Unlearning LO24529

From: Fred Nickols (nickols@worldnet.att.net)
Date: 05/02/00

Replying to Artur F. Silva in LO24501 --

>The question of the change of tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge has
>already been discussed here (with or without emergencies). Someone
>clarified already that, according to the definition from Polanyi, tacit
>knowledge is the type of Knowledge that CAN NOT be made explicit. (Of
>course, we can say that Polanyi was wrong, or, more elegantly use a
>different term). What I find interesting is that even after that has been
>said (and repeated, if I recall well) a lot of people have continued to
>talk about the "conversion from tacit to explicit".
>But that is not only a definition from Polinyi: it is normally accepted
>within our field. For instance in "The Dance of Change", under the heading
>"Tacit Knowledge" (pag 422/423, of the UK edition) it is said: "It is
>important to understand that tacit knowledge CAN NEVER be reduced to
>explicit knowledge. In fact, talk about "converting tacit to explicit
>knowledge" reflects a SUPERFICIAL grasp of the notion of tacit.(...)
>Ultimately, contemplating the deeper meaning of tacit knowledge leads do
>recognising subtleties in what it means for humans to Know" (I will came
>back to this quotation in a different post).

I really appreciate the remarks above, particularly the additional source
cited in the second paragraph. I'm the one who cited Polanyi's definition
as precluding the conversion of tacit to explicit and I found it amazing
that some folks promptly dumped that definition in favor of one that would
permit them to discuss the conversion of tacit to explicit, an
impossibility given Polanyi's definition of the term. It's very difficult
to have a meaningful conversation or even an argument in the logical sense
of that word if words, once defined as premises for the conversation, have
their meanings changed willy nilly -- sort of like Alice and Humpty
Dumpty: "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful
tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

A paper I wrote for inclusion in the latest issue of the Knowledge
Management yearbook, "The Knowledge in Knowledge Management," can be
viewed at my articles web site: http://home.att.net/~nickols/articles.htm.
Look under the Knowledge and Knowledge Management heading. It sorts out
explicit, implicit and tacit and stitches them together in a framework --
without violating Polanyi's definition.

Thanks again for the additional citation.


Fred Nickols The Distance Consulting Company "Assistance at A Distance" http://home.att.net/~nickols/distance.htm nickols@worldnet.att.net (609) 490-0095

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