Thu, 17 August 2006
Twenty years ago, writing in The Wilson Quarterly, the literary critic Cleanth Brooks noted that: "A world reduced to hard facts would thereby become a dehumanized world, a world in which few of us would want to live. We are intensely interested in how our fellow human beings behave -- in their actions, to be sure, but also in the feelings, motives, purposes that lead them into these actions." Most of us don't believe in a world reduced to hard facts, but for some time, Western societies have found it virtually impossible to order public life around anything other than hard facts.
The Canadian philosopher George Parkin Grant, in an essay written in the 1960s, commented on the widely held assumption in modern societies that the only knowledge that is properly considered objective and public is scientific knowledge, that is, knowledge of hard facts. Grant posed three questions that flowed from this assumption: "(a) whether there is any knowledge other than that reached by quantifying and experimental methods, (b) whether, as such methods cannot provide knowledge of the proper purposes of human life, the very idea of there being better and worse purposes has any sense to it, (c) whether, indeed, purpose is not merely what we will in power from the midst of chaos. The effect of these questionings on the humanities could not but be enormous." The work of Michael Polanyi is a valuable resource in combatting the assumptions about the unique worth of scientific knowledge. Polanyi, who lived from 1891 to 1976, was first a scientist (an accomplished physical chemist) who turned to philosophy later in his life in order to address some of the social crises prompted by the misleading ideals of objectivity derived from science.
In 1999, MARS HILL AUDIO produced a two-and-one-half-hour long audio documentary about Polanyi's life and work, called Tacit Knowing, Truthful Knowing: The Life and Thought of Michael Polanyi. For years, it was available only on audiocassette, and more recently, on MP3 CD. This MARS HILL AUDIO Report is one of a number of products which have just been released for distribution as downloadable audio (information about that Report is on this page). The download (which costs $9.00) is formatted to facilitate easy transfer to conventional audio CDs.
We'll feature an excerpt from that Report on our August Audition, which will be posted next week.
Category:MHA MP3 -- posted at: 5:48pm EDT