Living Data

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned
that this program contains images and voices of deceased persons.

Living Data

2014 Conversations

Disclaimers, Copyrights and Citations

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"Every interaction is a risk you might be transformed.
Creation is conversation, as is human life."
Jonathan Marshall, Anthropologist


Codes of sense and reason

Conversation recorded Thursday 20th Feb 2014
Hosted by the Climate Change Cluster (C3)
University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)
Camera: Sebastian Reategui
Editing: Lisa Roberts

How do we understand the natural world?

UTS scientist Christian Evenhuisand artists Lisa Roberts,Leanne Thompson,Caterina Mocciola,Catherine Nolanand Paula Haveytalk about the creative nature of research. Caterina is a Doctor of Letters with an interest in languages. She opens up discussion of the value of codified languages in art and science for communicating what we experience and observe. Leanne asks why tacit knowledge is not so well recognised in academia as it is in the arts.

"Tacit knowledge" means what we know from experience. The term was introduced into philosophy by Hungarian polymath Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) in his disserataition Personal Knowledge (1958). In a later work The Tacit Dimension (1966) he asserts that "we can know more than we can tell" and that all knowledge is rooted in tacit knowledge.

The tacit dimension of scientific understanding is expressed by Wilbert Veit Jr in his book aout the process of photosynthesis, The Music of Sunlight (2000).

[W]hat we see, hear and touch with our unaided senses, you know, with our eyes, our ears and our skin [is the gross dimension of reality]. But the molecular level ....that we see through deductive logic. We have to do experiments to try and figure out what's happening there and then we use the language of chemisty to talk about it. But I'll tell you a secret. There's another window into the molecular level. It's what I call the experiential approach...the magnifier of the mind... when your mind merges with an electron, everything happening to that electron is perceived through the lens of your own mind.

Wilbert Veit, Jr. The Music of Sunlight (2000) pp. 4-7