Freedom, Authority and Economics: Essays on Michael Polanyi's Politics and Economics

R. T. Allen (Ed.)

by Simon Smith (University of Surrey), Klaus Allerbeck (Goethe University, Germany), Tihamer Margitay (Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary), Endre Nagy (Semmelweis University, Hungary), Viktor Geng (Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary), R. T. Allen, Richard W. Moodey (Gannon University), Phil Mullins (Missouri Western State University)

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This edited volume of original contributions deals with the economic and political thought of Michael Polanyi. Requiring little prior knowledge of Polanyi, this volume further develops a somewhat neglected side of Polanyi's work. In particular it examines the 'tacit integration', of subsidiary details into focal objects or actions as central to all knowing and action. It traces ontological counterparts in the structures of comprehensive entities and complex actions, and a multi-level universe in which lower levels have their boundary conditions, the extents to which they apply, determined by those of the next higher level, whilst each possessing its own laws or operative principles. This schema of 'dual control' preserves the reality and relative autonomy of each level, and its interactions with others, against the various reductions.

The essays in this volume also employ and develop important additional concepts and distinctions such as: 'corporate' and 'spontaneous' order; 'public' and 'private' liberties; 'general' and 'specific authority'; and 'moral inversion'; which, as the essays show, are necessary for understanding and maintaining a free society and the freedom of institutions within it. Among the topics treated with them are: more of the prerequisites of freedom in public liberties dedicated to principles and transcendent values; totalitarianism and society as spontaneous order; the balance of general and specific authority in society and particular institutions; reductionism, totalitarianism and consumption in consumer societies, as moral inversions; the mutual interactions of economics and politics as distinct and autonomous but interacting levels; the sociological aspects of economics; and Polanyi's own contributions to sociology.

Although, as indicated, Polanyi has his special terms, the essays in this volume, like his works, give them meaning with concrete examples and so avoid merely shuffling a mass of abstractions. Together the essays show that his work is a rich seam of ideas and inspiration for yet further extension and application.

Notes on the contributors
Chapter 1 Introduction: Michael Polanyi and his political and economic writing
R. T. Allen
Chapter 2 Polanyi on liberty: Earlier writings
Endre J. Nagy
Chapter 3 Polanyi on “public liberty”
and “dynamic order”
Phil Mullins
Chapter 4 Authority and practice: general and specific authority in science and society
Simon Smith
Chapter 5 On Moral Inversion
Viktor Geng
Chapter 6 Moral inversion: A social diagnosis
Tihamér Margitay
Chapter 7 The from-to structure of political and economic thinking
Richard W. Moodey
Chapter 8 A Polanyian account of the relations between politics and economics
R.T. Allen
Chapter 9 Polanyi and the sociology of economic life
Richard W. Moodey
Chapter 10 Michael Polanyi: Almost a sociologist?
Klaus Allerbeck
Index of names
Index of subjects

R. T. Allen (Editor) has lectured and written extensively on Michael Polanyi. Having gained a BA in Philosophy (University of Nottingham, 1963), he then pursued an M.Ed by thesis ('Emotion and Education') during which he rediscovered Michael Polanyi. He has been deeply indebted to him ever since. Richard went on to earn an external BD and PhD (1980) from King's College, University of London, published as "Transcendence and Immanence in the Philosophy of Michael Polanyi and Christian Theism" (1992). His academic appointments have included Loughborough College of Education (1972-77), Sokoto College of Education, Nigeria (1980-2), The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad (1984-8) and University of Nottingham (1988-2002). His other especially relevant publications on or applying Polanyi include:

-Beyond Liberalism: The Political Thought of F.A. Hayek and Michael Polanyi (1998);
-ed. Society, Economics and Philosophy: Selected Papers by Michael Polanyi (1997);
-co-ed. Emotion, Reason and Tradition: Essays on the Social, Political and Economic Thought of Michael Polanyi (2005).

Articles and contributions to books:
-‘Michael Polanyi’: The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 1998;
-‘Knowing how and knowing that: a Polanyian perspective’, in Neuweg, Georg Hans (Ed.): Wissen - Können - Reflexion. Ausgewählte Verhältnisbestimmungen. Innsbruck, Wien: Studienverlag, 2000;
-‘Michael Polanyi’ in Dictionary of Liberal Thought, ed. D. Black and E. Randall, London, Politico's, 2007.
-The philosophy of Michael Polanyi and its significance for education', Journal of Philosophy of Education Vol 12, 1978, pp. 167-177.

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Freedom, Authority and Economics: Essays on Michael Polanyi's Politics and Economics





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

October 2016