Jessica Hemmings

Textile Writer

Tacit Knowledge

Tacit Knowledge lecture
University of Johannesburg
September 21, 2018
All welcome

Tacit knowledge is commonly thought of as held within the body. Michael Polanyi, often credited as the first to mention tacit knowledge, observes: “we can know more than we can tell.” (1966, 4) Polanyi situates this knowledge firmly within the body, explaining that “Our body is the ultimate instrument of all our external knowledge, whether intellectual or practical.” (15) More recently this attention to foregrounding the body has been taken up in humanities discourse by researchers such as Richard Shusterman whose notion of somaesthetics “highlights and explores the soma – the living, sentient, purposive body – as the indispensable medium for all perception.” (3) But tacit knowledge is also recognised as knowledge that is difficult to articulate. The admittedly eclectic range of examples I have drawn together attend to the challenge of articulating tacit knowledge, often in situations where this knowledge is crucial to the safety of the student. Can tacit knowledge be taught? Honestly, probably not. Instead situations are designed for the student to begin to safely acquire their own felt knowledge

image credit: Guillemette Bolens (2015)