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Hall, J.A. (1984). Pseudo-Objectivety as a Defense Mechanism: Polanyi's Concept of Dynamo-Objective Coupling. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 12(2):199-209.

(1984). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 12(2):199-209

Pseudo-Objectivety as a Defense Mechanism: Polanyi's Concept of Dynamo-Objective Coupling

James A. Hall, M.D.

The intention of Michael Polanyi was to examine the way in which knowledge is derived, particularly in creative scientific investigation. He was also concerned with the social matrix of science: the way in which the freedom to pursue personal visions of reality may lead the scientist toward more comprehensive integrations that, if true, can unfold further toward enlarged horizons of meaning. The search for comprehensive meaning is also a personal quest, requiring intensely personal commitment. Polanyi's major work, therefore, bore the title Personal Knowledge, with the subtitle, Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. With its emphasis on the quest for meaning and the focal/tacit structure of all knowledge, Polanyi's thought has struck resonant chords in theology as well as in epistemology.

Polanyi began his career as a physician in Hungary, later becoming a chemist (and a Fellow of the Royal Society), before moving to his final work in the philosophy of science. I met Polanyi when he visited Duke University in Durham, North Carolina during my psychiatry residency. I was so impressed with the re-conceptualization of knowing in terms of his focal/tacit model that I arranged for him to present at the weekly psychiatric grand rounds. Several years later, at the Jung Institute in Zurich, I wrote my diploma thesis on the relationship between the dream ego and the waking ego, using Polanyi's concept of focal and tacit knowing as an explanatory tool. [This later became the basis for Chapter 7 in a book on the Jungian interpretation of dreams (Hall, 1977).]

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