Michael Polanyi summarized his mature thought in Harvard University's 1962 Terry Lectures. The lectures, here reprinted in a sturdy hardbound volume, address the fundamental question: 'How can we understand any phenomena complex enough to be truly valuable?' One thinks of morality, love, and the sacramental life. Polanyi's answer -- surprising yet convincing -- invokes a tacit, unspoken and unspeakable, human facility that transposes our sensory perceptions into meaningful knowledge much as a blind man transposes the forces exerted by a cane on his hand into something utterly different: a picture of his nearby world. Polanyi's analysis eschews reductionism, elevates the person to the truly real, and advances a traditionalism that enjoins belief before knowledge. Finally, he warns against the twin fanaticisms of our time: an extreme lucidity that destroys what it seeks to explain and a moral perfectionism that degenerates into a struggle for political power. Polanyi's concise prose is challenging but well worth the effort. 108 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
"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