Synopsis of Polanyi's Life
MEP = synopsis of Polanyi's life assembled by his wife, Magda E. Polanyi.
PM = Phil Mullins.
Additional details have been added from the Biographical Memoirs of the Fellows of the Royal Society obituary by Hodgkin and Wigner.
|1891||Born in Budapest, Hungary, [March 11/12] (TD, opposite title page) of Viennese parents (family name changed from "Pollacsek" to "Polanyi" to sound more Magyar).|
|1899||8||"His father, who had been a civil engineer and was constructing and financing railways in Hungary, lost all his money" (MEP).|
|1905||14||"The father died and Polanyi earned his living from that time by tutoring richer schoolmates" (MEP).|
|1909||17||Became a student of medicine at the University of Budapest (MEP).|
|1913||22||"Graduated as Doctor of Medicine ... He left Budapest in 1913 and entered the Technical University in Karlsruhe, Germany, in order to study Chemistry" (MEP).|
|1914-18||23-27||Medical officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army (K&B, 89). "His studies in Karlsruhe were interrupted in 1914 by the outbreak of the First World War; he joined the Austro-Hungarian army as a surgeon" (MEP).|
|1917||26||Theory of adsorption accepted as Ph.D. thesis in Physical Chemistry at University of Budapest thanks to the "complete ignorance of the professor of theoretical physics" (K&B, 93).|
|1918||27||"In 1918 he acted as a lecturer at the University of Budapest under Professor G. von Hevesy" (MEP).|
|1919||28||Baptized a Catholic (apparently for the sake of convenience; Scott, "Religious Reality," 86). "In September 1919 he again went to Karlsruhe, working on theoretical studies in reaction velocity" (MEP).|
|1920||29||Institute of Fibre Chemistry in Berlin-Dahlem (crystals, K&B, 97). "From September 1920 at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Textile Chemistry, Berlin, he established the structure of cellulose, devised the Rotating Crystal Method for X-ray diagrams" (MEP).|
|1923||32||Institute of Physcal Chemistry (reaction kinetics, K&B, 104). "In 1923 he became departmental Head under Haber at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical and Electro-Chemistry. He also became a Privatdozent at the University, Berlin" (MEP).|
|1926||35||Promoted to Professor (MEP).|
|1929||37||Made Life Member of Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physical Chemistry (TD, opposite title page). "After the second World War, the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft was re-named Max Planck Gesellschaft. Göttingen, Germany" (MEP).|
|1930||39||Joint paper with London, based on quantum-mechanical resonance and "inverse third power law" (K&B, 90).|
|1935||44||"I first met questions of philosophy when I came up against the Soviet ideology under Stalin which denied justification to the pursuit of science" (TD, 3). In this decade, Polanyi also moved from chemistry to economics and social analysis.|
|1936||45||USSR Economics: Fundamental Data, System and Spirit. Manchester University Press, 25 pp.|
|1938||47||"In 1938 (?) asked by Professor [George P. Thomson] to take charge of the British section of the Atomic Project. He declined, as all the names were those of refugees who were put on a 'hopeless project.' A grave misjudgment" (MEP). [MXM: Bill Scott and Monika Tobin could not confirm this claim by Magda.]|
|1940||49||The Contempt of Freedom. London: Watts and Company, 1940.|
|1944||53||Elected Fellow of the Royal Society|
|1949||58||"Made Foreign Life Member of the Max Planck Gessellschaft" (MEP).|
|1952||61||Completed the second series of Gifford Lectures, which formed the basis of Personal Knowledge (PK ix).|
|1953||62||"Science and Conscience," Religion in Life 23 (1953) 47-58.|
|1954||63||Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago (MEP)|
|1962-1963||71-72||"Fellow for the Center for Advanced Studies on Behavioral Science, Stanford University" (MEP).|
|1963||72||"Science and Religion: Separate Dimension or Common Ground?" Philosophy Today 7 (1963) 4-14.|
|1965-1966||74-75||Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University (TD, opposite title page; MEP dates it as 1965). Lectures in the fall; in residence in the spring (PM).|
|1968||77||"Life's Irreducible Structure," Science 160 (1968) 1308-1312, reprinted in K&B, 225-239.|
|1970||79||"Nuffield Gold Medal, Royal Society of Medicine" (MEP).|
|1971||80||"Visiting Professor at University of Texas in Austin" (MEP/PM).|
|1974||83||Scientific Thought and Social Reality: Essays by Michael Polanyi, edited by Fred Schwartz. New York: International Universities Press.|
|1975||84||Meaning, with Harry Prosch (dealing, in part , with aesthetics). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.|
|1976||85||Died February 22.|
|1977||William T. Scott, a physicist, began work on Polanyi's biography.|
|1997||Martin X. Moleski, SJ, a theologian, began to rewrite Scott's manuscript.|
|1999||Scott died on February 22--twenty-three years to the day after Polanyi died.|
|2005||Michael Polanyi: Scientist and Philosopher (Oxford University Press) by William T. Scott and Martin X. Moleski, SJ.|
Honorary Degrees, Special Lectures, and Fellowships
From the Hodgkin-Wigner obituary, 436.
- Honorary D.Sc.
- Princeton, 1946
- Leeds, 1947
- Manchester, 1966
- Cambridge, 1969
- Honorary LL.D.
- Aberdeen, 1959
- Notre Dame, 1965
- Wesleyan, 1965
- Toronto, 1967
Elected Life Member of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft, Berlin, which after World War II was renamed Max-Planck-Gesellschaft 1929.
Foreign Member of the Society Science, Letters and Arts, Naples, 1933.
Ridell Lecturer, University of London, 1945.
Lloyd Roberts Lecturer, University of Manchester, 1946.
Made Foreign Life Member of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, 1949.
Alexander White Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago, 1950.
Gifford Lecturer, University of Aberdeen, 1951-52.
Visiting Professor, University of Chicago, 1954.
Lindsay Lecturer, First Lindsay Memorial Lecture, Keele University, 1958.
Appointed Senior Research Fellow, Merton College, Oxford, 1959.
Eddington Lecturer, Cambridge University, 1960.
Gunning Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, 1960.
J. C. Bose Lecturer, Calcutta, 1960.
Distinguished Research Fellow, University of Virginia, 1961.
McEnnerny Lecturer, Berkeley, California, 1961.
Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, 1962.
Terry Lecturer, Yale, 1962.
Member of the Inter-national Academy of Philosophy of Science, 1962.
Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies on Behavioral Science, Stanford University, 1962-63.
James Duke Visiting Professor at Duke University, North Carolina, 1964.
Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies, Wesleyan University, 1965.
Visiting Professor, University of Chicago, 1967.
Nuffield Gold Medal, Royal Society of Medicine, 1970.
Visiting Professor, Austin University, Texas, 1971.