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Which clippings match 'Tacit' keyword pg.1 of 1
31 JULY 2012

Michael Polanyi and tacit knowledge

"Central to Michael Polanyi's thinking was the belief that creative acts (especially acts of discovery) are shot–through or charged with strong personal feelings and commitments (hence the title of his most famous work Personal Knowledge). Arguing against the then dominant position that science was somehow value–free, Michael Polanyi sought to bring into creative tension a concern with reasoned and critical interrogation with other, more 'tacit', forms of knowing.

Polanyi's argument was that the informed guesses, hunches and imaginings that are part of exploratory acts are motivated by what he describes as 'passions'. They might well be aimed at discovering 'truth', but they are not necessarily in a form that can be stated in propositional or formal terms. As Michael Polanyi (1967: 4) wrote in The Tacit Dimension, we should start from the fact that 'we can know more than we can tell'. He termed this pre–logical phase of knowing as 'tacit knowledge'. Tacit knowledge comprises a range of conceptual and sensory information and images that can be brought to bear in an attempt to make sense of something (see Hodgkin 1991). Many bits of tacit knowledge can be brought together to help form a new model or theory. This inevitably led him to explore connoisseurship and the process of discovery (rather than with the validation or refutation of theories and models – in contrast with Popper, for example)."

(Mark K. Smith 2003, infed.org)

Smith, M. K. (2003) 'Michael Polanyi and tacit knowledge', the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/thinkers/polanyi.htm.

Hodgkin, R. (1991) 'Michael Polanyi – Prophet of life, the universe and everything' Times Higher Educational Supplement, September 27, page 15.

Polanyi, Michael (1967) The Tacit Dimension, New York: Anchor Books. (108 + xi pages). Based on the 1962 Terry lectures (Yale) this book provides an overview of tacit knowledge. He looks at tacit knowing, emergence and the significance of a society of explorers.

TAGS

acts of discovery • connoisseurship • creative acts • critical analysisdiscovery process • exploratory acts • formal logic • hunchesimaginingsinductive reasoning • infed.org • informed guess • Karl Popperlogical-analytical paradigm • Mark Smith • Michael Polanyiobjectivity • passions • personal commitments • personal feelings • Personal Knowledge (book) • pre-logical phase of knowing • propositional logic • reasoned interrogation • reasoning • refutation • Robin Hodgkin • sensemakingtacit • tacit forms of knowing • tacit knowledge • The Tacit Dimension (book) • theories and models • theory building • theory validation • truth • value-free science • we can know more than we can te

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
10 DECEMBER 2008

A Model of Collaborative Knowledge Building

"Martin Heidegger (1927/1996) (an important recent German philosopher) and Donald Schön (1983) (an influential American theoretician of design) argue that learning starts on the basis of tacit pre–understanding (Polanyi, 1962; Winograd & Flores, 1986) (see chapter 4). Some form of breakdown in planning or in our worldly activity renders elements of this tacit understanding problematic on occasion (Dewey & Bentley, 1949/1991). The network of meanings by which we make sense of our world is torn asunder and must be mended. The resolution of the problem proceeds through a gnawing awareness of the problematic nature of some piece of our understanding. We may be able to repair our understanding by explicating the implications of that understanding and resolving conflicts or filling in gaps–by reinterpreting our meaning structures–to arrive at a new comprehension. This typically involves some feedback from the world: from our experience with artifacts such as our tools and symbolic representations. For instance, we might learn a new sense of some word or a new application of a familiar tool–more ambitiously, our understanding might undergo a fundamental conceptual change. If we are successful and the problem disappears, this new comprehension gradually settles in to become our new tacit understanding and to provide the starting point for future understanding and further learning.
The process of interpretation that seems to be carried out at the level of the individual mind is already an essentially social process. The network of 'personal' meanings ultimately has its origin in interpersonal language and culture. Interpretation takes place within language (Wittgenstein, 1953), history (Gadamer, 1960/1988), culture (Bourdieu, 1972/1995; Bruner, 1990; Cole, 1996), social structures (Giddens, 1984b) and politics (Habermas, 1981/1984). Our 'internal' thought process capabilities and structures themselves have origins in our previous social interactions (Mead, 1934/1962; Vygotsky, 1930/1978). Our personal interpretive perspective or voice is a consolidation of many perspectives and voices or genres of others we have known (Bakhtin, 1986b; Boland & Tenkasi, 1995)."
(Gerry Stahl)

Stahl, G. (2006). Group cognition: Computer support for building collaborative knowledge. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

TAGS

2006Anthony Giddens • Arthur Bentley • constellationscultural signalsdialogicDonald SchonengagementFernando Flores • George Mead • Gerry StahlHans-Georg Gadamerindividualinformation in contextintegrationJohn DeweyLev VygotskyLudwig WittgensteinMartin HeideggermetaphorMichael PolanyiMikhail Bakhtinmodelnetwork • network of meanings • ontologyPierre Bourdieu • Ramkrishnan Tenkasi • Richard Boland • shared languagesocial constructionismtacitTerry Winograd

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 SEPTEMBER 2005

Horizontal and Vertical Discourses

"Horizontal Discourse
We are all aware and use a form of knowledge usually typified as everyday or "common sense" knowledge. Common because all potentially or actually have access to it, common because it applies to all, and common because it has a common history in the sense of arising out of common problems of living and dying. This form has a group of well known features: it is likely to be oral, local, context dependent and specific, tacit, multi–layered and contradictory across but not within contexts. However, from the point of view to be taken here, the crucial feature is that is it segmentally organised. By segmental I am referring to the sites of realisation of this discourse. The realisation of this discourse varies with the way the culture segments and specialises activities and practices. The knowledge is segmentally differentiated. Because the discourse is Horizontal it does not mean that all segments have equal importance, clearly some will be more important than others. I shall contrast this Horizontal discourse with what I shall call a Vertical discourse.

Vertical Discourse
Briefly a Vertical discourse takes the form of a coherent, explicit and systematically principled structure, hierarchically organised as in the sciences, or it takes the form of a series of specialised languages with specialised modes of interrogation and specialised criteria for the production and circulation of texts as in the social sciences and humanities. I want first of all to raise the question of how knowledge circulates in these two discourses. In the case of Vertical discourse there are strong distributive rules regulating access, regulating transmission and regulating evaluation. Circulation is accomplished usually through explicit forms of recontextualising affecting distribution in terms of time, space and actors. I am not here concerned with the arenas and agents involved in these regulations. Basically, circulation is accomplished through explicit recontextualisation and evaluation, motivated by strong distributive procedures. But how does knowledge circulate in the case of Horizontal discourse where there is little systematic organising principles and therefore only tacit recontextualising? Of course in Horizontal discourse there are distributive rules regulating the circulation of knowledge, behaviour and expectations according to status/position. Such distributive rules structure and specialise social relations, practices and their context and local agents of its enactment and begin to circulate? – A Horizontal discourse entails a set of strategies which are local, segmentally organised, context specific and dependent, for maximising encounters with persons and habitats."
(Basil Bernstein 2000, p.157)

Bernstein, Basil. (2000). Pedagogy Symbolic Control and Identity Theory Research Critique. Oxford, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

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