The Unaccountable Element in Science1

Michael Polanyia1

a1 Merton College, Oxford.

I hope that it will become clear in the course of this paper what I mean by calling some elements of science unaccountable. Let me now say only that I shall speak of the contributions made to scientific thought by acts of personal judgment which cannot be replaced by the operation of explicit reasoning. I shall try to show that such tacit operations play a decisive part not only in the discovery, but in the very holding of scientific knowledge. I shall outline the structure of these acts and indicate to what extent this structure offers a justification for relying on such acts.


1 An earlier version of this paper was delivered in Calcutta at the Bose Institute, and has been published in India. The editor is grateful to the Bose Institute for permission to publish the present version.