The Way of Discovery: An Introduction to the Thought of Michael Polanyi

Gelwick, Richard

Polanyi's magnum opus, Personal Knowledge, is for the hearty reader. Gelwick focuses on its essential theme in a very readable style. That theme is the critique of the widely held notion that scientific knowledge, or any other form of knowledge, is, or can be, "objective knowledge." In Personal Knowledge, as Gelwick explains, Polanyi advocates the complete abandonment of that notion, and its replacement with the theory of "personal knowledge." Much of Gelwick's book reviews Polanyi's arguments. One of Polanyi's points is that the theory of knowledge as "objective" tries to separate knowledge from the knower. But for Polanyi this is not only a complete distortion of the actual nature of human knowledge, it is a self-alienating absurdity. How can there be knowledge without a person as knower? Indeed, as Gelwick makes clear, Polanyi centers the creation and existence of knowledge on the individual knower.

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