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A comparison of Michael Polanyi and Herman Dooyeweerd

Michael Polanyi and Herman Dooyeweerd seem to have much in common, as the following table, devised by Gareth Jones, shows:

(Must add something about Polanyi & Prosch's interesting book about Meaning. )

Issue =, # Polanyi Dooyeweerd
Ground motive = Creation, Fall, Redemption Creation, Fall, Redemption
Basis of reality = A world of meaning A world of meaning
Views about Aspects
Diversity = Many levelled world.
Levels irreducible;
We cannot explain the meaning of higher level on basis of lower levels
Aspectual world.
Aspects irreducible.
Emergence of aspects/levels # Evolutionary process of emergence of levels. Aspects are 'given' by God, and they are latent, or 'asleep' until opened.
Ontology suggested # No ? Proposes a suite of 15 aspects, but merely as a proposal.
Could any other set of levels/aspects have 'emerged'? ? Possibly?? No.
Governing laws = Each level has a unique set of governing principles Aspectual laws - some determinative, some normative.
Tangible v. intangible = Intangible things are the more meaningful Intangible things are qualified by later (post-analytic) aspects; tangible things might be qualified by physical aspect. Later aspects involve all earlier and hence a 'greater' diversity of the totality of Meaning.

(But beware of denigrating non-human things in Creation. And, in reality, meaning is not a quantity, hence we should not speak of more or less.)

Coherence / Unity # The higher must emerge from lower. Inter-aspect relationships of dependency and analogy.
Boundary conditions = Upper level imposes conditions on the operation of the lower level. Molecules in a cell: their behaviour is directed by the need of the cell. e.g. water wheel: water channel imposes condition that directs water to wheel. Sort of agrees, via notions of anticipation and retrocipation. Cell's biotic function directs the physical behaviour of the molecules within it.
Views about Knowledge
Knowing ?= Centrality of the person. Commitment, skill and activity of knower in knowing. Centrality of person. Intuition (multi-aspectual, including pistic aspect of commitment, formative aspect of skill).
Belief and knowledge = Personal nature of knowledge based on belief and faith Personal nature of knowledge based on belief and faith
The capacity of humans to know = A knowable reality. There are 'clues' within reality which enable humans to comprehend reality; clues 'beguile' us and lead us on to know the focal object. A knowable reality. Human beings' ability to know is attuned to God's creation.
Science = Scientific work reveals the hidden framework; disclosure. "The law as a real feature of nature" (Science, Faith and Society p.10) Law-framework is the fundamental created reality; role of science is to make such laws explicit so we can know them.
Total knowledge? = No. Knowledge relative and no pure facts. Because of tacit knowledge we cannot totally comprehend the focal object. No. Knowledge relative and no pure facts. Because of non-absoluteness of analytic aspect, we can never totally comprehend an object.
Underneath knowing = 'Fore-having' Presuppositions (tied in with ground motives)
Lingual = Communication is always ambiguous. Because of the non-absoluteness of the lingual aspect, there will always be some ambiguity in communication.
The way we understand reality =? Schemata and cultural setting Pre-theoretical knowing and theoretical reflection
?= Tacit knowing; the 'tacit coefficient' is an intuitive foreseeing of the framework. Intuition (tacit is a more comprehensive theory).
Theortical v. Naive Knowledge = Superiority of non-scientific knowledge - the focal object. Superiority of pre-theoretical experience.
Types of knowing?? = Unity of religious and scientific knowledge Unity of religious and scientific knowledge
Place of religion = Importance of religion Pistic normativity
Views about Normativity
Humanity's Quest # Society of explorers Cultural mandate (Steward the Creation)
Root of evil =? Moral inversion Misdirection of ethical, and pistic aspect
Views about Society
#? Concept of society Concept of state
Ideal structure of society # Free Society based on autonomous organisations Sphere Sovereignty

('=' means the two seem to be similar to each other, despite some apparent differences in wording. '#' means the two views are different.)

Author: Gareth Jones.

This page is part of a collection of pages that links to various thinkers, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Written on the Amiga and Protext.

Created: 26 June 2002 Last updated: 28 June 2002. 24 February 2004. 16 June 2010 .nav, .end, rid unet, rid GJ's old email. 7 September 2017 rid counter, mention 'Meaning'.