In Michael Polanyi's Personal Knowledge, the "personal" is defined with:

This distinction [of personal and subjective] establishes the conception of the personal, which is neither subjective nor objective. In so far as the personal submits to requirements acknowledged by itself as independent of itself, it is not subjective; but in so far as it is an action guided by individual passions, it is not objective either. It transcends the disjunction between subjective and objective.

(Personal Knowledge, 1962, p.316; emphasize mine)

Is this definition of "personal" accepted generally?

This is different from the common definition of personal as distinguishing the single individual from the group (as defined by Merriam-Webster:)

relating or belonging to a single or particular person rather than to a group or an organization

Obviously Polanyi is philosophizing on the word and not taking it in its common-sense definition. It seems like he's taking it as an epistemological term. Is it common in epistemology to take "personal" as a distinct concept from subjective?

  • 1
    One of the hallmarks of Polanyi's personal knowledge is that it ties facts to values ("requirements acknowledged by itself"). In this sense, it anticipates the view which became popular after Putnam's Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy, especially among pragmatism-minded philosophers because the skill component of it ("knowledge how") is by its nature personalized.
    – Conifold
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 21:57
  • It reminds me of the concept called 'Particularity' in Nonduality writings.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 16:59


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