Quotes from The Ascent of Man

Jacob Bronowski ·  520 pages

Rating: (5K votes)


“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“Many theories of the ancient world seem terribly childish today, a hodge-podge of fables and false comparisons.But our theories will seem childish five-hundred years from now.Every theory is based on some analogy, and sooner or later the theory fails because the analogy turns out to be false. A theory in its day helps to solve the problems of the day.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“Fifty years from now if an understanding of man's origins, his evolution, his history, his progress is not in the common place of the school books we shall not exist.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man



“يترك كل حيوان من الأثار ما يدل على مكانه , اما الانسان فيترك اثار ما ابدعه”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to the pertinent answer.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“we must always remember that the real content of evolution (biological as well as cultural) is the elaboration of new behaviour.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“[John] Dalton was a man of regular habits. For fifty-seven years he walked out of Manchester every day; he measured the rainfall, the temperature—a singularly monotonous enterprise in this climate. Of all that mass of data, nothing whatever came. But of the one searching, almost childlike question about the weights that enter the construction of these simple molecules—out of that came modern atomic theory. That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to the pertinent answer.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“Man is unique not because he does science, and he is unique not because he does art, but because science and art equally are expressions of his marvellous plasticity of mind.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man



“I am infinitely saddened to find myself suddenly surrounded in the west by a sense of terrible loss of nerve, a retreat from knowledge into–into what? Into Zen Buddhism; into falsely profound questions … into extrasensory perception and mystery. They do not lie along the line of what we are now able to know if we devote ourselves to it: an understanding of man himself.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“We cannot hope to recapture today the terror that the mounted horse struck into the Middle East and Eastern Europe when it first appeared. That is because there is a difference of scale which I can only compare with the arrival of tanks in Poland in 1939, sweeping all before them. I believe that the importance of the horse in European history has always been underrated. In a sense, warfare was created by the horse, as a nomad activity. That is what the Huns brought, that is what the Phrygians brought, that is what finally the Mongols brought, and brought to a climax under Genghis Khan much later. In particular, the mobile hordes transformed the organisation of battle. They conceived a different strategy of war – a strategy that is like a war game; how, warmakers love to play games!”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“The fact is that there are two traditions of explanation that march side by side in the ascent of man. One is the analysis of the physical structure of the world. The other is the study of the processes of life: their delicacy, their diversity, the wavering cycles from life to death in the individual and in the species. And these traditions do not come together until the theory of evolution; because until then there is a paradox which cannot be resolved, which cannot be begun, about life. The”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“And Mendeleev’s guesses showed that induction is a more subtle process in the hands of a scientist than Bacon and other philosophers supposed. In science we do not simply march along a linear progression of known instances to unknown ones. Rather, we work as in a crossword puzzle, scanning two separate progressions for the points at which they intersect: that is where the unknown instances should be in hiding. Mendeleev scanned the progression of atomic weights in the columns, and the family likenesses in the rows, to pinpoint the missing elements at their intersections. By doing so, he made practical predictions, and he also made manifest (what is still poorly understood) how scientists actually carry out the process of induction. Very”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“The genius of men like Newton and Einstein lies in that: they ask transparent, innocent questions which turn out to have catastrophic answers. The poet William Cowper called Newton a ‘childlike sage’ for that quality, and the description perfectly hits the air of surprise at the world that Einstein carried in his face. Whether he talked about riding a beam of light or falling through space, Einstein was always full of beautiful, simple illustrations of such principles, and I shall take a leaf out of his book. I go to the bottom of the clocktower, and get into the tram he used to take every day on his way to work as a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office. The”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man



“My view is that diversity is the breath of life, and we must not abandon that for any single form which happens to catch our fancy – even our genetic fancy. Cloning is the stabilisation of one form, and that runs against the whole current of creation – of human creation above all. Evolution is founded in variety and creates diversity; and of all animals, man is most creative because he carries and expresses the largest store of variety. Every attempt to make us uniform, biologically, emotionally, or intellectually, is a betrayal of the evolutionary thrust that has made man its apex. Yet”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“It has a special biological character. Let us take one simple, down-to-earth criterion for that: we are the only species in which the female has orgasms. That is remarkable, but it is so. It is a mark of the fact that in general there is much less difference between men and women (in the biological sense and in sexual behaviour) than there is in other species. That may seem a strange thing to say. But to the gorilla and the chimpanzee, where there are enormous differences between male and female, it would be obvious. In the language of biology, sexual dimorphism is small in the human species. So”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“Now if Newton had been a very plain, very dull, very matter-of-fact man, all that would be easily explicable. But I must make you see that he was not. He was really a most extraordinary, wild character. He practised alchemy. In secret, he wrote immense tomes about the Book of Revelation. He was convinced that the law of inverse squares was really already to be found in Pythagoras. And for such a man, who in private was full of these wild metaphysical and mystical speculations, to hold this public face and say, ‘I make no hypotheses’ – that is an extraordinary expression of his secret character. William Wordsworth in The Prelude has a vivid phrase, Newton, with his prism and silent face, which sees and says it exactly. Well,”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“We are nature's unique experiment to make the rational intelligence prove itself sounder than the reflex. Knowledge is our destiny”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“I have chosen to talk about one of the founder fathers of twentieth-century physics, Niels Bohr, because in both these respects he was a consummate artist. He had no ready-made answers. He used to begin his lecture courses by saying to his students, ‘Every sentence that I utter should be regarded by you not as an assertion but as a question’. What he questioned was the structure of the world. And the people that he worked with, when young and old (he was still penetrating in his seventies), were others who were taking the world to pieces, thinking it out, and putting it together. He”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man



“The University is a Mecca to which students come with something less than perfect faith. It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known but to question it.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“There is one gift above all others that makes man unique among the animals, and it is the gift displayed everywhere here: his immense pleasure in exercising and pushing forward his own skill.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“The most powerful drive in the ascent of man is his pleasure in his own skill. He loves to do what he does well and, having done it well, he loves to do it better. You see it in his science. You see it in the magnificence with which he carves and builds, the loving care, the gaiety, the effrontery. The monuments are supposed to commemorate kings and religions, heroes, dogmas, but in the end the man they commemorate is the builder.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“There are many gifts that are unique in man; but at the centre of them all, the root from which all knowledge grows, lies the ability to draw conclusions from what we see to what we do not see, to move our minds through space and time, and to recognise ourselves in the past on the steps to the present. All over these caves the print of the hand says: ‘This is my mark. This is man.”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


“The democracy of the intellect comes from the printed book…”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man



“The Renaissance established the dignity of man. The Industrial Revolution established the unity of nature. That”
― Jacob Bronowski, quote from The Ascent of Man


About the author

Jacob Bronowski
Born place: in Łódź, Poland
Born date January 18, 1908
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“Lock and load, everyone,” Lucan said, casting a grave look at the rest of them. “It’s gonna be a long, bloody night.”
― Lara Adrian, quote from Darker After Midnight


“You know how you finish a bag of chips and you hate yourself? You know you’ve done nothing good for yourself. That’s the same feeling, and you know it is, after some digital binge. You feel wasted and hollow and diminished.”
― Dave Eggers, quote from The Circle


“I might have to drink the blood of animals to stay alive, but I would never feast on one of my own kind, no matter what Mr.Crepsley said, or hows much my belly growled.”
― Darren Shan, quote from The Vampire's Assistant


“nascent, lifeless earth out of cosmic space—their”
― H.P. Lovecraft, quote from At the Mountains of Madness


“The bookstore was a parking lot for used graveyards. Thousands of graveyards were parked in rows like cars. Most of the books were out of print, and no one wanted to read them any more and the people who had read the books had died or forgotten about them, but through the organic process of music the books had become virgins again.”
― Richard Brautigan, quote from Trout Fishing in America


Interesting books

The Talented Mr. Ripley
(40.9K)
The Talented Mr. Rip...
by Patricia Highsmith
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
(118.8K)
The Audacity of Hope...
by Barack Obama
Use of Weapons
(31.4K)
Use of Weapons
by Iain M. Banks
Revolution
(25.6K)
Revolution
by Jennifer Donnelly
The Foundation Trilogy
(78.7K)
The Foundation Trilo...
by Isaac Asimov
The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
(49.6K)
The Watsons Go to Bi...
by Christopher Paul Curtis

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.