Front Page Titles (by Subject) Self-Knowledge and Knowing Others - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1980, vol. 3, No. 1
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Self-Knowledge and Knowing Others - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1980, vol. 3, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Self-Knowledge and Knowing Others
“Wittgenstein and Polanyi: The Problem of Privileged Self-Knowledge.” Philosophy Today 23(Fall 1979):267–278.
Hall supports the view, previously advanced by C.B. Daly, that there is a “striking affinity” between the views held by Ludwig Wittgenstein and Michael Polanyi.
First of all, both thinkers reject the basic Cartesian framework which gave rise to the introspectionist/extrospectionist and mentalist versus behaviorist dualisms. Both Wittgenstein and Polanyi saw this Cartesian dualism as an artificial, unjustified wedge between knowing oneself, and between one’s mental and one’s physical existence (indeed, the mental and the physical ontological realms).
Secondly, Hall maintains that Wittgenstein did not complete the job of overthrowing Cartesianism because he “offers no positive third ontological and epistemological alternative in terms of which the problem of privileged self-knowledge can be solved.” The problem seems real enough, since on a commonsense level there does appear to be a difference between knowing oneself and knowing whatever is not oneself. Knowing oneself seems more immediately accessible, even somewhat more certain, than knowing what is not oneself could be. Yet when closely considered, this apparently feasible distinction simply fails to hold up (as Wittgenstein’s private language argument shows: purely private awareness leaves no room for ever being wrong, yet one is often wrong, even about oneself). Hall argues that Polanyi’s effort to broaden the use of “know” so as “to include not only ‘knowing that,’ but ‘knowing how’ as well” successfully rejects the introspective/extrospective dichotomy. And Polanyi’s point avoids the mistaken conception of knowledge as a passive experience, substituting for it the idea that in knowing something one engages in “integration,” which is “something we achieve.” These subsidiary ingredients of knowledge, the background of what Polanyi characterizes as “tacit” knowledge, are indispensable requirements for “the focus of my attention.”
Third, Polanyi’s conception of knowing helps avoid the mind/body dichotomy, especially as this is conceived in connection with the problem of other minds. This means: do we know other people as beings with a mind, if all we are passively aware of is their physical attributes and behavior? Hall claims that in Polanyi’s view “I am subsidiarily aware of [another’s] bodily movements, facial expressions, his words, etc., while my focal attention is on what these clues mean . . . [which is] the person.”
Fourth, Hall claims that by reference to Polanyi’s focal/subsidiary distinction in the activity of knowing, we can make room for the grain of truth in the private access theory without committing ourselves to the highly problematic dualism, either epistemologically or ontologically.