Guide to Personal Knowledge: The Philosophy of Michael Polanyi

Tacit Knowledge, Emergence and the Fiduciary Program

by Dániel Paksi (Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BUTE), Hungary), Mihály Héder (Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BUTE), Hungary)

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Paksi and Héder have written a very important book about one of the twentieth, and now twenty-first, century’s most essential, yet least understood or considered topics, the act of knowing. In their “Guide to Personal Knowledge,” Paksi and Héder serve as our conversation partners, carefully and thoughtfully unpacking for us Michael Polanyi’s magnum opus, “Personal Knowledge.”
For the novice, Paksi and Héder’s book provides a valuable introduction, as Polanyi’s work, while magnificent, is challenging for any first-time reader to successfully summit, let alone begin to ascend. For those familiar with Polanyi’s thought, Paksi and Héder share a personal grasp of it - formed by their experience, insight, and expertise - allowing readers to see how their own provisional understanding might or might not align with that of the authors.
This is a book I wish I had a dozen years ago. Well done.

Bruce Vojak
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Breakthrough Innovation Advisors, LLC

This book will help readers understand the most important book of Michael Polanyi, ‘Personal Knowledge’, and help them grasp the essence of his philosophical thinking. In this volume, Polanyi’s goals are first reconstructed, and then his main philosophical arguments are introduced. The discussion is limited to the most crucial ideas that are indispensable for the arc of his book: tacit knowledge, emergence and the fiduciary program.

The thirteen chapters of this volume explain the essence of the thirteen chapters of ‘Personal Knowledge’. The page numbers in this book work just as well with the 2015 ‘Enlarged Edition‘ of ‘Personal Knowledge‘ as with the original issues.

Whether you just want to get the key quotation and the context right on tacit knowledge, emergence or the fiduciary program, or want to have a deep dive for your scholarly research in philosophy and management, this book is for you.

List of figures and tables

C. P. Goodman


Part One: The art of knowing

Chapter 1 Objectivity

Chapter 2 Probability

Chapter 3 Order

Chapter 4 Skills

Part Two: The tacit component

Chapter 5 Articulation

Chapter 6 Intellectual passions

Chapter 7 Conviviality

Part Three: The justification of personal knowledge

Chapter 8 The logic of affirmation

Chapter 9 The critique of doubt

Chapter 10 Commitment

Part Four: Knowing and being

Chapter 11 The logic of achievement

Chapter 12 Knowing life

Chapter 13 The rise of man



Dániel Paksi has an MA in History and an MA in Philosophy (both at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) and a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science (Budapest University of Technology and Economics). Dr. Paksi was a Lecturer of Philosophy and History of Science from 2006 at BUTE and between 2006 and 2018 at ELU. His main fields of expertise are theories of emergence and evolution, philosophy of biology, and Michael Polanyi’s philosophy. Paksi is the author of ‘Personal Reality: The Emergentist Concept of Science, Evolution, and Culture’ (Two Volumes, Pickwick Publications, 2019).

Mihály Héder is a Software Engineer who turned to philosophy when facing some fundamental questions around Artificial Intelligence. He achieved his doctorate in philosophy by dwelling into the topic of computer epistemology in 2014 at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Here he applied Michael Polanyi’s framework and defined robot tacit knowledge. He teaches generic and AI ethics and philosophy of technology at his alma mater. Dr. Héder is deeply concerned about revealing the power of humanities for people with a STEM background. For Héder's other works see:

tacit knowledge, post-critical philosophy, personalism, emergence

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Guide to Personal Knowledge: The Philosophy of Michael Polanyi

Book Subtitle

Tacit Knowledge, Emergence and the Fiduciary Program





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


2 B&W

Publication date

September 2022