by Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch

Universtity of Chicago Press, 1975
ISBN 0-226-67295-6
246 pages; paperback; $22



Meaning, an excellent, yet very accessible introduction to Polanyi’s thought edited by Harry Prosch and published shortly before Polanyi’s death in 1975, is based on lectures he gave at the Universities of Chicago and Texas between 1968 and 1971. 

The first chapter shows “how the modern mind has destroyed meaning and how his own (Polanyi’s) work on the reformation of epistemology and the philosophy of science has prepared the way for a possible restoration of meaning through the development of the notion of personal knowledge, as structured by the distinction between subsidiary and focal awareness. 

The conclusion of the book… shows how the meanings established in science and those achieved in the humanities (those discussed in the main body of the book) can be brought into existential harmony through recognition of the existence of meaningful order in the world.  This synthesis, together with the further recognition of the life of mutual authority, might then show the way toward a restoration of meaning in the life of contemporary man” (quoted from the Preface). 


1. The Eclipse of Thought

 2. Personal Knowledge

3. Reconstruction

4. From Perception to Metaphor

5. Works of Art

6. Validity in Art

7. Visionary Art

8. The Structure of Myth

9. Truth in Myths

10. Acceptance of Religion

11. Order

12. Mutual Authority

13. The Free Society