Michael Polanyi: Scientist and Philosopher

By William Taussig Scott; Martin X. Moleski | Go to book overview

Epilogue

William T. Scott

The last time I saw Michael Polanyi was a pleasant June afternoon in 1974. Our family was visiting in Oxford. After leaving our young children with friends, we drove to the familiar home on Upland Park Road. There Michael and Magda entertained us on the back terrace, where the garden was in the full bloom of summer.

In many ways, Michael was his old self, impeccably dressed, unfailingly courteous, pleasant and kind. In other ways, we sensed his sadness at the loss of his full powers and the consequent frustration that his work would remain incomplete. Although Michael was not inclined to carry on a serious discussion, he was eager to share his memories of the past. Our conversation was wide-ranging; we spoke of friends and family, of Polanyi's impressions of firstcentury art, and of his memories from Berlin. He repeated for us the story of the day he had gathered together a group of scientists in the hope of finding a way to oppose the alarming growth of Hitler's power; in the conversation, Schrodinger likened the spread of Nazism to ink spreading across a damask table cloth.

Toward the end of our visit, Michael took my wife, Ann, for a slow walk around the border of the garden, stopping from time to time to admire the roses. The flowers brought him joy, reminding him of his earlier gardens in the Berlin suburb of Dahlem and the Manchester village of Hale, and of his long-ago wish for a small house with a large garden to delight the soul. Shortly after our visit, the mail brought a note from Michael to me, expressing his concern that I should have "more far reaching employment." Although his own active days were limited—he was

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Michael Polanyi: Scientist and Philosopher
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Contents xv
  • A Note on Names xvii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Part I - Hungary: 1891–1919 1
  • 1: Early Years: 1891–1914 3
  • 2: Coming of Age in the Great War: 1914–1919 33
  • Part II - Germany: 1919–1933 53
  • 3: Karlsruhe: 1919–1920 55
  • 4: The Fiber Institute: 1920–1923 67
  • 5: Institute for Physical Chemistry: 1923–1933 93
  • Part III - Manchester: 1933–1959 131
  • 6: Physical Chemistry and Economics: 1933–1937 133
  • 7: The Philosophy of Freedom: 1938–1947 171
  • 8: Personal Knowledge: 1948–1959 211
  • Part IV - Scholar at Large: 1959–1976 237
  • 9: Merton College, Oxford: 1959–1961 239
  • 10: At the Wheel of the World: 1961–1971 247
  • 11: The Last Years: 1971–1976 279
  • Epilogue 293
  • Appendix: People Interviewed by William T. Scott 295
  • Notes 297
  • Bibliography of Works by Michael Polanyi 327
  • Index 351
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