Michael Polanyi: The Tacit Dimension (1966–) [EN, DE]

4 April 2014, dusan

“‘I shall reconsider human knowledge by starting from the fact that we can know more than we can tell,’ writes Michael Polanyi, whose work paved the way for the likes of Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper. The Tacit Dimension argues that tacit knowledge—tradition, inherited practices, implied values, and prejudgments—is a crucial part of scientific knowledge. This volume challenges the assumption that skepticism, rather than established belief, lies at the heart of scientific discovery.”

Publisher Doubleday, Garden City/NY, 1966
104 pages
via James L. Kelley

Commentaries: Steven Shapin (London Review of Books, 2011), CP Goodman (Polanyiana, 2003)

The Tacit Dimension (English, 1966, no OCR, pp 96-97 missing)
Implizites Wissen (German, trans. Horst Brühmann, 1985, no OCR)

Donald MacKenzie: Knowing Machines: Essays on Technical Change (1996)

2 January 2013, dusan

Ranging from broad inquiries into the roles of economics and sociology in the explanation of technological change to an argument for the possibility of “uninventing” nuclear weapons, this selection of Donald MacKenzie’s essays provides a solid introduction to the style and substance of the sociology of technology.

Two conceptual essays are followed by seven empirical essays focusing on the laser gyroscopes that are central to modern aircraft navigation technology, supercomputers (with a particular emphasis on their use in the design of nuclear weapons), the application of mathematical proof in the design of computer systems, computer-related accidental deaths, and the nature of the knowledge that is needed to design a nuclear bomb. Two of the articles won major prizes on their original journal publication. A substantial new introduction outlines the common themes underlying this body of work and places them in the context of recent debates in technology studies.

Publisher MIT Press, 1996
Inside Technology series
ISBN 0262133156, 9780262133159
338 pages

review (Brian Martin, Metascience)

google books


Harry Collins: Tacit and Explicit Knowledge (2010)

14 November 2012, dusan

“Much of what humans know we cannot say. And much of what we do we cannot describe. For example, how do we know how to ride a bike when we can’t explain how we do it? Abilities like this were called “tacit knowledge” by physical chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi, but here Harry Collins analyzes the term, and the behavior, in much greater detail, often departing from Polanyi’s treatment.

In Tacit and Explicit Knowledge, Collins develops a common conceptual language to bridge the concept’s disparate domains by explaining explicit knowledge and classifying tacit knowledge. Collins then teases apart the three very different meanings, which, until now, all fell under the umbrella of Polanyi’s term: relational tacit knowledge (things we could describe in principle if someone put effort into describing them), somatic tacit knowledge (things our bodies can do but we cannot describe how, like balancing on a bike), and collective tacit knowledge (knowledge we draw that is the property of society, such as the rules for language). Thus, bicycle riding consists of some somatic tacit knowledge and some collective tacit knowledge, such as the knowledge that allows us to navigate in traffic. The intermixing of the three kinds of tacit knowledge has led to confusion in the past; Collins’s book will at last unravel the complexities of the idea.

Tacit knowledge drives everything from language, science, education, and management to sport, bicycle riding, art, and our interaction with technology. In Collins’s able hands, it also functions at last as a framework for understanding human behavior in a range of disciplines.”

Publisher University of Chicago Press, 2010
ISBN 0226113809, 9780226113807
xiv+186 pages

Reviews: Alan Warde (Sociological Review, 2010), Massimo Mazzotti (Isis, 2011), Wiebe E. Bijker (Technology & Culture, 2011), Stephen P. Turner (Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 2011), Park Doing (Social Studies of Science, 2011), Joseph Agassi (Philosophy of Social Sciences, 2013).
Commentary: Philosophia Scientiae (Léna Soler, Sjoerd D. Zwart et al., 2013).