THE TACIT DIMENSION

MICHAEL POLANYI

DOUBLEDAY GARDEN

&

COMPANY, NEW

INC. YORK

CITY,

1966

·1 I

ACKNOWLEDGM

E

LIB RAR Y OF CAT A LOG CARD

CONGRESS

N U M BE R

66 -

2 101

5

COPYRIGHT BY ALL MICHAEL RIGHTS PRINTED UNITED STATES FIRST

© 1966
POL ANYI RESERVED IN OF EDITION TIlE AMERICA

I am grateful to Yale University for the invitation to deliver the Terry : from which this book has been deve of the book took shape during my College, Oxford, as Senior Research first expounded in public lectures del: versity of Virginia in 1961. I deve. further during my stay at the Cen Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at I University where Llectured during the and at Wesleyan University where I low at' its Center for Advanced Studi I gratefully remember my friends who thoughts and enriched them. Professo Wesleyan, Professor Marjorie Grene of California, and my wife (who also dex) read the manuscript and did me better shape. I wish to thank Professor Harry W 0 the Department of the History of Scii permission to use part of my essay "S( Place in the Universe" which appear( as a Cultural Force (Tohns Hopkins Pre

When I asked him about the pursuit of pure science in Soviet Russia. Though he was heading toward his fall and execution three years later. he was still a leading theoretician of the Communist party. for it will also explain the general task to which my present lecture should introduce us. This conception denied altogether any intrinsic OME OF 5 3 . for the interests of scientists would spontaneously turn to problems of the current Five-~ Year Plan.up against the Soviet ideology under Stalin which denied justification to the pursuit of science. I remember a conversation I had with Bukharin in Moscow in 1935.. under socialism the conception of science pursued for its own sake would disappear.I you may know that I turned to philosophy as an afterthought to my career as a scientist. I first met questions of philosophy when I came . I was struck by the fact that this denial of the very existence of independent scientific thought came from a socialist theory which derived its tremendous persuasive power from its claim to scientific certainty. I would like to tell you what I was after in making this change. The scientific outlook appeared to have produced a mechanical conception of man and history in which there was no place for science itself. he said that pure science was a morhid symptom of a class society.

This very act ( displays a knowledge that we can There are many other instance tion of a characteristic physiogn monplace. They have made a large collection of pictures showing a variety of noses. We know a person's face. But can it not be argued. So most of this knowledge cannot be put into words. Take an example. The mechanical course of history was to bring universal justice. once possibility of teaching these appea cal exercises proves that we can te of them? The answer is that we c. This fact seems obvious enough. but it is not easy to say exactly what it means. mouths. But the a] police method does not change i vious to it we did know more tha: the time.THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING I power to thought and thus denied also any grounds for claiming freedom of thought. seems to emerge. At the universities spent in practical classes to teach tify cases of diseases and specim plants and animals. others more technicalsame structure as theidentification recognize the moods of the human ing able to tell. we can use t only by knowing how to match tJ member with those in the collectic ten how we do this. < then be put together to form a rea ness of the face. So I resolved to inquire into the roots of this condition. and can recognize it among a thousand. merits. But the police have recently introduced a method by which we can communicate much of this knowledge. Scientific skepticism would trust only material necessity for achieving universal brotherhood. our knowled nomy. Yet we usually cannot ten how we recognize a face we know. rooted in the universe. Skepticism and utopianism had thus fused into a new skeptical fanaticism. except quite vague we know it. All descriptii physiognomies that cannot be it words. relying on the pupil's intelligent catching the meaning of the demor any definition of a word denoting: mu~t ulti~ate1y rely on pointing ThIS nammg-cum-pointing is calk 4 5 . My search has led me to a novel idea of human knowledge from which a harmonious view of thought and existence. after all. nor even by pictures. Moreover. From these the witness selects the particulars of the face he knows. and other features. This may suggest municate. and jthat this combination had generated both our tightaipped modem revolutions and the tormented selfI Idoubt of modern man outside revolutionary move. I saw also that this self-immolation of the mind was actuated by powerful moral motives. \\ It seemed 'to me then that our whole civilization was pervaded by the dissonance of an extreme critileal lucidity and an intense moral conscience. indeed among a million. provided we are given ad expressing ourselves. I shall reconsider human knowledge by starting from the fact that we can know more than we can tell.

without being able to tell. There are many other instances of the recognition of a characteristic physiognomy-some commonplace. This very act of communication displays a knowledge that we cannot tell. But the application of the police method does not change the fact that previous to it we did know mOTe than we could tell at the time. rooted in the universe.rAClT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING . . Moreover. Take an example. provided we are given adequate means for expressing ourselves. by what signs we know it. once more. and we cannot tell how we do this. nor even by pictures. mouths. our knowledge of a physiognomy. This may suggest that we can communicate. by relying on the pupil's intelligent co-operation for catching the meaning of the demonstration.is self-immolation of the mind verful moral motives. but it is not " hat it means. Skepan had thus fused into a new hen that our whole civilization dissonance of an extreme critiintense moral conscience. and n had generated both our tightutions and the tormented selfan outside revolutionary moveto inquire into the roots of this me to a novel idea of human hich a harmonious view of e. and can recognize it ndeed among a million. we can use the police method only by knowing how to match the features we remember with those in the collection. others more technical-which have the same structure as the identification of a person. of plants and animals. any definition of a word denoting an external thing must ultimately rely on pointing at such a thing. and the pieces can then be put together to form a reasonably good likeness of the face. except quite vaguely. This naming-cum-pointing is called "an ostensive 4 5 . Yet we how we recognize a face we s knowledge cannot be put into ce have recently introduced a can communicate much of this ve made a large collection of variety of noses. 's face. The mehistory was to bring universal iticism would trust only material 19 universal brotherhood. Indeed. We recognize the moods of the human face. seems human knowledge by starting 'e cali know more than we can obvious enough. At the universities great efforts are spent in practical classes to teach students to identify cases of diseases'and specimens of rocks. after all. and I these the witness selects the particulars of the face he knows. All descriptive sciences study physiognomies that cannot be fully described in words. But can it not he argued.d thus denied also any grounds n of thought. that the possibility of teaching these appearances by practical exercises proves that we can tell our knowledge of them? The answer is that we can do so only.

and of ] instances of the artof knowing. and this philosophic expression conceals a gap to be bridged by an intelligent effort on the part of the person to whom we want to tell what the word means. presented a person with a large nu syllables. and this changes the range and perspective of the whole subject. both of which we len of which we can tell. The art of the expert diagnostician may be listed next. KNQWIN( definition". I am looking at Gestalt. Perception. of probes. Gestalt psychology has assumed that perception of a physiognomy takes place through the spontaneous equilibration of its particulars impressed on the retina or on the brain. and after showing certan 6 7 )" . As such to form the bridge between tb p~ers of man and the bodily pl prominent in the operations of r: Some recent psychological ( shown in isolation the princips which knowledge is tacitly acquii have heard of these experiments diabolical machinery of hidden pe: they are but elementary demonsti ulty by which we apprehend the two events. to cover both prai cal knowledge. This is particularly clear in ing. We have here examples of knowing. The structure of Gestalt is then recast into a logic of tacit thought. now appears as the 1 form of tacit knowing. athletic. I shail alway ing." therefore. a: list also the denotative use of lan~ verbal pointing. We can. Gestalt psychology has demonstrated that we may know a physiognomy by integrating our awareness of its particulars without being able to identify these particulars. as the outcome of an active shaping of experience performed in the pursuit of knowledge. as a somewhat impoverished form of discovery. which intimately combines s expert observation. accordi: use of tools. on which Gestalt P' its attention. and my analysis of knowledge is closely linked to this discovery of Gestalt psychology. But I shall attend to aspects of Gestalt which have been hitherto neglected. once discovered. However. and we may put in the same class the performance of skills. This shaping or integrating I hold to be the great and indispensable tacit power by which all knowledge is discovered and. Our message had left something behind that we could not tell. is held to be true. These are manifested in the tacit power of scientific and artistic genius. on the contrary. both of a more intellectual and more 1 the "wissen" and "kimnen" of th "knowing what" and the "known Ryle. The highest forms of integration 100m largest now.THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT. psychologists call t faculty a process of "subception. whether artistic. Following the example set by Cleary in 1949. and its reception must rely on it that the person addressed will discover that which we have not been able to communicate. These two aspects of know structure' and neither is ever pI other. or technical.

and after showing certain of the syllables. or the "knowing what" and the "knowing how" of Gilbert Ryle. Many of you have heard of these experiments as revealing the diabolical machinery of hidden persuasion."? These authors presented a person with a large number of nonsense syllables. and of pointers as further instances of the art of knowing. n largest now. king at Gestalt. psychologists call the exercise of this faculty a process of "subception. on which Gestalt psychology centered its attention. vVe can. I shall always speak of "knowing. brain. 7 . both of which we know. an active shaping of experience mrsuit of knowledge. But rects of Gestalt which have been Gestalt psychology has assumed f a physiognomy takes place aneous equilibration of its paron the retina or on the. whether artistic. and may add to our list also the denotative use of language. accordingly. Actually." therefore. now appears as the most impoverished form of tacit knowing. TIle highest forms . philosophic expression conceals I by an intelligent effort on the to whom we want to tell what Jur message had left something ruld not ten. which intimately combines skillful testing with expert observation. both the "wissen" and "kiinnen" of the Germans. and its reception It the person addressed will disve have not been able to com3' has demonstrated that we may uy by integrating our awareness :hout being able to identify these analysis of knowledge is closely Ivery of Gestalt psychology. As such it will be shown to form the bridge between the higher creative p()"Y(. they are but elementary demonstrations of the faculty by which we apprehend the relation between two events. of probes. both 6 of a more intellectual and more practical kind. to cover both practical and theoretical knowledge.psychological experiments have shown in isolation the principal mechanism by which knowledge is tacitly acquired. Perception. Following the example set by Lazarus and MeCleary in 1949. These two aspects of knowing have a similar structure and neither -is ever present without the other.TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING . athletic. Gestalt is then recast into a logic md this changes the range and whole subject. Some recent . is held to be true. This shap: hold to be the great and indisver by which all knowledge is ~e discovered. These are manipower of scientific and artistic the expert diagnostician may be newhat impoverished form of disy put in the same class the peri. as a kind of verbal pointing. interpret the use of tools. This is particularly clear in the art of diagnosing.rsof man and the bodily processes which are prominent in the operations of perception. on the contrary. but only one of which we can tell. or : here examples of knowing.

" Presently. which is not easy to dispel when anyone speaks of things he knows and cannot tell. The subje tify them. In subject was shocked after being sl sense syllables. He had acquired a knowledge similar to that which we have when we know a person by signs which we cannot tell.'know the electric shock. the person learned to forestall the shock by avoiding the utterance of such associations. his awareness of these particu pose of attending to the electric s Here we have the basic definiti. but. He was relying on his aware: producing particulars only in thei electric shock. He had come to know when to expect a shock. shock which followed them was ' After the subject had learned to c terms. and he learned to In the second series he learned uttering of certain associations. Presently the person showed symptoms of anticipating the shock at the sight of "shock syllables". The experimenter observes that another person has a certain knowledge that he cannot tell. and hence the fiably known.2 They exposed a person to a shock whenever he happened to utter associations to certain "shock words. These experiments show most clearly what is meant by saying that one can know more than one can tell. This is prevented here by the division of roles between the subject and the observer. it appear_edthat he did not know he was doing this. This kind of subception has the structure of a skill. It combines two kinds .THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING they administered an electric shock. but could not tell how he worked it. according to relations that we cannot define. yet he relied on his a for anticipating the electric shod Here we see the basic structure It always involves two things. forming . the sight of the shock syll expectation of a shock and the shock associations was suppressed shock. Why did this connection would seem that this was due to subject was riveting his attention shock. w the shock. then. but he could not tell what made him expect it. subception 8 was induced by electric shock. Here the subject got to know a practical operation. on questioning. or rn We may call them the two terms In the experiments the shock sy' associations formed the first term. We may say that 11 on. on questioning. In both experiments that I have cited. he could not identify them. But we know the particulars only by relying on our { 9 . by attending to it. for a skill combines elementary muscular acts which are not identifiable. yet. and so no one speaks of a knowledge he himself has and cannot tell. We may carry forward. For the experimental arrangement wards off the suspicion of self-contradiction. the following result. In both cases the she ticulars remained tacit. Another variant of this phenomenon was demonstrated by Eriksen and Kuethe in 1958. relation between the first and secor knowledge.

the sight of the -shock syllables evoked the expectation of a shock and the utterance of the shock associations was suppressed in order to avoid shock. We know the electric shock. The subject could not identify them. This is prevented here by ~s between the subject and the mmenter observes that another 1 knowledge that he cannot tell.2 They ex1 shock whenever he happened to certain "shock words. which is not m anyone speaks of things he tell. In the second series he learned to suppress the uttering of certain associations. Why did this connection remain tacit? It would seem that this was due to the fact that the subject was riveting his attention on the electric shock. Here we see the basic structure of tacit knowing. He had come to know ock. He had acquired a knowledge h we have when we know a perwe cannot tell. He was relying on his awareness of the shockproducing particulars _only in their bearing on the electric shock. the following result. show most clearly what is at one can know more than one xperimental arrangement wards : self-contradiction. forming _ the second term. but he could not tell what . We may call them the two terms of tacit knowing. We may say that he learned to rely on his awareness of th-ese particulars for the purpose of attending to the electric shock. which would evoke the shock. but.rACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING . we know the shock-producing particulars only by relying on our own awareness of a 9 . _But. the subject got to know a praccould not tell how he worked it. Here we have the basic definition of the logical relation between the first and second term of tacit knowledge.n electric shock. It always involves two things. subception 8 was induced by electric shock. If this phenomenon was demonand Kuethe in 1958. and the electric shock which followed them was the second term. elementary muscular acts which . by attending to it. yet he relied on his awareness of them for anticipating the electric shock. In the first series the subject was shocked after being shown certain nonsense syllables. then. In both cases the shock-producing particulars remained tacit. yet. on eared that he did not know he . on questioning. Presently the otorns of anticipating the shock k syllables". It combines two kinds of knowing. . according to relations that we Its. cs of a knowledge he himself has rward. and hence the subject is spedfiably known. ts that I have cited. and he learned to expect this event.tion has the structure of a skill. y them. or two kinds of things." Presarned to forestall the shock by Ice of such associations. After the subject had learned to connect these two terms. In the experiments the shock syllables and shock associations formed the first term.

are aware of seeing these syllable on which we are focusing our ~ the probability of an electric sh to the case of a physiognomy. of which we have a knowledge that we may not be able to tell. namely the electric shock. Such is the functional relation between the two terms of tacit knowing: we know the first term only by relying on our awareness of it for attending to the second. it suddenly merits and drops between them. from the first term to the second term of the tacit relation. And I would say. Using the language of anatomy.knowing we attend from something for attending to something else. In the case of a human physiognomy. likewise. a skill. This is their meanins 1: . then. It is the proximal term. The expectation of a sl had been vague and unceasii sharply fluctuating. we are aware of its sever: in terms of the performance to "" is directed. w are aware of its features in tern norny to which we are attendinso· . : even though we do notlearn to J syllables as distinct from other s come aware of facing shock s' the apprehension it evokes in us. We may say. without becoming able to identify them. In his book on freedom of the will. in ge: aware of the proximal term of an ing in the appearance of its di aware of that from which we an other thing. We are attending from these elementary movements to the achievement of their joint purpose. In many ways the first term of this relation will prove to be nearer to us. the second further away from us. and hence are usually unable to specify these elementary acts. I would now say that we rely on our awareness of its features for attending to the characteristic appearance of a face. and thus may be unable to specify the features. namely. Austin Farrar has spoken at one point of disattending from certain things for attending to others. We may call this the functional structure of tacit knowmg. This is how we come to know these particulars. and hence our knowledge of them remains tacit. I shall adopt a variant of this usage by saying that in an act of tacit . and the second term distal.. that we are relying on our awareness of a combination of muscular acts for attending to the performance of a skill.THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWINI them for attending to something else. in theaptJ'earance ( may call this the phenomenal knowing. a 11 . We are attending from the features to the face. we may call the first term proximal. we may say that they sig of a shock. 10 But we may ask: does not thE experimental setting-composed syllables and the electric shoe change when we learn to anticij sight of certain syllables? It does. tle way. But there is a significance in t two terms of tacit knowinz wl functional and phenomenal a~pecl of certain syllables makes us { shock.

we do become aware of facing a shock syllable in terms of the apprehension it evokes in us. We may call this the phenomenal structure of tacit knowing. we may say that we are aware o~ its features in terms of the physiognomy to which we are attending. The expectation of a shock. which is the probability of an electric shock. So we may say that even though we do not learn to recognize the shock syllables as distinct from other syllables. in the appearance of that thing. namelyihe :l hence our knowledge of them s is how we come to know these ut becoming able to identify : functional relation between the knowing: we know the first term our awareness of it for attending freedom of the will. and hence are specify these elementary acts. In the exercise of a skill. I shall adopt a . I would ~lyon our awareness of its features :he characteristic appearance of a ending from the features to the r be unable to specify the features. ~eby saying that in an act of tacit i from something for attending to imely. we may say that they signify the approach of a shock.~ TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOViTING g to something else.ikewise. But there is a significance in the relation of the two terms of tacit knowing which combines its function~l and phenomenal aspects. We may say. . Austin Farrar ~ point of disattending from cer:ending to others. We functional structure of tacit know10 Bu~ we may ask: does not the appearance of the expenmental setting-composed of the nonsense syllables and the electric shocks-undergo some change when we learn to anticipate a shock at the sight of certain syllables? It does. we may call the first term btoxind term distal. We could 11 . it suddenly rises at some moments and drops between them. in general. We are atse elementary movements to the ieir joint purpose. that we are aware of the proximal term of an act of tacit knowing in the appearance of its distal term. When the sight of certain syllables makes us expect an electric shock. which at first had been vague and unceasing. Using the Ian. we are aware of its several muscular moves in terms of the performance to which our attention is directed. It is the proximal ieh we have a knowledge that we to tell. that we arerelying on our nbination of muscular acts for atnformance of a skill. Applying this to the case of a physiognomy. In many ways the . In other words. we are aware of that from which we are attending to another thing. and in a very subtle way. we are aware of seeing these syllables in terms of that on which we are focusing our attention. now becomes sharply fluctuating.elation will prove to be nearer to ther away from us. This is their meaning to us. from the first term to the e tacit relation. a human physiognomy.

mal term represents the patticulai. our awareness of its impact on our hand is transformed into a sense of its point touching the objects we are exploring. It is in terms of their meaning that they enter into the appearance of that to which we are attending from them. It is their meaning to which our attention is directed.THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING say. We may call this the semantic knowing. that a characteristic physiognomy is the meaning of its features' which is. 12 13 . which tells us what tacit kno edge of. we may ide understanding of the comprehensi these two terms jointly constitute. what we do say when a physiognomy expresses a particular mood. that the entity by relying on our awarene lars for attending to their joint me T11is analysis can be applied wit sults to the case of visual percept» long ago established that the way' is determined by our awareness of ( side our body. o~ the w~y a blind man feels his way by tapping with a stick. to which \ 1 2. the fact remains that the two are distiD_ct. and the semantic-we can d aspect. nal. and hence it is difficult to separate mentally the features from their meaning. Yet. This may sound far-fetched. we know these syllables only in terms of their meaning. in this sense. 'Ii to the meaning of its impact on om . because the meaning of the features is observed at the same spot where the features are situated. accordingly. For here the separation of the two is wi~e. All meaning tends to be from ourselves. or to use a stick for feeling our way. But as we learn to use a probe. To identify a physiognomy would then amount to relying on our awareness of its features for attending to their joint meaning. that when shock syllables arouse an apprehension in us. of its effect on the things to which it. since we may know a physiognomy without being able to specify its particulars. We could say. without our being able to identify the syllables whicharouse it. This is how an interpretative effort transposes meaningless feelings iJ ones. and places these at some di: original feeling. This will represent its on Since tacit knowing establishes a : tion between two terms. and that is in fact for using the terms "proximal" anc scribe the first and second terms of From the three aspects of tacit have defined so far-the functiona. Anyone usmg a probe for the first time will feel its impact against his fingers and palm. therefore. We become aware ( our hand in terms of their meanim I tip of the probe or stick to which '" This is so also when we use a tool. in fact. We are aware of these inside our body in terms of the posi and motion of an object. we may take the example of the use of a probe to explore a cavern. efforts which we themselves. an~ we Can also observe here the process by w~Ich this separation gradually takes place. and we can say. To see more clearly the separation of a meaning from that which has this meaning.

But as we learn to use e a stick for feeling our way. we know these erms of their meaning. TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING when shock syllables arouse an S. Weare attending to the meaning of its impact on our hands in terms ?f its effect on the things to which we are applying It. It is their our attention is directed. From the three aspects of tacit knowing that I have defined so far-the functional. without our being able to idenwhich arouse it. and the semantic-we can deduce a fourth aspect.. size.npact on our hand is transformed ts point touching the objects we tis is how an interpretative effort transposes meaningless feelings into meaningful ones. we may identify it with the understanding of the comprehensive entity which these two terms jointly constitute. This will represent its ontological aspect Since tacit knowing establishes a meaningful relation between two terms. we may take the . Thus the proximal term represents the particulars of this entity. We may call this the semantic aspect of tacit knowing. To identify a physiogamount to relying on our awareres for attending to their joint ly sound far-fetched. Physiologists long ago established that the way we see an object is determined by our awareness of certain efforts inside our body. that a characteristic ie meaning of its features. 1 :I 12 13 . because the atures is observed at the same spot .meaning las this meaning. early the separation of a. All meaning tends to be displaced away from ourselves. our . that we comprehend the entity by relying on our awareness of its particulars for attending to their joint meaning. id man feels his way by tapping here the separation of the two is _also observe here the process by 'ion gradually takes place. which 'e do say when a physiognomy exar mood. efforts which we cannot feel in themselves.C. and that is in fact my justification for using the terms "proximal" and "distal" to describe the first and second terms of tacit knowing. which tens us what tacit knowing is a knowledge of. shape. We are aware of these things going on inside our body in terms of the position.e of a probe to explore a cavern. This is so also when we use a tool. It is in aning that they enter into the apto which we are attending from t in this sense. and we can say. and motion of an object. and hence it is diffimentally the features from their fact remains that the two are dislay know a physiognomy without cify its particulars. to which weare attending. accordingly. This analysis can be applied with interesting results to the case of visual perception. We become aware of the feelings in our hand in terms of their meaning located at the tip of the probe or stick to which we are attending. and places these at some distance from the original feeling. Anyone the first time will feel its impact and palm. are situated. the phenomenal.

We become aware of our operation of it only in the silencing of a noise. to extend the scope I include neural traces in the co system. therefore. which we have found to be present to some extent in all tacit knowing. the subject responded by increasing the frequency of the twitches and thus silencing the noise much of the time. 111is view. whether in cal. by being hardly noticeable in themselves previous to their transposition. unfelt by the subject-but observable externally by a million-fold amplification of their action currents-were followed by the cessation of an unpleasant noise. like the use of probes and the feats of subcept learning which. Hefferline and collaborators have observed that when spontaneous muscular twitches. that it is an instance of the transposition of feelings which we found in the use of probes and in the process of subception. I: principle that wherever some proo rise to consciousness in us. This experimental result seems closely analogous to the process by which we become aware of subliminal processes inside our body in the perception of objects outside. or any other state of consci junction with neural processes. Moreodo not originally sense the in themselves now appears irrelevar therefore. our t process will make sense of it in te to which we are attending." Tacit knowing is seen to operate here on an internal action that we are quite incapable of controlling or even feeling in itself. ~ppear. I said that by eluc bodily processes participate in will throw light on the bodily r including man's highest creatix show this now. The transposition of bodily experiences into the perception of things outside may now. But we have r projection of this very kind is p stances of tacit knowing. An answer to this=or at least part of an answer to it-is to be found in experiments extending subception to subliminal stimuli.THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWI!' In other words we are attending from these internal processes to the qualities of things outside. can be Iaborion: Modern philosophers have ~ tion does not involve projectioi previously aware of the internal are supposed to have projected: things perceived. This would place events 'brain on the same footing as the operated by Hefferline's subject This brings us to the point when I first mentioned perceptic tacit knowing. of perception. These qualities are what those internal processes mean to. But it may be said that the feelings transposed by perception differ from those transposed by the use of tools or probes. us. 15 14 . In all our waking moments * Such a hypothesis does not ex sights. Our body is the ultimate in: external knowledge. is borne out bv the fact that the capacity to see external objects must be acquired. as an instance of the transposition iof meaning away from us.

arise in conjunction with neural processes. It merely applies the principle that wherever some process in our body gives rise to consciousness in us. including man's highest creative powers. Modern philosophers have argued that perception does not involve projection. our tacit knowing of the process will make sense of it in terms of an experience to which we are attending. Hefferline and collaborators iat when spontaneous muscular 'y the subject-but observable exion-fold amplification of their ac:e followed by the cessation of an the subject responded by increasof the twitches and thus silencing Ethe time. therefore. by a process of learning which can be laborious. erception. is : fact that the capacity to see exust be acquired. whether intellectual or practical. instance of the transposition of m us. This would place events going on inside our brain on the same footing as the subliminal twitches operated by Hefferline's subjects.: TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING are attending from these internal [ualities of things outside. since we ate not previously aware of the internal processes which we are supposed to have projected into the qualities of things perceived. We may venture. I said that by elucidating the way our bodily processes participate in our perceptions we will throw light on the bodily roots of all thought." This brings us to the point at which I hinted when I first mentioned perception as an instance of tacit knowing. the fact that we do not originally sense the internal processes in themselves now appears irrelevant. Moreover.subliminal processes inside our eption of objects outside. which we have found to be xtent in all tacit knowing. In all our waking moments we are relying on * Such a hypothesis does not explain how perceived sights. 15 14 . by being hardly noticeable in us to their transposition. that it is an instance of of feelinzs which we found in the b· 1 in the process of subception. These those internal processes mean to ion of bodily experiences into the ings·outside may now appear." Tacit knowing is seen In an internal action that we are E controlling or even feeling in itaware of our operation of it only f a noise. like the use of probes and the feats of subception. to extend the scope of tacit knowing to include neural traces in the cortex of the nervous system. Our body is the ultimate instrument of all our external knowledge. or any other state of consciousness. This experimental result logous to the process by which we : . But we have now established that projection of this very kind is present in various instances of tacit knowing. An ant least part of an answer to it-is :xperiments extending subception nuli. s. Let me show this now. lid that the feelings transposed by rom those transposed by the use .

The identification of tacit kno ing involves a shift of emphasis of tacit knowing. these things change their appearance. The full range of this generalization can only be hinted at here. as Samuel Butler has said. I am referring particularly to Dilthey? and Lipps. or empathy." Dilthey taught that the mind of a person can be understood only by reliving its workings. Our own body is the only thing in the world which we normally never experience as an object. I think that described here a striking form ( applied to the understanding of of art. We had envis. We meet with another indic functions of indwelling when we moral teachings described as tl To interiorize is to identify ourse ings in question. just as we feel our own body in terms of the things outside to which we are attending from our body. This establishes the· our moral acts and judgments. To rely on ~ standing nature is to interiorize it ing from the theory to things se are aware of the theory. But our awareness of our body for attending to things outside it suggests a wider generalization of the feeling we have of our body. Indications of its scope may be seen by recalling that. we incorporate it in our body-or extend our body to include it-so that we come to dwell in it.'Nowrn our awareness of contacts of our body with things outside for attending to these things. by making the proximal term of a tacit moral kn in practice. 16 17 . TIley appear to us now in terms of the entities to which we are attending from them. but experience always in terms of the world to which we are attending from our body. Whenever we use certain things for attending from them to other things. I have described how we learn to feel the end of a tool or a probe hitting things outside. and Lipps represented aesthetic entering into a work of art and t mind of its creator. and not a thing outside. In this sense we can say that when we make a thing function as the proximal term of tacit knowing. We may regard this as the transformation of the tool or probe into a sentient extension of our body. is the proper means of knowing man and the humanities. German thinkers postulated that indwelling. It is by making this intelligent use of our body that we feel it to be our body. and that they were right could be achieved only by indwe sis of tacit knowing shows that in asserting that this sharply di manities from the natural scier derived from the structure of tac more precisely defined act than underlies all observations inclu scribed previously as indw~l1ing. at the turn of the last century. AI kind of indwelling to logically practice of science. in the way in which we always use our own body.THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT l. while tht of the spectacle that it serves to e mathematical theory can be learr ing its application: its true kno ability to use it.

We may transformation of the tool or nt extension of our body. I think that Dilthey and Lipps described here a striking form of tacit knowing as applied to the understanding of man and of works of art. and that they were right in saying that this could be achieved only by indwelling. and are aware of the theory.imal term of tacit knowing. we ._r _ _ _ _ __ _ . these things change their )pear to us now in terms of the ! are attending from them. by making them function as the proximal term of a tacit moral knowledge.«- : . just iody in terms of the things out'e attending from our body. or emmeans of knowing man and the eferring particularly to Dilthey' taught that the mind of a per. 16 and Lipps represented aesthetic appreciation as an entering into a work of art and thus dwelling in the mind of its creator. This establishes the tacit framework for our moral acts and judgments. while thus using it.-- - . as applied in practice. and it underlies all observations. is a far more precisely defined act than is empathy. The identification of tacit knowing with indwelling involves a shift of emphasis in our conception of tacit knowing. To interiorize is to identify ourselves with the teachings in question.::-. We meet with another indication of the wide functions of indwelling when we find acceptance to moral teachings described as their interiorization. Indwelling. and not ow we learn to feel the end of itting things outside. In lY that when we make a thing . 'ACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING itacts of OUrbody with things to these things. - . in the way in which we body. including all those described previously as indwelling. Our own body the world which we normally n object.' ~'--~~ ~~~. And we can trace this kind of indwelling to logically similar acts in the practice of science.r body-or extend our body to we come to dwell in it. ad only by reliving its workings. For we are attending from the theory to things seen in its light.stulated that indwelling. as :aid. . but experience always Id to which we are attending by making this intelligent use feel it to be our body. We had envisaged tacit knowing 17 . in terms of the spectacle that it serves to explain.:::_:>:::'---:::-:.. But our awareness of our to things outside it suggests a of the feeling we have of our use certain things for attending things. ~ ~- ~ - _. But my analysis of tacit knowing shows that they were mistaken in asserting that this sharply distinguished the humanities from the natural sciences. To rely on a theory for understanding nature is to interiorize it. this generalization can only be cations of its scope may be seen t the turn of the last century.-: : . This is why mathematical theory can be learned only by practicing its application: its true knowledge lies in our ability to use it. as derived from the structure of tacit knowing.

. and soon the word will sound hollow and eventually lose its meaning. Such cases are well known.' '. ing. and to the sound you make. •-- - . will improve 'it when f The meticulous dismembering kill its appreciation. - -- •• .now becomes a means of making certain things function as the proximal terms of tacit knowing. . our conception of the entity is destroyed. serves as a g quent integration and thus secure and more accurate mear But the damage done by the ticulars may be irremediable . Take the case of a learn to use it skillfully.. Speak the belief that. or philosophy. fingers used again with his mi features of a physiognomy and tern glanced at once more fror come to life and recover thei comprehensive relationship. Of course. It brings home to us that it is not by looking at things. We can make ourselves lose sight ofa pattern or physiognomy by examining its several parts under sufficient magnification. The word uttered again in its proper context.L • . . a pianist can temporarily paralyze his movement. it goes far beyonc integration..' • • • . can also s' rnueh=deeper understanding of the detailing of particulars. so that instead of observing them in themselves. wl destroy meaning.I' may obscure beyond recall a ~ literature. unbridled lucidity can destroy our understanding of complex matters. but by dwelling in them. Admittedly. withou how it works. and recognized the way we attend from the first to the second. thus achieving an integration of particulars to a coherent entity to which we are attending. Scrutinize closely the particulars of a comprehensive entity and their meaning is effaced. By concentrating attention on his fingers.:i·'.. the pianist's . Motion studies wl a skill. attending carefully to the motion of your tongue and lips.. Where sr bon is feasible. Repeat a word several times. Since we were not attending to the particulars in themselves. we could not identify them: but if we now regard the integration of particulars as an interiorization. It . the destruction can be made good by interiorizing the particulars once more. tacit reintegration ( the only way to recover their me focusing our attention on then analysis of a comprehensive enti acted in many cases by explicitly between its particulars. we may be aware of them in their bearing on the comprehensive entity which they constitute. the proximal and the distal.' .THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOW: in the first place as a way to know more than we can tell.. since particulars their knowledge offers a true C( is fundamentally mistaken. We can see now how an. that we understand their joint meaning. . We identified the two terms of tacit know. But the engineer's its construction and operation g 18 19 : ~.-- • • • '. i '. it takes on a more positive character.. But it is important to not never brings back the original prove on it.

One can learn to use it skillfully.TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING a way to know more than we ed the two terms of tacit knowd the distal. 19 . the detailing of particulars. serves as a guide to their subsequent integration and thus establishes a more secure and more accurate meaning of them . But the engineer's understanding of its construction and operation goes much deeper. We can make oura pattern or physiognomy by parts under sufficient magnifi. thus tion of particulars to a coherent re attending. Since we were not ticulars in themselves. The word proper context. a pianist can tempoaovement. ~peaking more generally!.can be made good by ticulars once more. The meticulous dismembering of a text. but by dwelling in them. Motion studies. attending careofyour tongue and lips. and soon the word will sound !y lose its meaning. Where such explicit integration is feasible. Scmiarticulars of a comprehensive . how an unbridled lucidity can riding of complex matters. But the damage done by the specification of particulars may be irremediable. The destructive analysis of a comprehensive entity can be counteracted in many cases by explicitly stating the relation between its particulars. SInce particulars are more tangible. without knowing exactly how it works.I the belief that. which tend to paralyze a skill. it goes far beyond the range of tacit integration. we could ut if we now regard the integras an interiorization. Meticulous detailing may obscure beyond recall a subject like history. Take the case of a machine. Of course. But it is important to note that this recovery never brings back the original meaning. they all come to life and recover their meaning and their comprehensive relationship. our conception estroyed. destroyed by focusing our attention on them. It now becomes a means hings function as the proximal ng. so that instead of observing we may be aware of them in e comprehensive entity which rings home to us that it is not . will improve it when followed by practice. the pianist's 18 fingers used again with his mind On his music. that joint meaning. and to . which can kill its appreciation.ning is effaced. In these cases. tacit reintegration of particulars is not the only way to recover their meaning. their knowledge offers a true conception of things is fundamentally mistaken. By concenhis fingers. can also supply material for a much deeper understanding of it. literatu:e" or phi~osophy. Such cases are wen rd several times. and recognized the 1 the first to the second. it takes on acter. the features of a physiognomy and the details of a pattern glanced at once more from a distance. which by itself would destroy meaning. It may improve on it.struction .

the frog. then the ideal of eliminating all persona] elements. must be first identified informally by tacit Imowing. indeed. of knowledge would. TIle skill of a driver cannot be replaced by a thorough schooling in the theory of the motorcar. We are approaching here a crucial question.THE TACIT DIMENSION TACITKNOWTh We possess a practical knowledge of our own body. and. as a scientist sees it in covery. for example. Any falling short of this ideal is accepted only as a temporary imperfection. It within science itself: the exper problem. It is a commonplace that all r from a problem. in order that we may formalize the relations that constitute a comprehensive entity.e. . which we must aim at eliminating. but the physiologist's theoretical knowledge of it is far more revealing. i. the meaning of a mathematical theory of the frog lies in its continued bearing on this stilI Moreover. But how can 1 any problem. objective knowledge. aim at the destruction of all knowledge. this entity. But suppose that tacit thought forms an indispensable part of all knowledge. Let me finish this lee presenting you with a most strik: ple of an experience that cannot sented by any exact theory. But I must not rest my case 0 argument. in general. The formal rules of prosody may deepen our understanding of so delicate a thing as a poem. The declared aim of modern science is to establish a strictly detached. the act of bringing E ory to bear on its subject is itsel of the kind we have recognized i: tative word for designating its 0 seen also that a true knowledge established only after it has be extensively used to interpret eXI a mathematical theory can be ( relying on prior tacit knowing an theory only within an act of tal consists in our attending from i established experience on which ideal of a--comprehensive matherr perience which would eliminate ~ proved to be self-contradictory sound. For. the knowledge I have of my own body differs altogether from the knowledge of its physiology. the relations that constitute a frog. it can be a problem is original. in effect. But my examples show clearly that. I think I can show that the process of forma1izing all knowledge to the exclusion of any tacit knowing is self-defeating. The ideal of exact science would turn out to be fundamentally misleading and possibly a source of devastating fallacies.. without any knowledge of its rules. It is to have an intimatioi of hitherto not comprehended par lern is good if this intimation is tr 20 !rzI--~ . let alone a good and For to sec a problem is to sec hidden. and the rules of rhyming and prosody do not tell me what a poem told me. ) / -. an explicit integration cannot replace its tacit counterpart. Research can be the problem is good.

It is a commonplace that all research must start from a problem. then the ideal of eliminatents of knowledge would. Let me finish this lecture. as a scientist sees it in his pursuit of discovery.·CIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING 1 knowledge of our own body. any problem. And we have seen also that a true knowledge of a theory can be established only after it has been interiorized and extensively used to interpret experience. in general. and and prosody do not tell me without arty knowledge of its lOW 5 here a crucial question. It is to have an intimation of the coherence of hitherto not comprehended particulars.~ sound. But how can one see a problem. : thought forms an indispensaIge. it can be original only if the problem is original. indeed.3 perience which would eliminate all tacit knowing is ~ proved to be self-contradictory and logically un. an nnot replace its tacit counterriver cannot be replaced by a 1 the theory of the motorcar. and. It is an experience within science itself: the experience of seeing a problem. by presenting you with a most striking concrete example of an experience that cannot possibly be represented by any exact theory. Therefore: a mathematical theory can be constructed only by relying on prior tacit knowing and can function as a theory only within an act of tacit knowing. ThUSth~ Ideal of a comprehensive mathematical theory of ex. The lern science is to establish a ective knowledge. of my own body differs altovledge of its physiology. theoretical knowledge of it is re formal rules of prosody may ding of so delicate a thing as clearly that. therefore. devas:hat the process of formalizing exclusion of any tacit knowing n order that we may formalize nstitute a comprehensive ene relations that constitute a ie frog. which consists in our attending from it to the reviously established experience on which it bears. let alone a good and original problem? For to see a problem is to see something that is hidden. must be first identified owing. Moreover. Research can be successful only if the problem is good. in ruction of all knowledge. would turn out to be Iundand possibly a source of. The . But I must not rest my case on such an abstract argument. the meant theory of the frog lies in its 2{) continued bearing on this still tacitly known frog. the act of bringing a mathematical theory to bear on its subject is itself a tacit integration of the kind we have recognized in the use of a denotative word for designating its object. The problem is good if this intimation is true. Any falling accepted only as a temporary we muse aim at eliminating. it is original if r21~ I\~:J .

THE TACIT DIM:ENSION TACIT xxown- no one else can see the possibilities of the comprehension that we are anticipating. The kind of tacit knowledge that solves the paradox of the Meno consi~n . And the Meno also shows. we can know things. Since we have no explicit kno' known things. during one hunc before Newton proved the poi centric theory was not merely a computing the paths of planets. But : problem. there can also be tion of a scientific truth. but to see something of which the rest of humanity cannot have even an inkling.e. All this is a commonplace. It appears.. that we cannot tell. we can 1 hidden implications of a scient fed confident that they will pn sure of this. but neither has any other solution been offered for avoiding the contradiction. for either you know what you are looking for. while all the time it could be shown that to do this was either meaningless or impossible. we commi lief in all these as yet undisclosed thinkable. and that furthermoi the discovery as true. We have here the classical case of Poe's Purloined Letter. and feel sure that it is thing hidden behind it. we can have a tacit foreknow: covered things.he intimation of SOmer thing hidden. Yet Plato has pointed out this contradiction in the Meno. when a discovery solves a fraught with further intimation nate range. i. He says that to search for the solution of a problem is an absurdity. This is indeed knowledge the Copernicans rm affirm when they passionately heavy pressure. without noticing the clash of self-contradiction entailed in it. But how can we Ie fruitfulness? Can we recognize true by appreciating the wealt covered consequences? This wou sensical. and hence o1erlooked by all. or you do not know what you are looking for. But it makes sen. therefore. and discoveries can be made by solving them. consequences. then. humanity has progressed through the efforts of people solving difficult problems. that to know true is to know more than we hence. capable of being clearly stated. then we cannot know a problem or look for its solution. for DNO thousand years and more. of the momentous document lying casually in front of everybody. and important things. that if problems nevertheless exist. So we are faced with the fact that. because in contemp] \ \22J " ~) 23 . and then there is no problem. For the Meno shows conclusively that if all knowledge is explicit. This explanation has hardly ever been accepted. We are often tc tific discoveries are marked by tl this is true. we take it for granted. The solution which Plato offered for this paradox was that all discovery is a remembering of past lives. and then you cannot expect to find anything. which we may exists another important man mental powers. if we had to know exp undiscovered. To see a problem that will lead to a great discovery is not just to see something hidden.

there can also be no explicit justification of a scientific truth.e. capable of being clearly [lot know a problem or look for ie Meno also shows. because in contemplating the discovery 23 . for either you looking for. consequences. knowledge that solves the paraflsirr=in~e intimation of some- thing hidden.. But it makes sense if we admit that we can have a tacit foreknowledge of yet undiscovered things. It appears. There exists another important manifestation of these mental powers.. We feel SUIeof this. vertheless exist. humanthrough the efforts of people ilems. but was really true. during one hundred and forty years before Newton proved the point. We are often told that great scientific discoveries are marked by their fruitfulness. it is itself fraught with further intimations of an indeterminate range. then. against heavy pressure. This is indeed the kind of foreknowledge the Copernicans must have meant to affirm when they passionately maintained. and discoveries ving them. therefore. perhaps as yet unthinkable. ~s. e clash of self-contradiction eno has pointed out this contradicHe says that to search fat the m is an absurdity. if we had to know explicitly what was yet undiscovered.. and that furthermore. and this is true.TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOWING the possibilities of the compre: anticipating.. i. we commit ourselves to a belief in all these as yet undisclosed. and then there is no not know what you are looking mnot expect to find anything. But how can we recognize truth by its fruitfulness? Can we recognize that a statement is true by appreciating the wealth of its yet undiscovered consequences? This would of course be nonsensical. and feel confident that they will prove right. but ther solution been offered for iiction. Since we have no explicit knowledge Of these unknown things. I Gv \ "-. that the heliocentric theory was not merely a convenient way of computing the paths of planets."/ ) \ . So we are faced with the iousand years and more. and hence o~erlooked to shows conclusively that if all it. ch PIato offered for this paradox y is a remembering of past lives. when we accept the discovery as true. we can be aware also of the hidden implications of a scientific discovery. s hardly ever been accepted. But as we can know a problem. we take it for granted. To see a problem great discovery is not just to see but to see something of which :y cannot have even an inkling. which we may yet discover. while all the time it could J this was either meaningless or e here the classicalcase of Poe's the momentous document lying everybody.that we cannot tell. we can know things. and feel Sure that it is pointing to something hidden behind it. onplace. when a discovery solves a problem. that to know that a statement is true is to know more than we can tell and that hence.

Such indeterminate commitments are necessarily involved in any act of knowing based on indwelling.THE TACIT DIMENSION TACIT KNown we are looking at it not only in itself but. we are forced to conclude that all knowledge is of the same kind as the knowledge of a problem. The anticipation of discovery. cannot formalize "the act 0 \". It is persi involving the personality of hirr also in the sense of being. The pursuit of discovery is conducted from the start in these terms.p'O. I. We have here reached om main conclusions. 25 . ideal of 0 hjccti\ the task for whicli the them. The difFicull:" alternntive to it:. guided by his sense of approachirig its solution. \ he is seeking to apprehend. we may not be able to specify. It claims to have made contact with reality: a reality which. may yet reveal itself to future eyes in an indefinite range of unexpected manifestations. more significantly. To attempt this is to ex lucidity which destroys its subj the failure: of the positivist 1110' losophy of science.l1 cannot express your comrnii lMly. We must conclude that o the paradigmatic case of scier which all the faculties that are i and holding scientific knowledge is the knowledge of an approac To hold such knowledge is mitted to the conviction that there to be discovered. therefore. Tacit knowing is shown to account (1) for a valid knowledge of a problem. This is in fact our result. as a clue to a reality of which it is a mani"festation. (2) for the scientist's capacity to pursue it. This kind of knowing solves the paradox of the Meno by making it possible for us to know something so indeterminate as a problem or a hunch. 'may turn out to be a delusion. and the discovery which terminates and satisfies this pursuit is still sustained by the same vision. as . all the time we are guided by sensing the presence of a hidden realitytoward which our clues are pointing. there is no trace in it of self-it coverer is filled with a compellir bility for the pursuit of a hi i demands his services for revea I \ knowing exercises a personal ju i. and (3) for a valid anticipation of the yet indeterminate implications of the discovery arrived at in the end. should prepare us. and relies further on our attending from these unspecifiable particulars to a comprehensive entity connecting them in a way we cannot define. evidence to an external reality. but when the use of this faculty turns out to be an indispensable element of all knowing. For such an act relies on interiorizing particulars to which we are not attending and which. being real. seek for strictly impersonal enter positivistic philosophies of scient to do for the past eighty years 0 pursuit of science as a reasonable terprise is to share the kind 0: which scientists enter bv undertal )t-{You.

:. like discovery itself.it of discovery is conducted ese terms. s . and the disrtes and satisfies this pursuit is same vision. but there is no trace in it of self-indulgence. and also in the sense of being. I 1\ 25 . wn to account (1) for a valid lem. This is indeed the task for which the theory of tacit knowing should prepare us. The difficulty is to find a stable alternative to its ideal of objectivity. solitary. more siga reality of which it is a mani. This kind of knowing [ the Meno by making it possiornething so indeterminate as a . in which all the faculties that are necessary for finding and holding scientific knowledge are fully developed. and relies further )m~these unspecifiable particusive entity connecting them in [efine. To attempt this is to exercise the kind of lucidity which destroys its subject matter. all the time we are e presence of a hidden reality. therefore. being itself to future eyes in an inxpected manifestations.pursuit of science as a reasonable and successful enterprise is to share the kind of commitments on which scientists enter by undertaking this enterprise.eality: a reality which. for '(~ you cannot express your commitment non-committally. It claims to have . It is personal. which ) demands his services for revealing it. ~~ou cannot formalize the act of commitment. but when the use of this facan indispensable element of all ced to conclude that all knowl~ kind as the knowledge of a result. is the knowledge of an approaching discovery. as positivistic philosophies of science have been trying to do for the past eighty years or so. e commitments are necessarily f knowing based on indwelling. as a rule. (2) for the scientist's cauided by his sense of approach(3) for a valid anticipation of e implications of the discovery rot 1. The dis\ coverer is fined with a compelling sense of responsibility for the pursuit of a hidden truth. an aspect of which he is seeking to apprehend. \ The anticipation of discovery. To hold such knowledge is an act deeply committed to the conviction that there is something there to be discovered. :ached our main conclusions. His act of \ knowing exercises a personal judgment in relating I evidence to an external reality. Hence the failure of the positivist movement in the philosophy of science. To accept the . ues are pointing. We must conclude that . ·8 the paradigmatic case of scientific knowledge.on interiorizing particulars to ttending and which. to specify. '·:fnay tum out to be a delusion.:.""CIT DIMENSION TACIT KNOViTING only in itself but. But it is futile to seek for strictly impersonal criteria of its validity. in the sense of involving the personality of him who holds it.

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