Ryle and Oakeshott on the “Knowing-How/Knowing-That” DistinctionLeslie MarshThe
Nature of Rationality
Politics make a call upon knowledge. Consequently, it is not irrelevant to inquire into the
of knowledge which is involved.
— OakeshottGilbert Ryle’s “Knowing How/Knowing That” distinction (KH/KT) gave crisparticulation to a long-standing epistemological concern that Michael Oakeshott had: that is,what is the epistemic status of the area that comprises our waking lives, the domain ofpractical reasoning, of which political practice, on Oakeshott’s account, is but one aspect.
This concern is set against a much broader purview: that of the nature of rationality, or moreaccurately the
nature of rationality.
Rationalism in Politics and other essays, new and expanded edition,
ed. Timothy Fuller(Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1991), 45. Hereafter:
Ryle’s “Knowing How, Knowing That” essay was first published in the
Proceedings of the AristotelianSociety
, New Series, Vol. 45 (1944 – 1945): 1-16. The terms “rationalism” and “knowledge of” and“knowledge about” make an appearance some thirty years earlier than the celebrated formulations of
Rationalism in Politics
Experience and its Modes
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press,1933), 23, 25, 53, 318. Hereafter:
. The original essay “Rationalism in Politics” appeared in the
, Vol. 1 (1947-8): 81-98, 145-57.