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Polanyi, Michael (1891–1976)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD079-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Michael Polanyi was almost unique among philosophers in not only fully acknowledging but in arguing from the tacit dimensions of our knowledge which concern the many things which we know but cannot state nor even identify. He argued that our knowledge is a tacit, personal integration of subsidiary clues into a focal whole, and he elaborated this structure of knowing into a corresponding ontology and cosmology of a world of comprehensive entities and actions which are integrations of lower levels into higher ones. Polanyi used these accounts of knowing and being to argue against the ‘critical’ demands for impersonal, wholly objective and fully explicit knowledge, against reductionist attempts to explain higher levels in terms of lower ones, and to defend the freedom of scientific research and a free society generally.

Citing this article:
Allen, R.T.. Polanyi, Michael (1891–1976), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD079-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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