polanyi: one of my heros
In one of the courses I get to guide this term, we’re using Michael Polanyi’s ground breaking text, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. As I’ve been preparing and revisiting Polanyi I am undone by his courage, as he stands between science and philosophy; winning few nods from his peers, but changing the world. Thomas Kuhn, Leslie Newbigin, and Brian McLaren are just a few of the many people whose world’s were changed by this book.
In his follow-up book to Personal Knowledge, he writes:
“We must conclude that the paradigmatic case of scientific knowledge, in which all faculties that are necessary for finding and holding scientific knowledge are fully developed, is the knowledge of approaching discovery.
“To hold such knowledge is an act deeply committed to the conviction that there is something there to be discovered. It is personal, in the sense of involving the personality of him who holds it, and also in the sense of being, as a rule, solitary; but there is no trace in it of self-indulgence. The discoverer is filled with a compelling sense of responsibility for the pursuit of a hidden truth, which demands his services for revealing it. His act of knowing exercises a personal judgment in relating evidence to an external reality, an aspect of which he is seeking to apprehend” (Polanyi, Tacit Dimension, 1967, p. 24-5)
Damn that’s good.