What is the relationship between religious belief and the study of nature, between theology and science? This is the fundamental preoccupation of the three different studies brought together in Einstein, Polanyi, and the Laws of Nature.
By exploring the highly original yet little known thought of Michael Polanyi, Jaeger highlights the inherent personal investment in any quest for knowledge, including the scientific enterprise, thus raising the question of the objectivity of human knowledge. Considered to be the greatest mind of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein saw scientific research as the fruit of the “cosmic religion.” His response to the question of the relationship between faith and science also receives the close analysis it deserves. Finally, Jaeger is interested in science’s propensity to use the concept of laws of nature, a concept also found in the Bible. By examining the similarities and differences, she paves the way for interdisciplinary dialogue.
The synthesis of these three complimentary studies brings out the complicity between belief and knowledge, thus establishing a bridge between two noble human activities: faith and scientific research. It will be of interest to all serious followers of the ongoing science and religion dialogue.
Knowing and Being
Michael Polanyi University of Chicago Press, 1973 Library of Congress BD161.P719 1969b | Dewey Decimal 121.08
Because of the difficulty posed by the contrast between the search for truth and truth itself, Michael Polanyi believes that we must alter the foundation of epistemology to include as essential to the very nature of mind, the kind of groping that constitutes the recognition of a problem.
This collection of essays, assembled by Marjorie Grene, exemplifies the development of Polanyi's theory of knowledge which was first presented in Science, Faith, and Society and later systematized in Personal Knowledge.
Polanyi believes that the dilemma of the modern mind arises from the peculiar relation between the positivist claim for total objectivity in scientific knowledge and the unprecedented moral dynamism characterizing the social and political aspirations of the last century. The first part of Knowing and Being deals with this theme. Part two develops Polanyi's idea that centralization is incompatible with the life of science as well as his views on the role of tradition and authority in science. The essays on tacit knowing in Part Three proceed directly from his preoccupation with the nature of scientific discovery and reveal a pervasive substructure of all intelligent behavior. Polanyi believes that all knowing involves movement from internal clues to external evidence. Therefore, to explain the process of knowing, we must develop a theory of the nature of living things in general, including an account of that aspect of living things we call "mind." Part Four elaborates upon this theme.
Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch University of Chicago Press, 1977 Library of Congress B105.M4P64 | Dewey Decimal 111.83
Published very shortly before his death in February 1976, Meaning is the culmination of Michael Polanyi's philosophic endeavors. With the assistance of Harry Prosch, Polanyi goes beyond his earlier critique of scientific "objectivity" to investigate meaning as founded upon the imaginative and creative faculties.
Establishing that science is an inherently normative form of knowledge and that society gives meaning to science instead of being given the "truth" by science, Polanyi contends here that the foundation of meaning is the creative imagination. Largely through metaphorical expression in poetry, art, myth, and religion, the imagination is used to synthesize the otherwise chaotic and disparate elements of life. To Polanyi these integrations stand with those of science as equally valid modes of knowledge. He hopes this view of the foundation of meaning will restore validity to the traditional ideas that were undercut by modern science. Polanyi also outlines the general conditions of a free society that encourage varied approaches to truth, and includes an illuminating discussion of how to restore, to modern minds, the possibility for the acceptance of religion.
In Michael Polanyi and His Generation, Mary Jo Nye investigates the role that Michael Polanyi and several of his contemporaries played in the emergence of the social turn in the philosophy of science. This turn involved seeing science as a socially based enterprise that does not rely on empiricism and reason alone but on social communities, behavioral norms, and personal commitments. Nye argues that the roots of the social turn are to be found in the scientific culture and political events of Europe in the 1930s, when scientific intellectuals struggled to defend the universal status of scientific knowledge and to justify public support for science in an era of economic catastrophe, Stalinism and Fascism, and increased demands for applications of science to industry and social welfare.
At the center of this struggle was Polanyi, who Nye contends was one of the first advocates of this new conception of science. Nye reconstructs Polanyi’s scientific and political milieus in Budapest, Berlin, and Manchester from the 1910s to the 1950s and explains how he and other natural scientists and social scientists of his generation—including J. D. Bernal, Ludwik Fleck, Karl Mannheim, and Robert K. Merton—and the next, such as Thomas Kuhn, forged a politically charged philosophy of science, one that newly emphasized the social construction of science.
The polymath Michael Polanyi first made his mark as a physical chemist, but his interests gradually shifted to economics, politics, and philosophy, in which field he would ultimately propose a revolutionary theory of knowledge that grew out of his firsthand experience with both the scientific method and political totalitarianism. In this sixth entry in ISI Books’ Library of Modern Thinkers’ series, Mark T. Mitchell reveals how Polanyi came to recognize that the roots of the modern political and spiritual crisis lay in an errant conception of knowledge that served to foreclose any possibility of making meaningful statements about truth, goodness, or beauty. Polanyi’s theory of knowledge as ineluctably personal but also grounded in reality is not merely of historical interest, writes Mitchell, for it proposes an attractive alternative for anyone who would reject both the hubris of modern rationalism and the ultimately nihilistic implications of academic postmodernism.
The publication of Personal Knowledge in 1958 shook the science world, as Michael Polanyi took aim at the long-standing ideals of rigid empiricism and rule-bound logic. Today, Personal Knowledge remains one of the most significant philosophy of science books of the twentieth century, bringing the crucial concepts of “tacit knowledge” and “personal knowledge” to the forefront of inquiry.
In this remarkable treatise, Polanyi attests that our personal experiences and ways of sharing knowledge have a profound effect on scientific discovery. He argues against the idea of the wholly dispassionate researcher, pointing out that even in the strictest of sciences, knowing is still an art, and that personal commitment and passion are logically necessary parts of research. In our technological age where fact is split from value and science from humanity, Polanyi’s work continues to advocate for the innate curiosity and scientific leaps of faith that drive our most dazzling ingenuity.
For this expanded edition, Polyani scholar Mary Jo Nye set the philosopher-scientist’s work into contemporary context, offering fresh insights and providing a helpful guide to critical terms in the work. Used in fields as diverse as religious studies, chemistry, economics, and anthropology, Polanyi’s view of knowledge creation is just as relevant to intellectual endeavors today as when it first made waves more than fifty years ago.
In this work the distinguished physical chemist and philosopher, Michael Polanyi, demonstrates that the scientist's personal participation in his knowledge, in both its discovery and its validation, is an indispensable part of science itself. Even in the exact sciences, "knowing" is an art, of which the skill of the knower, guided by his personal commitment and his passionate sense of increasing contact with reality, is a logically necessary part. In the biological and social sciences this becomes even more evident.
The tendency to make knowledge impersonal in our culture has split fact from value, science from humanity. Polanyi wishes to substitute for the objective, impersonal ideal of scientific detachment an alternative ideal which gives attention to the personal involvement of the knower in all acts of understanding. His book should help to restore science to its rightful place in an integrated culture, as part of the whole person's continuing endeavor to make sense of the totality of his experience. In honor of this work and his The Study of Man Polanyi was presented with the Lecomte de Noüy Award for 1959.
The chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi (1891–1976) was one of the first twentieth-century scientists to propose a program to resolve the internal conflict of the modern Enlightenment: scientific detachment and moral nihilism with humanist values. Stefania Jha’s intellectual biography places Polanyi in the context of his time and culture, analyzes his key philosophical ideas, and explicates the application—and at times misappropriation—of his work.
Polanyi’s method was not laid out in his published works, and his vocabulary tends to make his writings difficult to understand. By exposing the structure of his theory of tacit knowing, and by tracing the growth of his thinking, Jha shows how the various elements of his thought are integrated. Through examination of his philosophical roots in Kant and the complexity of his evolving thought, she counteracts the popular notion that Polanyi’s philosophy stands apart from the western philosophic tradition.
Jha’s deep analysis makes Polanyi’s shift of focus from science to philosophy more intelligible, his philosophy more approachable, and the causes he championed—such as the freedom of science and cultural freedom—more understandable. Applying his notion of tacit knowing in practical directions, Jha seeks to bring the study of Polanyi’s philosophy out of the specialists’ enclave and into such fields as ethics and clinical medicine.
In its concern with science as an essentially human enterprise, Science, Faith and Society makes an original and challenging contribution to the philosophy of science. On its appearance in 1946 the book quickly became the focus of controversy.
Polanyi aims to show that science must be understood as a community of inquirers held together by a common faith; science, he argues, is not the use of "scientific method" but rather consists in a discipline imposed by scientists on themselves in the interests of discovering an objective, impersonal truth. That such truth exists and can be found is part of the scientists' faith. Polanyi maintains that both authoritarianism and scepticism, attacking this faith, are attacking science itself.
The Tacit Dimension
Michael Polanyi University of Chicago Press, 2009 Library of Congress BD161.P724 2009 | Dewey Decimal 121
“I shall reconsider human knowledge by starting from the fact that we can know more than we can tell,” writes Michael Polanyi, whose work paved the way for the likes of Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper. The Tacit Dimension argues that tacit knowledge—tradition, inherited practices, implied values, and prejudgments—is a crucial part of scientific knowledge. Back in print for a new generation of students and scholars, this volume challenges the assumption that skepticism, rather than established belief, lies at the heart of scientific discovery.
“Polanyi’s work deserves serious attention. . . . [This is a] compact presentation of some of the essentials of his thought.”—Review of Metaphysics
“Polanyi’s work is still relevant today and a closer examination of this theory that all knowledge has personal and tacit elements . . . can be used to support and refute a variety of widely held approaches to knowledge management.”—Electronic Journal of Knowledge
"The reissuing of this remarkable book give us a new opportunity to see how far-reaching—and foundational—Michael Polanyi's ideas are, on some of the age-old questions in philosophy."—Amartya Sen, from the new Foreword