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Tradition and Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

Volume 40, Issue 1, 2013/2014

Charles Lowney
Pages 16-29

From Epistemology to Ontology to Epistemontology

According to Tihamér Margitay, Michael Polanyi held a strong “correspondence thesis” between the structure of tacit knowing and the structure of ontological emergence. In agreement with Margitay, this article finds a one-to-one correspondence implausible, given our tacit ability to integrate various clues into the apprehension of the same object and given the multiple realization of object types via different components. It is acknowledged, however, that such a correspondence is encouraged by an analytic, scientific approach to understanding objects (as Bedeutungen), when held distinct from linguistic modes of identifying objects (via Sinne). It is then shown how the epistemological and ontological interweave at a deeper level in Polanyi’s participatory or enactive realism. This notion of epistemontology counters a second set of Margitay’s criticisms. It re-affirms a pluralist ontology by demonstrating how machine types, as comprehensive entities, resist a reduction to material parts and lower level physical laws, without violating such laws.

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