The Tacit Dimension

Author: Michael Polanyi
Publisher: DOUBLEDAY & CO INC; 1st edition
Published: January 1, 1966
Language: English


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 methods’ but rather consists in a discipline imposed by scientists on themselves in the interest of discovering an objective, impersonal truth.

“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.

Michael Polanyi was a Hungarian-British polymath, who made important theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, economics, and philosophy.

His wide-ranging research in physical science included chemical kinetics, x-ray diffraction, and adsorption of gases. He argued that positivism supplies a false account of knowing, which if taken seriously undermines humanity’s highest achievements. He pioneered the theory of fibre diffraction analysis in 1921, and the dislocation theory of plastic deformation of ductile metals and other materials in 1934. He emigrated to Germany, in 1926 becoming a chemistry professor at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and then in 1933 to England, becoming first a chemistry professor, and then a social sciences professor at the University of Manchester. In 1944 Polanyi was elected to the Royal Society.


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