Polanyi – Tacit Knowledge and Its Aspects

Michael Polanyi coined the term “tacit knowledge” and described its aspects. I took all references from “The Tacit Dimension” (2009). I created a chart about the four aspects:

How Polanyi understands the fours aspects of tacit knowing:

  • Functional aspect: „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.“ (p.10) „I shall adopt a variant of this usage by saying that in an act of tacit knowing we attend from something for attending to something else; namely, from the first term to the second term of the tacit relation.”
  • Phenomenal aspect: “We may say, in general, that we are aware of the proximal term of an act of tacit knowing in the appearance of its distal term; we are aware of that from which we are attending to another thing, in the appearance of that thing.” (p.11)
  • Semantic aspect: „We are attending to the meaning of its impact on our hands in terms of its effect on the things to which we are applying it.“ (p.13)
  • Ontological aspect:
    • “…which tells us what tacit knowing is knowledge of.”
    • “Since tacit knowing establishes a meaningful relation between two terms, we may identify it with the understanding of the comprehensive entity which these two terms jointly constitute. Thus the proximal term represents the particulars of this entity, and we can say, accordingly, that we comprehend the entity by relying on our awareness of its particulars for attending to their joint meaning.”
 Through understanding these aspects of tacit knowing it becomes easier to further investigate and analyze learning in different settings. Of course formal learning is better approachable and measurable, but also formal learning processes are relying on tacit knowing and tacit knowing plays and even more important role when it comes to learning in practical settings at the workplace, at home or during leisure time.

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1 Response

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