Volume 25, Issue 1, 1998/1999
Walter B. Gulick
Prolegomena to a Polanyian Theory of Practice
A Critique of Stephen Turner’s Account
Stephen Turner explores the social dimensions of practices, probing to see if the notion of a shared practice can be understood as a cause or mechanism whereby knowledge arises and is used. When he concludes that practices are not some mysterious collective object but are best explained as individual habits, he thereby rejects an attenuated notion of practice and replaces it with a needlessly atomistic notion in which habits carry the full burden of explanation. Turner makes use of aspects of Polanyi’s thought, but this article suggests ways in which a fuller appropriation of Polanyian insights can salvage a social, telic notion of practices that illuminates human behavior.