Learning to See

Tradition and Discovery 32 (2):38-50 (2005)
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My own ongoing reflection on the Polanyian understanding of knowing leads me to recommend that we help people acknowledge and reaccredit authority as a key feature of all human knowing. This recommendation I support in this essay by showing the following. First, I argue that reliance on authority is unavoidable. The Polanyian model, along with the complementary insights of a few others, and reflection on human experience, together show that human knowledge is what it is only by virtue of its normative component. Such normativity, I argue, requires persons as mentors and as recipients. Second, I describe some of the ins and outs of responsible reliance on authority in a way that I hope will make it a more palatable and delightful prospect, and will encourage its skillful employment. I believe that this message offers much needed epistemological therapy for philosophy and ordinary people today



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