Notes on Polanyi, Personal Knowledge Part 1

Main Idea: Pythagoras saw numbers and rationality inherent in nature. Science moved from this inherent rationality to seeing itself as a tool or instrument.

Copernicus elevated theory over senses (Polanyi 3). He still remained anthropocentric.

Shift from Pythagorean to Ionian knowledge: “Numbers and geometrical forms are no longer assumed to be inherent as such in Nature” (8). Mathematics is now divorced from experience.  Math is now a mere instrument. We have the mathematical version of “Lessing’s Ditch.” Mathematics is necessary while reality is contingent.  While they may overlap, one isn’t inherent in the other.

With Einstein we see a beginning attack on this type of thinking.  His 1905 essays “discovered rationality in nature, unaided by observation” (11).

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