Michael and Karl Polanyi


Michael and Karl Polanyi: brothers bonded together infamily affection, separated by differences in social philosophy.Such a summarizing statement, while much too facile, offersa beginning point for reflection much like a drawn caricaturehighlights significant features in a subject while ignoring thetelling details that constitute a true physiognomy. The point of thereflection set forth in this essay is to focus on Michael’s political,economic, and social thought, rather neglected today, by contrastingit with Karl’s social philosophy, which is currently enjoyingrenewed interest. My aim, however, is not to use the differencesin Karl’s thought simply as a foil for appreciating Michael’ssocial philosophy, for each thinker’s ideas are impressive andworthy of respect on their own. Rather, I wish to acknowledgefrom the start that my primary objective is to illuminate Michael’ssocial thought through a comparative study.
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