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Tacit Knowledge in the Arts, Science and Business

Wellcome Trust LSE Literary Festival discussion

Date: Monday 24 February 2014 
Time: 6-7.30pm
Venue: Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
Speakers: Professor Harry Collins, Professor Roger Kneebone, Professor Fiona Sampson
Chair: Richard Bronk

The modern paradigm of knowledge is explicit knowledge that something is the case; but much knowledge is practical knowledge of how to do things – how to ride a bicycle, play a violin, write poetry or remove an appendix– and such knowledge is often neither de facto explicit in text books nor even in theory fully explicable and transferable in pure conceptual terms. Tacit know-how may be muscular (or somatic) knowledge gained by practice and example; or it may be knowledge that we can only acquire through participation in shared linguistic and (often local) social contexts. This panel discussion will help elucidate the nature of tacit knowledge in art, science and the economy.

The following are some of the philosophical and practical questions likely to be covered: if we allow non-conceptual and unconscious know-how to count as knowledge, can migratory birds with their astonishing navigational ability be said to have knowledge quite as much as trained surgeons and experienced cyclists? If the tacit know-how involved in creative writing, or in finding a surgical incision point, can only be learnt by socializing with experienced practitioners, what is the role for remote Internet learning or computer simulations? Do robots solve the problem of tacit knowledge by encoding know-how digitally? And to what extent do market prices reflect knowledge that can neither be codified nor shared through electronic information feeds?

Harry Collins is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and director of the Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise and Science at Cardiff University. He has worked for many years on the sociology of scientific knowledge, and is author of Tacit and Explicit Knowledge (University of Chicago Press, 2010). He is a fellow of the British Academy.

Roger Kneebone (@ProfKneebone) trained as a trauma surgeon and has experience as a GP, but has since 2003 worked on innovative training and simulation techniques for surgery. His recent research has focused on the synergies between science and the arts, and on the role of tacit knowledge in surgery and medicine. He is a professor in the Department of Surgery and Medicine at Imperial College London and Engagement Fellow of the Wellcome Trust.

Fiona Sampson trained as a concert violinist and is now an acclaimed poet. She has published more than twenty-five books of poetry, criticism and philosophy of language, and received the Newdigate Prize, a Cholmondeley Award and Writer’s Awards from the Arts Councils of England and of Wales as well as prizes in Macedonia and the US. She has twice been shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot and Forward Prizes. Published in more than thirty languages, she the editor of Poem and professor of poetry at the University of Roehampton.

Richard Bronk is a Visiting Fellow at LSE and author of The Romantic Economist.

This event will be followed by a drinks reception and then a poetry reading by Fiona Sampson at 8.15pm, for which tickets must be separately booked.

This event is supported by The Wellcome Trust.

This event forms part of LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2014, taking place from Monday 24 February - Saturday 1 March 2014, with the theme 'Reflections'.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #LSElitfest


A podcast of this event is available to download from Tacit Knowledge in the Arts, Science and Business

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This event has been certified for CPD purposes by the CPD Certification Service. Self-Assessment Record forms will be made available for delegates wishing to record further learning and knowledge enhancement for Continuing Personal and Professional Development (CPD) purposes. For delegates who wish to obtain a CPD Certificate of Attendance, it is the responsibility of delegates to register their details with a LSE steward at the end of the event and as of 1 September 2014 a certificate will be sent within 28 days of the date of the event attended by the CPD Certification Service.  If a delegate fails to register their details at the event, it will not prove possible to issue a certificate. (For queries relating to CPD Certificates of attendance after a request please phone 0208 840 4383 or email info@cpduk.co.uk).

LSE Literary Festival 2014