanyi as a physical chemist. (shrink)
William T. Scott’s and Martin X Moleski’s biography, Michael Polanyi, Scientist and Philosopher helps to show how Polanyi throughout his life developed toward his theory of knowledge that is a heuristic philosophy and leads to a heuristic philosophy of religion.
Michael Polanyi’s engagement of Paul Tillich on the Christian faith and the relation of science and religion during the 1963 Earl Lectures at Pacific School of Religion, and his follow up with a public lecture and correspondence with Tillich, show a major complentarity in their epistemologies and common ground for pursuit of scientific knowledge and religious meaning.
Michael Polanyi found in the thought of Paul Tillich an ally for Polanyi’s program of showing the fiduciary component in all knowing including science. Polanyi saw, however, a danger in Tillich’s distinguishing science as preliminary concern and religion as ultimate concern. In a significant dialogue in 1963, Polanyi and Tillich met and addressed issues, agreeing that science and religion share a common epistemological structure.
These brief reflections extend the discussion of Louis H. Swartz review essay “Reflections on Shils, Sacred and Civil Ties, and Universities.” I note the influence Shils and Polanyi had upon one another and comment on issues related to Shils’s thought which Swartz raises in connection with material in three recent, posthumously published volumes of Shils’s writings.
Illuminating letters by Barbara Striker and Bela Hidegkuti respond to Walter Gulick’s review of David Cesarani’s book, Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind in Tradition and Discovery 29:2 (2002-2003), 50-55. The letters and accompanying commentary shed light on the details of Eva Striker Zeisel’s USSR imprisonment and release, her relationship to Arthur Koestler, the lives of George and Barbara Striker (Polanyi’s nephew and wife), and the circumstances and sources of Cesarani’s biography.
This article is intended to advance a comprehensive understanding of knowing and meaning that is sensitive to biological and psychological evidence as well as to ethical and religious concerns. It proceeds by integrating Michael Polanyi’s theories of the evolutionary emergence of centered beings, tacit knowing, and the from-[via]-to structure of consciousness with a revised version of Susanne Langer’s theory of symbolization. The revision stresses the importance of signals in all human and other animal attunement to reality and argues for (...) dividing Langer’s notion of presentational symbolism into a component shared by the more developed animals and one unique to humans. It details autonomic, receptor, learned tacit, and conceptual contributions to personal meaning. (shrink)