The Logic of Liberty  

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"Had the whole of Europe at that time been of the same mind as Italy, Renaissance humanism might have established freedom of thought everywhere, simply by default of opposition. Europe might have returned to—or, if you like, relapsed into—a liberalism resembling that of pre-Christian antiquity. Whatever may have followed after that, our present disasters would not have occurred." --The Logic of Liberty (1951) by Michael Polanyi

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Logic of Liberty (1951) is a book by Michael Polanyi.


A chemist and member of a family renowned for its learning in several disciplines, Michael Polanyi experienced first-hand the horrors of totalitarian government and worldwide war. Consequently there is a singular weight to Polanyi's challenge to advocates of centrally planned scientific inquiry or the centrally planned implementation of scientific discovery. He argued that organizations—or governments—based solely on the methods of science threaten to foreclose a full human knowledge of the mysteries of existence and therefore pose a direct threat not only to academic freedom but to social and political liberty. The very triumphs of science in the modern era, Polanyi believed, at least affect and sometimes threaten liberty: "Our discovery and acceptance of scientific knowledge is a commitment to certain beliefs which we hold, but which others may refuse to share." This fateful interrelationship between science and liberty in our time is given supreme and elegant reflection in The Logic of Liberty.

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