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Tradition and Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

Volume 41, Issue 3, 2014/2015

David Nikkel
Pages 32-39

Unpacking the Tacit

In Understanding the Tacit, Stephen Turner contends that 1) neo-Kantian frameworks, understood as identical (tacit) possessions collectively shared, do not exist and 2) in communicating with a person from another perspective, a speaker is not making explicit one’s tacit knowledge, but rather improvising an articulation relative to a given context. Turner establishes the first point in convincing fashion. However, he does not allow for the possibility of similar tacit knowledge that is in some sense “shared.” While Turner has positive things to say about the embodied nature of tacit knowledge, other contentions seem to undermine the crucial nature of embodiment. Turner is also correct on his second point, though he could have strengthened his argument by recognizing Polanyian implications and insights on the difficulty or impossibility of making the tacit explicit.

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