Polanyi's title is really a concise (though greatly simplified) abstract of his scientific theory: a way of knowing in which the subject and its meaning are understood according to common ''intrinsic creative powers'' present in both human thought and the nature of the subject itself. He calls this indivisible unity the ''biological mechanism'' by which knowledge exists and expands perpetually. Imposing a system of orderliness from the outside (as exemplified by the ''scientific method'') breaks down this natural cohesion and results in a dualistic (and therefore incomplete) way of understanding. Polanyi maintains that society -- and the community it represents -- mirror the universe's ability to reveal itself, embodying a creative force by which we come to meaning and truth. Put another way, this process (as described by the Church Fathers) might be termed fides quaerens intellectum
-- faith in search of understanding.
An Eighth Day View:
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.