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Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  248 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
In this work the distinguished physical chemist and philosopher, Michael Polanyi, demonstrates that the scientist's personal participation in his knowledge, in both its discovery and its validation, is an indispensable part of science itself. Even in the exact sciences, "knowing" is an art, of which the skill of the knower, guided by his personal commitment and his passion ...more
Paperback, 442 pages
Published August 15th 1974 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1958)
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Chris Coffman
Sep 12, 2007 Chris Coffman rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those interested in science and art
This is a densely written book which is rich in ideas. Polanyi was a chemist of the first rank, and the scientific precision with which he expresses himself can be, frankly, tedious; in this respect he reminds me of the phenomenonlogist Edmund Husserl, who was the betrayed mentor of Heidegger.

Perhaps Polanyi's key insight is that there is no certainty--not in scientific facts, nor in logic, nor in rationality. Everything that we "know", we have actually made a personal commitment to accept as tr
...more
Mubarak bin Jerusalem
Reccomend this book to your enemies, especially the ones who act smarter than they are. Why? First, they'll have no excuse of saying it's 'Too old' or 'Outdated.' Second, they've never heard of Polanyi. Third, it's less risky than dosing their drink with acid but equally effective. Fourth, in case you decide not to you can read this obscure, mind breaking book yourself. Shout out 2 Michael Polanyi, I found u amidst a pile of socks.
Colleen
May 03, 2012 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not for the faint-of-heart - it's challenging and difficult in many places, but is one of the few books that Len Sweet assigns to every doctoral class that he teaches. You will definitely be rewarded if you persevere, but maybe find a friend with whom you can discuss and compare notes! It's about the fallacy of the purely scientific method and the impossibility of there being any kind of "objective" knowledge.
Christoph
Jul 03, 2011 Christoph rated it it was ok
Wow, what a long slog this one was.... I have been off-and-on reading this for what feels like two years now. I first happened upon Polyani after reading a pamphlet of his that touched on one of the themes of this work, that science is not a dogmatic authoritarian system of reason but an art that is practiced using all the inequitable faculties of humans. That work was amazing (I even gave it five stars); but this book was the inevitability of extending that pamphlet across 400 pages of jargon-l ...more
Andrew
This is such a thick, dense book, and so rich with ideas, some of which are brilliant and subtle, some of which reek of bullshit, and a great deal of which contradict each other.

The core of it: think harder about things, science isn't quite as positivist as we think it is, our daily experiences are peppered with acts of faith, and that everything occurs on multiple levels of experience-- our challenge as people-who-know-things is to be cognizant of our acts of faith, and to realize which levels
...more
Joseph Sverker
This is certainly an essential book to read if one is interested in epistemology in general and absolutely necessary if one is wanting to understand more of the scientific method and the myth that is upheld about science's objectivity. Polanyi argues very well, and well informed, about how the scientist needs to be personal in his/her quest for knowledge. Personal knowledge does not directly lead to relativity though. But here I think is the weak point in the book. I didn't perhaps read it as th ...more
Eric
Sep 03, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Philosophy readers
Recommended to Eric by: Brandon Wolfram
Epistemology without the arcane syntax and vocabulary. Also, rather than try to define the mind, reality, and how we know that we know, Polanyi takes the remarkable tack of describing how we know what we know, arguing that we in fact know more than we know how to describe or articulate. I would have given the book 5 stars but for his struggles to reconcile Darwinianism with the fact of human sentience. Polanyi acknowledges human cognizance (denying behaviorism), accepts a form of vitalism, teleo ...more
Andrew
Apr 24, 2012 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a book with whose project I have much sympathy. This sounds awkward and condescending, and that is my fault, but it’s true. It is the effort of a successful chemist (who turned to philosophy later in his career) to engage with the broader implications of scientific knowledge and activity on the wider field of human knowledge. It seeks to challenge what Polanyi considers the orthodoxy of the critical mindset, which he regards as little better than scientism. Ultimately, however, all Polan ...more
Al Maki
May 31, 2015 Al Maki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thinking
“The principle purpose of this book is to achieve a frame of mind in which I may hold firmly to what I believe to be true, even though I know it might conceivably be false.”

A book written by a scientist in the mid 1950's, which, to over-simplify, addresses the problem of belief created by Karl Popper. If the only thing that can be proven about a scientific theory is that it is false then what does it mean to be committed to a theory? Polanyi argues that it is avoiding the question to say that sc
...more
Yang
Nov 02, 2016 Yang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I seldom read a monograph in awe. Yet Polanyi's spirit certainly come alive, jumping out from the curves and lines, to proclaim his own, deep-rooted intellectual passion. I feel myself trembled and almost dare not to continue the pages. The reader should not take the book lightly, because the reading action entails witnessing a true calling, however unspecifiable it is. This is exactly the tacit moment of sharing the same awe/respect of a "superior culture." So it seems, however reluctantly, I m ...more
Leonardo
Oct 13, 2016 Leonardo marked it as to-keep-reference  ·  review of another edition
En un capítulo central de mi libro Verdad y método I defendí este concepto «personal» de experiencia frente al enmascaramiento que ha sufrido con el proceso de institucionalización de las ciencias empíricas, y veo que M. Polanyi sostiene algo parecido.

Verdad y Método II Pág.399
Jillian
Feb 20, 2008 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Polanyi crafted an amazing work here that explores the impossibility of strict objectivity in science and other fields. Even though this book is about fifty years old, Polanyi's language is contemporary and easy to understand. His concepts (to me) were revolutionary. And although there were gaps, as there always are in revolutions, the book was educational. I especially enjoyed his application of tacit knowledge to the written word. (Yes! The scientists speaks on the text!)
Sanford Forte
Dec 21, 2013 Sanford Forte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In "Personal Knowledge" the late Michael Polanyi, a Nobel-prize-winning Physical Chemist - created a tour-de-force analysis that explores the tacit, subjective nature of thought. Polanyi makes a superb case against separating thought into the silos of "fact" and "value". This is not a book for the faint of heart, but a careful read will bring many rewards. It's a classic, and well worth the work that one must put into it.
Ryan
Apr 11, 2012 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, science
Polanyi's book does a good job pointing out the relevance and need for intuitions for the workings of science and in solving the demarcation problem. This book is important for people who want to see from the perspective of science as a human endeavor, instead of seeing science as something a robot or trained monkey could perform.
Glenn Durden
Jun 18, 2012 Glenn Durden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very dense and difficult book to read if you are not a seasoned reader of philosophy. Nevertheless it is worthwhile to plough one's way through it and glean what can be had. I recommend it only to the experienced reader and wish that I was able to get more out of it.
Matthew
Mar 06, 2012 Matthew rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic alternative account of epistemology from the objectivizing non-personal accounts which the enlightenment has brought us. Polanyi is a must read for Christians who are serious about epistemology. Also recommended is Esther Lightcap Meek.
Anna Keating
Feb 03, 2011 Anna Keating rated it liked it
Good times.
Lance
Polanyi's message: Science can no longer stand on its value-free objectivity. Scientists, like most men, bring their values into their work, whether they know it or not.
Jonathan Ward
Mar 29, 2012 Jonathan Ward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The answer to Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason".
mahatma
Dec 05, 2007 mahatma rated it really liked it
sedang dibaca.
tertarik krena polanyi memasuki pertentangan antara dunia seni dan sains.
perkara epistemologi sedang menarik minat saya.
Lisa
Aug 08, 2012 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read this in college, when I had to. Now I WANT to read it.
Celeste De Bease
One of the pillars of my thought development
Tim
Tim rated it it was amazing
Apr 30, 2008
Cindy
Cindy rated it it was amazing
Dec 11, 2012
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Mar 25, 2017
David Phillips
David Phillips rated it it was amazing
Nov 14, 2009
Michael
Michael rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2011
Anneli
Anneli rated it liked it
Mar 01, 2013
Andrejs Mantenieks
Andrejs Mantenieks rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2017
Kevin Glenn
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“So far as we know, the tiny fragments of the universe embodied in man are the only centers of thought and responsibility in the visible world. If that be so, the appearance of the human mind has been so far the ultimate stage in the awakening of the world; and all that has gone before, the striving of myriad centers that have taken the risks of living and believing, seem to have all been pursuing, along rival lines, the aim now achieved by us up to this point. They are all akin to us, for all these centers - those which led up to our own existence and the far more numerous others which produced different lines of which many are extinct - may be seen engaged in the same endeavor towards ultimate liberation. We may envisage then a cosmic field which called forth all these centers by offering them a short-lived, limited, hazardous opportunity for making some progress of their own towards an unthinkable consummation. And that is also, I believe, how a Christian is placed when worshiping God.” 8 likes
“Christianity sedulously fosters, and in a sense permanently satisfies, man's craving for mental dissatisfaction by offering him the comfort of a crucified God.” 6 likes
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