019517433X, hardback, 368 pages
I've been interested in Polanyi's work since I was a sophomore at Boston College (1971-72). Alan Weinblatt told me that I would enjoy his theory of knowledge and meaning. I later wrote a virtually unreadable honors thesis on "Poetics of Process" in which I used Polanyi's thought to argue that if the universe is meaningful, there must be a God. I continued to mine Polanyi's writings throughout my training as a Jesuit and in my doctoral work at The Catholic University of America (published in a revised form by CUA Press as Personal Catholicism).
William T. Scott was a distinguished theoretical physicist with a lifelong interest in philosophy. Two National Science Foundation Fellowships were critical in his development: at Yale he studied theology and met Michael Polanyi, at Oxford he immersed himself in philosophy and deepened his relationship with Polanyi. Scott found in Polanyi a bridge between authentic science and authentic faith. He began work on Polanyi's biography in 1977 and worked on it for seventeen years; he died on February 22, 1999, the twenty-third anniversary of Michael Polanyi's death. Since Christmas of 1997, I have been working on revising Bill's manuscript. Oxford University Press plans to release the book in 2005.
Polanyi's philosophy of science is rooted in his own experiences as a medical doctor, a physical chemist, and an economist. He was convinced that "all knowledge is tacit or rooted in tacit knowledge." This means that all knowing is personal--objectivity is the accomplishment of subjects who are willing to dedicate themselves to making contact with reality. From this perspective, the physical sciences depend on a metaphysical vision that cannot be put wholly into words nor proven in detail. Science, like religion, is an act of personal commitment that gives meaning to the whole of life.