Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers

By Stuart Brown; Diané Collinson et al. | Go to book overview

Main publications:
(1912) Kennisleer contra materie-realisme [Theory of Knowledge Against Matter-realism], Amsterdam: Versluys.
(1915) Oorlogsfilosofie [Philosophy of War], Amsterdam: Versluys.
(1921) De zin der ver gelding I [The Sense of Retribution I], Amsterdam: Emmering (dissertation).
(1931) Le sens de la mort, Paris: PUF.
(1936) Sexuele ethiek [Sexual Ethics], Amsterdam: Kosmos.
(1947) De zin der vergelding II [The Sense of Retribution II], Amsterdam: Van Oirschot (posthumous).
(1947) Verspreide geschriften [Collected Papers] 2 vols, Amsterdam: Van Oirschot.

Secondary literature:
Spigt, P. (ed.) (1946) Leo Polak, Amsterdam.

Polak considered philosophy first of all as the science of the unity of our knowledge. It is necessary and also possible to solve philosophical problems in a rational and objective way. The ratio is the common instrument of all men, situated on a higher level than all kinds of beliefs that contradict each other. The foundation of philosophy is laid by the pure subject; nature is the product of this subject. Polak's critical philosophy thus opposes all 'dogmatism' that is founded on nature.

In ethics and in philosophy of law the mind is the source of objective and unchangeable rules and norms. This autonomous position is in agreement with the Stoa and with Spinoza, leading to the sentence that 'virtue is its own reward'. Within the same tradition Polak states that freedom is causality descending from the strength of our own will, and coercion is causality in spite of our own will. The real foundation of the free personality is called 'character'. Personal death means no more than the end of subjective life; whatever is done in an objective way will remain. The meaning of death is the call to moral behaviour during lifetime.

The moral good originates from the principle of objectivity: the categorical imperative commands: 'you have to will objectively', without regarding your own subjective and personal feelings and emotions; you must act as if you were an objective person. The moral bad originates from subjective desire and leads to conflicts with other subjects and with society as a whole. The greatest evil of our time is making war. No objective argument can be found to justify it and therefore all preparation for war is criminal and moral duty is to be an anti-militarist. In his great work on criminal law Polak expounds the theory of retaliation: the only meaning of punishment can be found within the sphere of retributive justice. Punishment has no sense in the context of reconciliation or of compensation, because the only effect of punishment has to be to restore the violated (objective) order. The criminal sought pleasure in badness, and the balance has to be recovered by inflicting sorrow.


Polanyi, Michael

Hungarian-British, b: 12 March 1891, Budapest, Hungary. d: 22 February 1976. Cat: Philosopher-scientist. Ints: Philosophy of science; social philosophy; philosophy of religion. Educ: Medicine, Universty of Budapest; Physical Chemistry, Karlsruhe; PhD in Chemistry, Budapest. Infls: Bredig (in physical chemistry) and Einstein. Appts: Karlsruhe, Berlin Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Fibre Chemistry, 1920 (Professor 1926); Manchester (Physical Chemistry 1933, Social Studies 1948); Merton College, Oxford, 1959-61.

Main publications:
(Omitting the scientific work.)
(1940) The Contempt of Freedom: The Russian Experiment and After, London: Watts.
(1946) Science, Faith and Society, London: Oxford University Press.
(1951) The Logic of Liberty: Reflections and Rejoinders, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
(1958) Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-critical Philosophy.
(1959) The Science of Man, London: Routledge.
(1967) The Tacit Dimension, London: Routledge.
(1969) Knowing and Being, ed. Grene, London: Routledge.

Secondary literature:
Brennan, J. (1977) 'Polanyi's transcendence of the distinction between objectivity and subjectivity, especially as applied to the philosophy of science', Journal of the British Phenomenological Society 8: 141-52.
Gelwick, R. (1977) The Way of Discovery: An Introduction to the Thought of Michael Polanyi, New York: Oxford University Press.
Langford, T.A. and Poteat, W.H. (1968) Intellect and Hope: Essays in the Thought of Michael Polanyi, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • List of Abbreviated Sources xvi
  • List of Schools and Movements xxi
  • A 1
  • Main Publications: 19
  • Main Publications: 22
  • Main Publications: 24
  • Main Publications: 25
  • Main Publications: 29
  • B 41
  • Main Publications: 97
  • C - Cabral, Amilcar Lopes 119
  • Main Publications: 148
  • D 167
  • E 209
  • F 222
  • G 261
  • H 296
  • Main Publications: 323
  • Main Publications: 330
  • I 361
  • Main Publications: 365
  • J 370
  • Main Publications: 385
  • K 387
  • Main Publications: 405
  • Main Publications: 423
  • L 425
  • M 486
  • Main Publications: 491
  • Main Publications: 498
  • Main Publications: 540
  • N 558
  • Main Publications: 577
  • O 583
  • P 593
  • Main Publications: 605
  • Main Publications: 614
  • Main Publications: 626
  • Q 640
  • R 644
  • Main Publications: 657
  • S 690
  • Main Publications: 701
  • Main Publications: 704
  • T 764
  • U 795
  • V 800
  • W 817
  • Main Publications: 827
  • Main Publications: 833
  • Main Publications: 851
  • X 853
  • Y 857
  • Z 861
  • Guide to Schools and Movements 876
  • Bibliography 893
  • Nationality Index 903
  • Category Index 909
  • Index of Interests 918
  • Index of Influences 925
  • Index of People 936
  • Index of Subjects 945


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 947

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.