The role of tacit knowledge at different stages of scientific research: on the materials of opinions and memories outstanding scientists of the 20th century




The article analyzed the role of implicit knowledge in scientific researches. Implicit knowledge has been actively studied by epistemologists during the XX century. Based on the results of these studies, scientists and philosophers concluded, in particular, that implicit knowledge takes some part in all stages of scientific research activity, but almost no one has analyzed the specifics of the role and functioning of implicit knowledge at different stages. We believe that one of the meaningful sources of information about the participation of tacit knowledge in the scientific process can undoubtedly be considered the reflections on this topic of the most prominent scientists. Therefore, the purpose of the work is to analyze the role and functions of tacit knowledge at various stages of the scientific research process, based on the material of self-analysis and self-observation of researchers-scientists who took a direct part in scientific and cognitive activities. The main methods in our work were analysis, synthesis, comparison, as well as historical and genetic methods. Since the vast majority of researchers paid attention only to the final and most creative stage of the discovery of new knowledge and the role of unconscious components in this process, we chose a different path – the subject of our analysis became the earliest and least researched stages of finding and formulating a research problem, as well as the stage of obtaining empirical data. Main results. Based on the reasoning of outstanding scientists of the 20th century – A. Einstein, A. Poincare, J. Hadamard, one can be sure that the deep prerequisites of the theoretical choice have their origin in intuitively obvious ideas for a wide range of the scientific community about the structure and characteristics of reality, which are “embedded” in the scientific theory. The most fundamental fragments of tacit knowledge take part in this process, which are equally determined by the cultural and historical environment, as well as by the personal characteristics and passions of a particular scientist. Such implicit knowledge forms the basis of the “picture of the Universe” described by M. Polanyi. That is why, when analyzing the process of choosing a theoretical base for further research, it is always necessary to remember the subjective “carrier” of the theory, its creator and interpreter, about the specific scientist who makes the choice in favor of a certain theoretical construction. It should be noted that the initial selection of the problem for research is carried out unconsciously from the material that is in an implicit form, so the choice can be influenced by displaced layers of implicit knowledge that are beyond the control of consciousness. Sometimes repressed implicit knowledge becomes the cause of a negative choice, even rejection of one or another theoretical construction, as well as even “unfounded” forgetting of correctly posed problems, which A. Poincare repeatedly mentioned. In the process of obtaining empirical data, unconscious elements can actively interfere with the activity of the sense organs and thus influence the results of a purely physiological process of perception. Some researchers even believed that the process of scientific perception and observation is a simultaneous combination of perception and “initial” interpretation, which, unlike the interpretation of fact as a rational procedure, is not explicitly formulated. The analysis made it possible to come to the following conclusions. Acquaintance with the works of J. Hadamard, A. Poincare and other scientists of the 20th century proved that tacit knowledge is included in scientific and cognitive activity at its very first stages. At the beginning of the research, the most active is the deep layer of implicit knowledge – prerequisite, worldview and others that are part of the general picture of the Universe. Their functioning in conjunction with purposeful logical thinking stimulates the activation of new, diverse types of implicit knowledge. In the process of treatment factual information, one of the most important and very essential for cognitive activity advantages of tacit knowledge is realized – the possibility of simultaneously processing information at several levels of the unconscious and using various types of tacit knowledge. Therefore, further analysis of the works of outstanding scientists, which in one or another way relate to the process of obtaining new knowledge, will make it possible to more thoroughly investigate the problem of implicit knowledge as an element of the unconscious cognitive system of a person.