An Introduction to the McEnerney Lectures

Phil Mullins

Michael Polanyi's McEnerney Lectures[1] were delivered in February of 1962 on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The Daily Californian, a newspaper that covers campus events at the University of California, Berkeley, indicates that the series was "established to encourage student interest in arts, sciences and related subjects."[2] Richard Gelwick, who attended the lectures and was at the time beginning his work with Polanyi, believes that Professor Sheldon Wolin, who was then a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, was responsible for Polanyi's invitation to give this series.[3]

The Daily Californian lists the titles and dates for the four lectures as follows: "The Destruction of Reality" (February 6, 1962); "The Realm of the Unspoken" (February 9, 1962); "The Vindication of Reality" (February 14, 1962); "A Society of Explorers" (February 16, 1962). Although Polanyi uses these titles in the lectures, he identifies the series under the general title "History and Hope: An Analysis of Our Age."[4]

Scott and Moleski note that Polanyi, in the McEnerney Lectures, "repeated his Virginia Lectures."[5] That is, the McEnerney Lectures are substantially the same as the lecture series Polanyi delivered in November, 1961, for the Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy of the University of Virginia. Polanyi was a distinguished visiting scholar at the Jefferson Center in fall of 1961. There is a typescript of these University of Virginia lectures that Polanyi gave to Richard Gelwick and it is available on the 1963 Gelwick microfilm collection of Polanyi materials.[6] The University of Virginia lectures have the same general title, "History and Hope: An Analysis of Our Age." The titles of the 4 lectures are also the same. If one listens to the McEnerney Lectures and compares them with the written text of the Virginia lectures, it is clear that, even though there are only a few months between the University of Virginia lectures and the McEnerney Lectures, Polanyi is still working on this material. In fact if you look at the text of the University of Virginia lectures on the Gelwick microfilm, there are many marks on pages suggesting Polanyi was polishing his basic text when he delivered it in Virginia. In the oral McEnerney Lectures, Polanyi makes what can be described as further small changes to the Virginia text, adding or removing words and phrases . Occasionally, he does omit several sentences or add a sentence or two. While some of these changes are interesting, it is clear that Polanyi is following the same text.

The first lecture in the University of Virginia series and in the McEnerney Lectures, titled "The Destruction of Reality," was published in The Virginia Quarterly Review (38: 2 [Spring 1962]: 177-195) under the title "History and Hope: An Analysis of Our Age." This is, as noted, the general title for both the four University of Virginia lectures and the four McEnerney Lectures. The published version of "The Destruction of Reality," except in the final two paragraphs, follows the version in the University of Virginia lectures and the McEnerney Lectures. Richard Allen includes this essay in his collection of Polanyi essays.[7]

The McEnerney Lectures were originally recorded by KPFA, a Berkeley radio station. They were broadcast in the summer of 1964. The audio (files BB4162.01-04) provided is courtesy of Pacifica Radio Archives; online streaming is for research purposes only. Copies of lectures are available for purchase at the following Pacifica Radio Archive sites:

BB4162.01 Michael Polanyi: The Destruction of Reality

BB4162.02 Michael Polanyi: The Realm of the Unspoken

BB4162.03 Michael Polanyi: The Vindication of Realities

BB4162.04 Michael Polanyi: A Society of Explorers

For additional information, contact Pacifica Radio Archive at 800-735-0230 or visit their website at http: //[8]


[1] This is apparently the proper spelling for the lecture series, at least according the University of California, Berkeley Library and The Daily Californian. However this Scottish name is spelled variously and in the Polanyi literature it is spelled in a variety of ways.
[2] The Daily Californian, February 6, 1962, p. 9.
[3] Personal conversation with Phil Mullins, January 13, 2007.
[4] The Daily Californian, February 6, 1962, p. 9.
[5] William Taussig Scott and Martin X. Moleski, SJ, Michael Polanyi: Scientist and Philosopher (New York; Oxford University Press, 2005), 248
[6] Collected Articles and Papers of Michael Polanyi, compiled by Richard L. Gelwick (Berkeley: Pacific School of Religion, 1963). This microfilm collection is organized chronologically.
[7] Michael Polanyi, Society, Economics and Philosophy, Selected Papers, ed. with an introduction by R. T. Allen (New Brunswick, NJ and London: Transaction Publishers. 1997): 79-93.
[8] Thanks go to Shawn Dellis of Pacific Radio Archives and John Flett for help in setting up the audio files used here.

McEnerney Lectures

History and Hope: An Analysis of Our Age

February 1962

Lecture 1: The Destruction of Reality (Click on the link and use "open" to play the file or "save as" to download the file.)

Lecture 2: The Realm of the Unspoken

Lecture 3: The Vindication of Realities

Lecture 4: A Society of Explorers