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Rethinking Michael Polanyi's realism: from personal kowledge to intersubjectively viable communication

Ray, Tim (2008). Rethinking Michael Polanyi's realism: from personal kowledge to intersubjectively viable communication. Prometheus, 26(3) pp. 241–257.

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Fifty years after the publication of Michael Polanyi's magnum opus, Personal Knowledge, the fashion for Knowledge Management (KM) has helped to institutionalise a redefinition of his distinction between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. But KM's redefinition of Polanyi's argument misrepresents his insights into the process of personal tacit 'knowing' and overlooks the implications of his faith in metaphysical 'being'. This paper explores the significance of Polanyi's original concept of tacit knowledge, together with the consequences of assuming a 'vertical' connection between personal knowledge and faith in an unknowable absolute truth. By using faith to protect personal knowledge from the charge of subjectivism, Polanyi precluded the possibility that different people, who interact in different contexts and believe in different things, could develop viable modes of knowing and learning. However, rethinking Polanyi's philosophy with regard to Ernst von Glasersfeld's radical constructivism, which is derived from intersubjectively viable 'horizontal' communication, allows the virtues of tacit knowledge to be separated from the complications of metaphysical realism.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2008 Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1470-1030
Keywords: communication; knowledge management; radical constructivism; tacit knowledge; truth
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for Strategy and Marketing
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 27799
Depositing User: Jackie Fry
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2011 12:04
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 09:51
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