First Advisor

Christopher Brooks

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Arts and Letters and University Honors


Arts & Letters




Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) -- Criticism and interpretation, Dukhobors -- Social life and customs, Tacit knowledge, Theory of Knowledge (Religion), Science -- Philosophy




The relationship between Michael Polanyi’s concept of tacit knowledge and religion is a topic that is rarely explored. Applying tacit knowledge to the study of religion and spirituality allows us to think about how we connect with the world and how we address the concern of what one feels to be true of their existence, or existential intuition. In the latter half of the 1800s the Russian prince turned anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, wrote extensively on the theory of mutually beneficial cooperation, or mutual aid, as being one of the most important factors of evolution. As Kropotkin began writing his series of essays, a group of spiritual folk-Christians known as the Doukhobors were living communally in the Transcaucasian region of the Russian Empire. Their beliefs and practices, which still exist today, included pacifism, vegetarianism, commitment to hard work, and rejection of secular governments. Within Doukhobor epistemology, the community takes responsibility for teaching their history not only to their children but also amongst themselves. This communal and traditional way to share ways of knowing contains unique tacit knowledge of how a Doukhobor understands themself and the world. The practice of mutual aid within the Doukhobor community is amplified because it is part of their spiritual tacit knowledge and epistemology.


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