Michael Polanyi

Michael Polanyi FRS[1] (/poʊˈlænji/; Hungarian: Pollacsek Mihály; 11 March 1891 – 22 February 1976) was a Hungarian-British polymath, who made important theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, economics, and philosophy. He argued that positivism supplies a false account of knowing, which if taken seriously undermines humanity's highest achievements.

His wide-ranging research in physical science included chemical kinetics, x-ray diffraction, and adsorption of gases. He pioneered the theory of fibre diffraction analysis in 1921, and the dislocation theory of plastic deformation of ductile metals and other materials in 1934. He emigrated to Germany, in 1926 becoming a chemistry professor at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and then in 1933 to England, becoming first a chemistry professor, and then a social sciences professor at the University of Manchester. Two of his pupils and his son won Nobel Prizes in Chemistry. In 1944 Polanyi was elected to the Royal Society.

The contributions which Polanyi made to the social sciences, for example his application of the concept of a polycentric spontaneous order to intellectual inquiry, were developed in the context of his opposition to central planning.

Michael Polanyi

Michael Polanyi
Polanyi in England, 1933
Polányi Mihály

11 March 1891
Died22 February 1976 (aged 84)
Northampton, England
EducationGraduated in medicine, 1913; PhD in physical chemistry, 1919
Alma materEötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Technische Hochschule, Karlsruhe
University of Budapest
OccupationProfessor of physical chemistry, professor of social studies
EmployerKaiser Wilhelm Institute
University of Manchester
Merton College, Oxford
Known forContributions to the theory of knowledge and philosophy of science (identification of the "structure of tacit knowing"), contributions to physical science (potential adsorption theory)
Spouse(s)Magda Elizabeth Kemeny
ChildrenJohn Charles Polanyi, George Polanyi
Parent(s)Michael and Cecilia Pollacsek
RelativesKarl Polanyi (brother); Kari Polanyi Levitt (niece)


Early life

Polanyi, born Pollacsek Mihály in Budapest, was the fifth child of Mihály and Cecília Pollacsek (born as Cecília Wohl), secular Jews from Ungvár (then in Hungary but now in Ukraine) and Wilno, then Russian Empire, respectively. His father's family were entrepreneurs, while his mother's father  – Osher Leyzerovich Vol (1833  – after 1906)  – was the senior teacher of Jewish history at the Vilna rabbinic seminary, from which he had graduated as a rabbi[2][3][4]. The family moved to Budapest and Magyarized their surname to Polányi. His father built much of the Hungarian railway system, but lost most of his fortune in 1899 when bad weather caused a railway building project to go over budget. He died in 1905. Cecília Polányi established a salon that was well known among Budapest's intellectuals, and which continued until her death in 1939. His older brother was Karl Polanyi, the political economist and anthropologist, and his niece was Eva Zeisel, a world-renowned ceramist.[5]


In 1909, after leaving his teacher-training secondary school (Mintagymnasium), Polanyi studied to be a physician, obtaining his medical diploma in 1914. He was an active member of the Galilei Society. With the support of Ignác Pfeifer, professor of chemistry at the József Technical University of Budapest, he obtained a scholarship to study chemistry at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe, Germany. In the First World War, he served in the Austro-Hungarian army as a medical officer, and was sent to the Serbian front. While on sick-leave in 1916, he wrote a PhD thesis on adsorption. His research, which was encouraged by Albert Einstein, was supervised by Gusztáv Buchböck, and in 1919 the University of Budapest awarded him a doctorate.


In October 1918, Mihály Károlyi established the Hungarian Democratic Republic, and Polanyi became Secretary to the Minister of Health. When the Communists seized power in March 1919, he returned to medicine. When the Hungarian Soviet Republic was overthrown, Polanyi emigrated to Karlsruhe in Germany, and was invited by Fritz Haber to join the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Faserstoffchemie in Berlin. In 1923 he converted to Christianity, and in a Roman Catholic ceremony married Magda Elizabeth Kemeny.[6] In 1926 he became the professorial head of department of the Institut für Physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie. In 1929, Magda gave birth to their son John, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1986. Their other son, George Polanyi, who predeceased him, became a well-known economist.

His experience of runaway inflation and high unemployment in Weimar Germany led Polanyi to become interested in economics. With the coming to power in 1933 of the Nazi party, he accepted a chair in physical chemistry at the University of Manchester. Two of his pupils, Eugene Wigner and Melvin Calvin went on to win a Nobel Prize. Because of his increasing interest in the social sciences, Manchester University created a new chair in Social Science (1948–58) for him.

In 1944 Polanyi was elected a member of the Royal Society,[1] and on his retirement from the University of Manchester in 1958 he was elected a senior research fellow at Merton College, Oxford. In 1962 he was elected a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[7]


Physical chemistry

Polanyi's scientific interests were extremely diverse, including work in chemical kinetics, x-ray diffraction, and the adsorption of gases at solid surfaces. He is also well known for his potential adsorption theory, which was disputed for quite some time. In 1921, he laid the mathematical foundation of fibre diffraction analysis. In 1934, Polanyi, at about the same time as G. I. Taylor and Egon Orowan, realised that the plastic deformation of ductile materials could be explained in terms of the theory of dislocations developed by Vito Volterra in 1905. The insight was critical in developing the field of solid mechanics.

Freedom and community

In 1936, as a consequence of an invitation to give lectures for the Ministry of Heavy Industry in the USSR, Polanyi met Bukharin, who told him that in socialist societies all scientific research is directed to accord with the needs of the latest Five Year Plan. Polanyi noted what had happened to the study of genetics in the Soviet Union once the doctrines of Trofim Lysenko had gained the backing of the State. Demands in Britain, for example by the Marxist John Desmond Bernal, for centrally planned scientific research led Polanyi to defend the claim that science requires free debate. Together with John Baker, he founded the influential Society for Freedom in Science.

In a series of articles, re-published in The Contempt of Freedom (1940) and The Logic of Liberty (1951), Polanyi claimed that co-operation amongst scientists is analogous to the way agents co-ordinate themselves within a free market. Just as consumers in a free market determine the value of products, science is a spontaneous order that arises as a consequence of open debate amongst specialists. Science (contrary to the claims of Bukharin) flourishes when scientists have the liberty to pursue truth as an end in itself:

[S]cientists, freely making their own choice of problems and pursuing them in the light of their own personal judgment, are in fact co-operating as members of a closely knit organization.

Such self-co-ordination of independent initiatives leads to a joint result which is unpremeditated by any of those who bring it about.

Any attempt to organize the group ... under a single authority would eliminate their independent initiatives, and thus reduce their joint effectiveness to that of the single person directing them from the centre. It would, in effect, paralyse their co-operation.

He derived the phrase spontaneous order from Gestalt psychology, and it was adopted by the classical liberal economist Friederich Hayek, although the concept can be traced back to at least Adam Smith. Polanyi (unlike Hayek) argued that there are higher and lower forms of spontaneous order, and he asserted that defending scientific inquiry on utilitarian or sceptical grounds undermined the practice of science. He extends this into a general claim about free societies. Polanyi defends a free society not on the negative grounds that we ought to respect "private liberties", but on the positive grounds that "public liberties" facilitate our pursuit of objective ideals.

According to Polanyi, a free society that strives to be value-neutral undermines its own justification. But it is not enough for the members of a free society to believe that ideals such as truth, justice, and beauty, are objective, they also have to accept that they transcend our ability to wholly capture them. The objectivity of values must be combined with acceptance that all knowing is fallible.

In Full Employment and Free Trade (1948) Polanyi analyses the way money circulates around an economy, and in a monetarist analysis that, according to Paul Craig Roberts, was thirty years ahead of its time, he argues that a free market economy should not be left to be wholly self-adjusting. A central bank should attempt to moderate economic booms/busts via a strict/loose monetary policy.

All knowing is personal

In his book Science, Faith and Society (1946), Polanyi set out his opposition to a positivist account of science, noting that it ignores the role personal commitments play in the practice of science. Polanyi was invited to give the prestigious Gifford Lectures in 1951–52 at Aberdeen. A revised version of his lectures were later published as Personal Knowledge (1958). In this book Polanyi claims that all knowledge claims (including those that derive from rules) rely on personal judgements.[8] He denies that a scientific method can yield truth mechanically. All knowing, no matter how formalised, relies upon commitments. Polanyi argued that the assumptions that underlie critical philosophy are not only false, they undermine the commitments that motivate our highest achievements. He advocates a fiduciary post-critical approach, in which we recognise that we believe more than we can prove, and know more than we can say. The literary critic Rita Felski has named Polanyi as an important precursor to the project of postcritique within literary studies.[9]

A knower does not stand apart from the universe, but participates personally within it. Our intellectual skills are driven by passionate commitments that motivate discovery and validation. According to Polanyi, a great scientist not only identifies patterns, but also chooses significant questions likely to lead to a successful resolution. Innovators risk their reputation by committing to a hypothesis. Polanyi cites the example of Copernicus, who declared that the Earth revolves around the Sun. He claims that Copernicus arrived at the Earth's true relation to the Sun not as a consequence of following a method, but via "the greater intellectual satisfaction he derived from the celestial panorama as seen from the Sun instead of the Earth."[10] His writings on the practice of science influenced Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend.

Polanyi rejected the claim by British Empiricists that experience can be reduced into sense data, but he also rejects the notion that "indwelling" within (sometimes incompatible) interpretative frameworks traps us within them. Our tacit awareness connects us, albeit fallibly, with reality. It supplies us with the context within which our articulations have meaning. Contrary to the views of his colleague and friend Alan Turing, whose work at the Victoria University of Manchester prepared the way for the first modern computer, he denied that minds are reducible to collections of rules. His work influenced the critique by Hubert Dreyfus of "First Generation" artificial intelligence.

It was while writing Personal Knowledge that he identified the "structure of tacit knowing". He viewed it as his most important discovery. He claimed that we experience the world by integrating our subsidiary awareness into a focal awareness. In his later work, for example his Terry Lectures, later published as The Tacit Dimension (1966), he distinguishes between the phenomenological, instrumental, semantic, and ontological aspects of tacit knowing, as discussed (but not necessarily identified as such) in his previous writing.

Critique of reductionism

In "Life's irreducible structure" (1968),[11] Polanyi argues that the information contained in the DNA molecule is not reducible to the laws of physics and chemistry. Although a DNA molecule cannot exist without physical properties, these properties are constrained by higher-level ordering principles. In "Transcendence and Self-transcendence" (1970),[12] Polanyi criticises the mechanistic world view that modern science inherited from Galileo.

Polanyi advocates emergence i.e. the claim that there are several levels of reality and of causality. He relies on the assumption that boundary conditions supply degrees of freedom that, instead of being random, are determined by higher-level realities, whose properties are dependent on but distinct from the lower level from which they emerge. An example of a higher-level reality functioning as a downward causal force is consciousness – intentionality – generating meanings – intensionality.

Mind is a higher-level expression of the capacity of living organisms for discrimination. Our pursuit of self-set ideals such as truth and justice transforms our understanding of the world. The reductionistic attempt to reduce higher-level realities into lower-level realities generates what Polanyi calls a moral inversion, in which the higher is rejected with moral passion. Polanyi identifies it as a pathology of the modern mind and traces its origins to a false conception of knowledge; although it is relatively harmless in the formal sciences, that pathology generates nihilism in the humanities. Polanyi considered Marxism an example of moral inversion. The State, on the grounds of an appeal to the logic of history, uses its coercive powers in ways that disregard any appeals to morality.[13]


  • 1932. Atomic Reactions. Williams and Norgate, London.
  • 1940. The Contempt of Freedom. The Russian Experiment and After. Watts & Co., London.
  • 1946. Science, Faith, and Society. Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-226-67290-5. Reprinted by the University of Chicago Press, 1964.
  • 1951. The Logic of Liberty. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-67296-4
  • 1958. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-67288-3
  • 1959. The Study of Man. University of Chicago Press.
  • 1966. The Tacit Dimension. London, Routledge. (University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-67298-4. 2009 reprint)
  • 1969. Knowing and Being. Edited with an introduction by Marjorie Grene. University of Chicago Press and (UK) Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  • 1975 (with Prosch, Harry). Meaning. Univ. of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-67294-8
  • 1997. Society, Economics and Philosophy: Selected Papers of Michael Polanyi. Edited with an introduction by R.T. Allen. New Brunswick NJ: Transaction Publishers. Includes an annotated bibliography of Polanyi's publications.

See also


  1. ^ a b Wigner, E. P.; Hodgkin, R. A. (1977). "Michael Polanyi. 12 March 1891 – 22 February 1976". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 23: 413. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1977.0016.
  2. ^ Detailed genealogical information on the Vol family is available at JewishGen.org (Lithuania database).
  3. ^ Russian Jewish Encyclopedia: Assir Lazarevich (Osher Leyzerovich) Vol: He also wrote for various publications in the Russian and Hebrew languages, translated Talmudic texts, and in early 1900s worked as a state censor of Yiddish publications in Vilna.
  4. ^ "ЕЭБЕ/Воль, Ассир Лазаревич — Викитека". ru.wikisource.org. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Eva Zeisel obituary - Government Online". government-online.net. 15 January 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  6. ^ [Torrance, Thomas F. (2002). "Mihály Polányi and the Christian faith: personal report" (pdf). Polanyiana (1-2), pp. 167-176. He. (Access time: November 22, 2013)]
  7. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter P" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  8. ^ Personal Knowledge, p. 18
  9. ^ Felski, Rita (2015). The Limits of Critique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 150. ISBN ISBN 9780226294032. Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  10. ^ Personal Knowledge p. 3
  11. ^ Michael Polanyi (June 1968). "Life's Irreducible Structure" (PDF). Science. 160 (3834): 1308–12. Bibcode:1968Sci...160.1308P. doi:10.1126/science.160.3834.1308. PMID 5651890.
  12. ^ Michael Polanyi (1970). "Transcendence and Self-transcendence". Soundings. 53 (1): 88–94. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  13. ^ Personal Knowledge, Ch. 7, section 11

Further reading

  • Neidhardt, W. Jim: "Possible Relationships Between Polanyi's Insights and Modern Findings in Psychology, Brain Research, and Theories of Science." JASA 31 (March 1979): 61–62.
  • Thorson, Walter R.: "The Biblical Insights of Michael Polanyi." JASA 33 (September 1981): 129–38.
  • Stines, J. W.: "Time, Chaos Theory and the Thought of Michael Polanyi." JASA 44 (December 1992): 220–27.
  • Gelwick, Richard, 1987. The Way of Discovery: An Introduction to the Thought of Michael Polanyi. Oxford University Press.
  • Allen, R. T., 1991. Polany. London, Claridge Press.
  • Scott, Drusilla, 1995. Everyman Revived: The Common Sense of Michael Polanyi. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-4079-5.
  • Allen, R. T., 1998. Beyond Liberalism: A Study in the Political Thought of F. A. Hayek and Michael Polanyi, Rutgers, NJ, Transaction Publishers.
  • Poirier, Maben W. 2002. A Classified and Partially Annotated Bibliography of Michael Polanyi, the Anglo-Hungarian Philosopher of Science. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press. ISBN 1-55130-212-8.
  • Scott, William Taussig, and Moleski, Martin X., 2005. Michael Polanyi, Scientist and Philosopher. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517433-X.
  • Jacobs, Struan, and Allen, R. T. (eds.), 2005. "Emotion, Reason and Tradition: Essays on the Social, Political and Economic Thought of Michael Polanyi", Guildford, Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-4067-1.
  • Mitchell, Mark, 2006. Michael Polanyi: The Art of Knowing (Library Modern Thinkers Series). Wilmington, Delaware: Intercollegiate Studies Institute. ISBN 1-932236-90-2, ISBN 978-1-932236-90-3.
  • Nye, Mary Jo, 2011. Michael Polanyi and His Generation: Origins of the Social Construction of Science. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-61063-4.
  • Angioni, Giulio, 2011. Fare, dire, sentire: l’identico e il diverso nelle culture, Il Maestrale. Giulio Angioni ISBN 978-88-6429-020-1.
1966 in philosophy

1966 in philosophy

Esther Meek

Esther Lightcap Meek is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Geneva College, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, a Visiting Professor of Apologetics at Redeemer Seminary, and a freelance writer and speaker. She was formerly Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Covenant Theological Seminary, in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the author of Longing to Know (2003), in which she elaborates an epistemology based on the multiperspectivalism and presuppositionalism of John Frame and the tacit knowledge theory of Michael Polanyi.

Evolution and the Humanities

Evolution and the Humanities is a 1987 book by David Holbrook that attacks Darwinian evolution. The book rejects reductionist biology and takes influence from Michael Polanyi and vitalist philosophy.

Eyring equation

The Eyring equation (occasionally also known as Eyring–Polanyi equation) is an equation used in chemical kinetics to describe the variance of the rate of a chemical reaction with temperature. It was developed almost simultaneously in 1935 by Henry Eyring, Meredith Gwynne Evans and Michael Polanyi. This equation follows from the transition state theory (a.k.a. activated-complex theory) and (if one assumes constant enthalpy of activation and constant entropy of activation) is similar to the empirical Arrhenius equation, although the Arrhenius equation is empirical, and the Eyring equation has a statistical mechanical justification.

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society

The Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society (FHI) is a science research institute located at the heart of the academic district of Dahlem, in Berlin, Germany.

The original Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, founded in 1911, was incorporated in the Max Planck Society and simultaneously renamed for its first director, Fritz Haber, in 1953.

The research topics covered throughout the history of the institute include chemical kinetics and reaction dynamics, colloid chemistry, atomic physics, spectroscopy, surface chemistry and surface physics, chemical physics and molecular physics, theoretical chemistry, and materials science.During World War I and World War II, the research of the institute was directed more or less towards Germany's military needs.

To the illustrious past members of the Institute belong Herbert Freundlich, James Franck, Paul Friedlander, Rudolf Ladenburg, Michael Polanyi, Eugene Wigner, Ladislaus Farkas, Hartmut Kallmann, Otto Hahn, Robert Havemann, Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer, Iwan N. Stranski, Ernst Ruska, Max von Laue, Gerhard Borrmann, Rudolf Brill, Kurt Moliere, Jochen Block, Heinz Gerischer, Rolf Hosemann, Kurt Ueberreiter, Alexander Bradshaw, Elmar Zeitler, and Gerhard Ertl.

Nobel Prize laureates affiliated with the institute include Max von Laue (1914), Fritz Haber (1918), James Franck (1925), Otto Hahn (1944), Eugene Wigner (1963), Ernst Ruska (1986), Gerhard Ertl (2007).

Harry Prosch

Harry Prosch (May 4, 1917 – March 11, 2005) was an American philosopher born in Logansport, Indiana.

Imre Bródy

Imre Bródy (1891, Gyula, Hungary–1944, Mühldorf) was a Hungarian physicist who invented in 1930 the krypton-filled fluorescent lamps (also known as the krypton electric bulb)


with fellow-Hungarian inventors Emil Theisz, Ferenc Kőrösy and Tivadar Millner. He developed the technology of the production of krypton bulbs together with Michael Polanyi (in Hungarian Mihály Polányi). He was the nephew of writer Sándor Bródy.

List of philosophers of science

This is a chronological list of philosophers of science. For an alphabetical name-list, see Category:Philosophers of science.

Mary Jo Nye

Mary Jo Nye (born December 5, 1944) is an American historian of science and Horning Professor in the Humanities emerita of the History Department at Oregon State University. She is known for her work on the relationships between scientific discovery and social and political phenomena.

Meredith Gwynne Evans

Meredith Gwynne Evans, FRS (2 December 1904 – 25 December 1952) was a British physical chemist, who made important theoretical contributions in the study of chemical reaction rates and reaction mechanisms. Together with Henry Eyring and Michael Polanyi, Meredith Gwynne Evans is one of the founders of the transition state theory.

Michael Polanyi Center

The Michael Polanyi Center (MPC) at Baylor University, Texas, was the first center at a research university exclusively dedicated to the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design, primarily to host William Dembski, its director, and Bruce L. Gordon, its assistant director. It was founded in 1999 by Baylor president Robert B. Sloan "with the primary aim of advancing the understanding of the sciences" in a religious context and was named for Michael Polanyi. It was aligned with the Discovery Institute's wedge strategy, and was funded in part by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation via the Discovery Institute. All of the center's research investigated the subject of intelligent design. It hosted a conference in April 2000 that brought the center to the attention of the broader Baylor community as well as the rest of the scholarly world.

Shortly thereafter Baylor's faculty called for the center to be dissolved. Baylor president Robert B. Sloan rejected the faculty demand, and the confrontation was resolved by agreeing to appoint a committee of people from outside the university. The committee recommended that the center be renamed and placed under the supervision of the existing Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning. Dembski objected and was removed as director in October 2000, and was appointed an associate research professor in the institute, a position he held until he left Baylor in 2005. Gordon was named interim director and the center was renamed the Baylor Science and Religion Project and placed under the supervision of the institute. By 2002, it had been again renamed to the Baylor Center for Science, Philosophy and Religion. By 2003, the MPC itself had been formally dissolved. Gordon left Baylor in 2005 to join the Discovery Institute.

Polanyi Medal

The Polanyi Medal is a biennial award of the Royal Society of Chemistry for outstanding contributions to the field of gas kinetics. The medal is presented at the International Symposium on Gas Kinetics after a plenary lecture given by the prize winner.

The award is named after the Hungarian-British polymath Michael Polanyi, 1891-1976, whose research helped to establish the topic of gas kinetics and reaction dynamics. His son, John Polanyi, received the Polanyi Medal in 1988.


Polányi, Polanyi is a surname. There have been a number of prominent individuals in the Polanyi family, illustrated in the following family tree:

Adolf Pollacsek (1820–1871) ∞ Zsófia Schlesinger

Mihály Pollacsek (March 21, 1848, Bánhegy (Dluha) – January 10, 1905), prominent member of the bourgeoisie involved in railroads ∞ (1881 in Warsaw) Cecília Wohl (Hungarian: Pollacsek Mihályné, Wohl Cecília, French: Cécile Wohl; 1862, Vilnius – 1939, Budapest), daughter of Lithuanian Rabbi Alex Wohl, held a literary salon in BudapestLaura Polanyi, later Striker (1882–1957), ∞ Sándor Striker

Eva Striker Zeisel, American industrial designer

Adolf Polányi

Karl Paul Polanyi (Hungarian: Polányi Károly, 1886, Vienna – 1964, Pickering, Ontario), a Hungarian-Canadian political economist and author of The Great Transformation ∞ Ilona Duczyńska

Kari Polanyi Levitt (born 1923, Vienna), the Emerita Professor of Economics at McGill University

Sophia (Zsófia) Polányi

Michael Polanyi (Hungarian: Polányi Mihály; 1891, Budapest – 1976, Manchester), Hungarian chemist, philosopher of science, economist∞ Magda Elizabeth Polanyi

John Charles Polanyi (born 1929, Berlin), Canadian Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry

Paul (Pál) Polányi

Lujza Pollacsek

Ervin Szabó (1877–1918)

Vilma Pollacsek

Irma Seidler, early love of György Lukács

Ernő Seidler, founding member of the Communist Party of Hungary

Potential theory of Polanyi

The potential theory of Polanyi, also called Polanyi adsorption potential theory, is a model of adsorption proposed by Michael Polanyi where adsorption can be measured through the equilibrium between the chemical potential of a gas near the surface and the chemical potential of the gas from a large distance away. In this model, he assumed that the attraction largely due to Van Der Waals forces of the gas to the surface is determined by the position of the gas particle from the surface, and that the gas behaves as an ideal gas until condensation where the gas exceeds its equilibrium vapor pressure. While the adsorption theory of Henry is more applicable in low pressure and BET adsorption isotherm equation is more useful at from 0.05–0.35 P/Po, the Polanyi potential theory has much more application at higher P/Po (~0.1–0.8).

Stefan von Bogdándy

Stefan von Bogdándy (Hungarian: Bogdándy István) (born 11 September 1890) was a Hungarian physician and physical chemist. He was a close collaborator of Michael Polanyi.He was born in Kolozsvár, Hungary (now Cluj-Napoca, Romania), to a noble Hungarian, Roman Catholic family. His father Alexander (Sándor) von Bogdándy (Hungarian: Bogdándy Sándor) was a government official.He studied medicine in Kolozsvár, and worked as a teaching assistant at the Physiological Institute of the University of Budapest early in his career. He moved to Berlin in the 1920s to work for Fritz Haber at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry. In Berlin he became a close collaborator of Michael Polanyi. Together with Polanyi, he "developed the highly-dilute flame techniques pioneered by the Haber and Zisch into a powerful tool for studying simple reaction rates through chemiluminescence."While he was known as Bogdándy István in Hungarian, he used the German version of his name, Stefan (von) Bogdándy, in international contexts, as was common practice among Hungarians. In German and English, the family name is often spelled Bogdandy without the accent, and the given name is sometimes also spelled Stephan. The noble particle von is also sometimes omitted. He was the father of the metallurgist and industrial executive Ludwig von Bogdandy and the grandfather of the legal scholar Armin von Bogdandy.

The Moot

This article is about the discussion group active in Britain from 1938 to 1947. For the Moot in Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe, see The Empire (Warhammer).

The Moot was a discussion group concerned with education, social reconstruction, and the role of culture in society. It was convened by J. H. Oldham, editor of the Christian Newsletter, and its participants were mainly Christian intellectuals. Karl Mannheim was a central figure in the group. Others who attended included T. S. Eliot, John Middleton Murry, Sir Fred Clarke, Michael Polanyi, Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Sir Walter Moberly, Professor John Baillie, Sir Hector Herrington, Geoffrey Vickers, A.R. Vidler, H. A. Hodges and Adolph Lowe. Catholic historian and independent scholar Christopher Dawson also contributed numerous written submissions, although he was able to attend only two meetings.The discussion group grew out of a Conference on Church, Community and State held at Oxford in 1937.

"More than anything else, the discussions of the Moot revolved around the topic of order and, more particularly, around the problem of how order might be restored in British society and culture in the context of a ‘world turned upside down’." (Mullins and Jacobs, 2006)

The discussions influenced T.S. Eliot's works of cultural criticism The Idea of a Christian society and Notes towards the definition of culture.

Truth by consensus

In philosophy, truth by consensus is the process of taking statements to be true simply because people generally agree upon them. Imre Lakatos characterizes it as a "watered down" form of provable truth propounded by some sociologists of knowledge, particularly Thomas Kuhn and Michael Polanyi.Philosopher Nigel Warburton argues that the truth by consensus process is not a reliable way of discovering truth. That there is general agreement upon something does not make it actually true.

There are two main reasons for this:

One reason Warburton discusses is that people are prone to wishful thinking. People can believe an assertion and espouse it as truth in the face of overwhelming evidence and facts to the contrary, simply because they wish that things were so.

The other one is that people are gullible, and easily misled.Another unreliable method of determining truth is by determining the majority opinion of a popular vote. This is unreliable because on many questions the majority of people are ill-informed. Warburton gives astrology as an example of this. He states that while it may be the case that the majority of the people of the world believe that people's destinies are wholly determined by astrological mechanisms, given that most of that majority have only sketchy and superficial knowledge of the stars in the first place, their views cannot be held to be a significant factor in determining the truth of astrology. The fact that something "is generally agreed" or that "most people believe" something should be viewed critically, asking the question why that factor is considered to matter at all in an argument over truth. He states that the simple fact that a majority believes something to be true is unsatisfactory justification for believing it to be true.Warburton makes a distinction between the fallacy of truth by consensus and the process of democracy in decision-making. Democracy is preferable to other processes not because it results in truth, but because it provides for equal participation by multiple special-interest groups, and the avoidance of tyranny.Weinberger characterizes Jürgen Habermas as a proponent of a consensus theory of truth, and criticizes that theory as unacceptable on the following grounds: First, even if everyone's opinion is in agreement, those opinions may all nonetheless be erroneous. Second, truth by consensus is conceived as a limit that is approached via an idealized process of discourse; however, it has not been proven that discourse even tends towards such a limit, or that discourse even tends towards one single limit, and thus it is not proven that truth is the limit that is approached by ideal discourse and consensus.

William H. Poteat

For other people with names similar to this go to William Poteat (disambiguation).William H. Poteat (19 April 1919 – 17 May 2000) was an American philosopher, scholar, and charismatic professor of philosophy, religion, and culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1947 to 1957 and at Duke University from 1960 to 1987. During that time he did foundational work in the critique of Modern and Postmodern intellectual culture. He was instrumental in introducing scientist-philosopher Michael Polanyi and his Post-Critical philosophy to the United States. He was a master of the Socratic Method of teaching and identified himself a "practicing dialectician," skilled through the use of irony in "understanding and elucidating conflicting points of view" As a Post-Critical philosopher, he encouraged his students and the readers of his books to recover their authentic selves from the confusing, self-alienating abstractions of modern intellectual life. This task and purpose Poteat came to recognize as profoundly convergent with Michael Polanyi's critique of Modern Critical thought. His teaching and writing also drew upon and combined in new ways the ideas of seminal critics of modern culture such as Pascal, Kierkegaard, Arendt, Wittgenstein (later works), and Merleau-Ponty—whose thinking Poteat came to identify as "Post-Critical" (rather than Postmodern), using a key concept from Michael Polanyi's Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. His papers are archived at the Yale Divinity School Library.

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