1st Edition

The Economic Thought of Michael Polanyi

By Gábor Bíró Copyright 2020
    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    Michael Polanyi is most famous for his work in chemistry and the philosophy of science, but in the 1930s and 1940s he made an important contribution to economics.

    Drawing on rich archival materials of Polanyi and his correspondents, Gábor Bíró explores their competing worldviews and their struggles to popularize their visions of the economy, economic expertise and democracy. Special focus is given to Polanyi’s pioneering economics film and postmodern ideas.

    This volume will be of interest to advanced students and researchers of the history of economics, philosophy of science, and science and technology studies.

    Acknowledgements Introduction ONE / Polanyi's Work Against Extreme Liberalism and Socialist Planning TWO / The First Economics Film THREE / Rival Schools of Thought in the 1930s and 1940s FOUR / Polanyi's Visual Method FIVE / Correspondence on the Spirituality of Science and Economics SIX / Economic Evil and Machineness EPILOGUE / Towards a Polanyian Personal Economics References Index


    Gábor Bíró is an Assistant Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Philosophy and History of Science at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary. He was awarded the History of Economics Society 'Craufurd Goodwin Best Article Prize' in 2021 for his paper on Michael Polanyi and the first economics film published in the Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

    "Bíró’s work is grounded in the archive, and, in my opinion, paints a fascinating picture of this brilliant scientist/philosopher reacting to the circumstances of his time. In so doing, Biro presents a well written and very deeply researched work on Polanyi’s own quest for exact thinking in demented times. I recommend it to all students of society."

    Peter J. Boettke, The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought

    "Bíró certainly succeeds in making clear that there are lots of unexplored connections between economics and the thought of Michael Polanyi. His discussion of Polanyi’s film is original and succeeds in moving beyond the realm of what historians of economics typically consider as "their corpus"."

    Erwin Dekker, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Journal of the History of Economic Thought

    "Biro's book is thoroughly researched and well worth reading for insights not only into Polanyi's economic ideas, but also into the many facets of economic theory during the 1930's and 1940's."

    Mary Jo Nye, Oregon State University, USA, Metascience

    "Gábor Bíró has told a detailed and less known story about an unorthodox economist and humanist, Michael Polanyi. [It...] is a vivid example of how to put historical excavation in the service of telling grand stories about science and society."

    Adam Tamas Tuboly, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, History of European Ideas

    "As Gábor Bíró (2019) argues clearly in his book, from the 1930s to the 1960s, Michael Polanyi charted a liberal-democratic way forward that differs from both socialism and from laissez faire, minimal state varieties of liberalism or libertarianism."

    Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Loughborough University London, Tradition & Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

    "The great merit of Bíró’s book is in his analysis of the epistolary Polanyi—the letters he received and wrote in the 1930s, when he was thinking about the problem of economics, and came to the view that economic education was necessary to create the right kind of social consciousness to serve as the basis of the right kind of interventions."

    Stephen Turner, University of South Florida, Tradition & Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

    "I admired the sweep of Bíró’s book, the chutzpah in taking on the entire fate of Western civilization. Commendable also was his use of Polanyi’s archive, especially his correspondence, which allowed him to draw into his narrative key public intellectuals, both domestic and emigres, living in interwar and war-time England – George Orwell, Victor Gollancz, Arthur Koestler, Harold Laski, Friedrich von Hayek, John Maynard Keynes, even T. S. Eliot."

    Trevor J. Barnes, Contemporary Sociology.

    "This book is a new contribution to Polanyi literature relative to a phase which has not been very much explored and discussed until now."

    Eduardo Beira, Tradition & Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

    "As one who has republished Polanyi’s articles on economics, written articles on the subject and edited books containing articles on it, but has been unable to read any of the vast amount of his unpublished work and correspondence about it, I heartily welcome this book which uses those materials to show how his economic thinking developed..."

    Richard Allen, Founder of the British Personalist Forum (Appraisal)