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The Ascent of Man The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski
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“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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, The Ascent of Man
“يترك كل حيوان من الأثار ما يدل على مكانه , اما الانسان فيترك اثار ما ابدعه”
Jacob Bronowski, 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, 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, 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, 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, The Ascent of Man
“There are two parts to the human dilemma. One is the belief that the end justifies the means. That push-button philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering, has become the monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human spirit: the assertion of dogma that closes the mind, and turns a nation, a civilization, into a regiment of ghosts--obedient ghosts or tortured ghosts.”
Jacob Bronowski, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, The Ascent of Man
“ان المعرفة قدرنا”
Jacob Bronowski, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, The Ascent of Man
“Knowledge … is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.”
Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man
“W. B. Yeats”
Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man
“Charles Darwin”
Jacob Bronowski, 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, The Ascent of Man
“The democracy of the intellect comes from the printed book…”
Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man

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