Scientific Research as a Personal Knowledge: Michael Polanyi’s Epistemological Heritage

Matěj Pudil



Continuously from the 1940s, Michael Polanyi comments on topics that have resonated later since the 1960s in the works of his fellow theorists of science, philosophers of natural sciences, and epistemologists (for the purposes of this study, only T. S. Kuhn and K. R. Popper are mentioned). First part of this article provides a brief reconstruction of Polanyi’s concept of „personal knowledge“ which focuses mainly on the interconnection of the individual level of scientific research with its social dimension. My aim is to evaluate the potential of this concept for the interpretation of research fields where sciences are in close contact with other disciplines. I am convinced that Polanyi’s original approach to the problem of reality (or degrees of reality as he puts it) should be read as an advocacy of diversity of thought. In my interpretation, Polanyi carries out some form of philosophical therapy of science and its self-concept, which, like the whole of Western society, has undergone dramatic changes over the last century.


Michael Polanyi; tacit knowledge; personal knowledge; postpositivism; stratified universum

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