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Jacob Bronowski Quotes

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Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Man masters nature not by force but by understanding. This is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast over nature.”

Man masters nature not by force but by understanding. This is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast over nature.

— Jacob Bronowski



Jacob Bronowski Quote: “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.”

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


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Man masters nature not by force, but by understanding.”

Man masters nature not by force, but by understanding.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Man is a singular creature. He has a set of gifts which make him unique among the animals, so that unlike them, he is not a figure in the landscape, he is the shaper of the landscape.”

Man is a singular creature. He has a set of gifts which make him unique among the animals, so that unlike them, he is not a figure in the landscape, he is the shaper of the landscape.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Dream or nightmare, we have to live our experience as it is, and we have to live it awake. We live in a world which is penetrated through and through by science and which is both whole and real. We cannot turn it into a game simple by taking sides.”

Dream or nightmare, we have to live our experience as it is, and we have to live it awake. We live in a world which is penetrated through and through by science and which is both whole and real. We cannot turn it into a game simple by taking sides.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The symbol and the metaphor are as necessary to science as to poetry.”

The symbol and the metaphor are as necessary to science as to poetry.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Man is unique not because he does science, and his is unique not because he does art, but because science and art equally are expressions of his marvelous plasticity of mind.”

Man is unique not because he does science, and his is unique not because he does art, but because science and art equally are expressions of his marvelous plasticity of mind.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Science is the acceptance of what works and the rejection of what does not. That needs more courage than we might think.”

Science is the acceptance of what works and the rejection of what does not. That needs more courage than we might think.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation.”

The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her.”

Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Science is a tribute to what we can know, although we are fallible.”

Science is a tribute to what we can know, although we are fallible.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Dissent is the mark of freedom.”

Dissent is the mark of freedom.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “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.”

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.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy.”

There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The basis for poetry and scientific discovery is the ability to comprehend the unlike in the like and the like in the unlike.”

The basis for poetry and scientific discovery is the ability to comprehend the unlike in the like and the like in the unlike.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “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.”

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


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “There must be something unique about man because otherwise, evidently, the ducks would be lecturing about Konrad Lorenz, and the rats would be writing papers about B. F. Skinner.”

There must be something unique about man because otherwise, evidently, the ducks would be lecturing about Konrad Lorenz, and the rats would be writing papers about B. F. Skinner.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The force that makes the winter grow Its feathered hexagons of snow, and drives the bee to match at home Their calculated honeycomb, Is abacus and rose combined. An icy sweetness fills my mind, A sense that under thing and wing Lies, taut yet living, coiled, the spring .”

The force that makes the winter grow Its feathered hexagons of snow, and drives the bee to match at home Their calculated honeycomb, Is abacus and rose combined. An icy sweetness fills my mind, A sense that under thing and wing Lies, taut yet living, coiled, the spring .

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The paradox of knowledge is not confined to the small, atomic scale; on the contrary, it is as cogent on the scale of man, and even of the stars.”

The paradox of knowledge is not confined to the small, atomic scale; on the contrary, it is as cogent on the scale of man, and even of the stars.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “It is a mistake to think of creative activity as something unusual.”

It is a mistake to think of creative activity as something unusual.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “A man becomes creative, whether he is an artist or scientist, when he finds a new unity in the variety of nature. He does so by finding a likeness between things which were not thought alike before.”

A man becomes creative, whether he is an artist or scientist, when he finds a new unity in the variety of nature. He does so by finding a likeness between things which were not thought alike before.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Mass, time, magnetic moment, the unconscious: we have grown up with these symbolic concepts, so that we are startled to be told that man had once to create them for himself. He had indeed, and he has: for mass is not an intuition in the muscle, and time is not bought ready-made at the watchmaker’s.”

Mass, time, magnetic moment, the unconscious: we have grown up with these symbolic concepts, so that we are startled to be told that man had once to create them for himself. He had indeed, and he has: for mass is not an intuition in the muscle, and time is not bought ready-made at the watchmaker’s.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Knowledge is not a loose-leaf notebook of facts. Above all, it is a responsibility for the integrity of what we are, primarily of what we are as ethical creatures.”

Knowledge is not a loose-leaf notebook of facts. Above all, it is a responsibility for the integrity of what we are, primarily of what we are as ethical creatures.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The air in a man’s lungs 10,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000 atoms, so that sooner or later every one of us breathes an atom that has been breathed before by anyone you can think of who has ever lived – Michelangelo or George Washington or Moses.”

The air in a man’s lungs 10,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000 atoms, so that sooner or later every one of us breathes an atom that has been breathed before by anyone you can think of who has ever lived – Michelangelo or George Washington or Moses.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “There are three creative ideas which, each in its turn, have been central to science. They are the idea of order, the idea of causes, and the idea of chance.”

There are three creative ideas which, each in its turn, have been central to science. They are the idea of order, the idea of causes, and the idea of chance.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “A genius is a man who has two great ideas.”

A genius is a man who has two great ideas.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The human baby, the human being, is a mosaic of animal and angel.”

The human baby, the human being, is a mosaic of animal and angel.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Ask an impertinent question and you are on the way to the pertinent answer.”

Ask an impertinent question and you are on the way to the pertinent answer.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “We gain our ends only with the laws of nature; we control her only by understanding her laws.”

We gain our ends only with the laws of nature; we control her only by understanding her laws.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Astronomy is not the apex of science or of invention. But it is a test of the cast of temperament and mind that underlies a culture.”

Astronomy is not the apex of science or of invention. But it is a test of the cast of temperament and mind that underlies a culture.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Nations in their great ages have not been great in art or science, but in art and science.”

Nations in their great ages have not been great in art or science, but in art and science.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Whether our work is art or science or the daily work of society, it is only the form in which we explore our experience which is different.”

Whether our work is art or science or the daily work of society, it is only the form in which we explore our experience which is different.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “I call that brilliant sequence of cultural peaks The Ascent of Man.”

I call that brilliant sequence of cultural peaks The Ascent of Man.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The painter’s portrait and the physicist’s explanation are both rooted in reality, but they have been changed by the painter or the physicist into something more subtly imagined than the photographic appearance of things.”

The painter’s portrait and the physicist’s explanation are both rooted in reality, but they have been changed by the painter or the physicist into something more subtly imagined than the photographic appearance of things.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Certainty ends inquiry.”

Certainty ends inquiry.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “It is very much easier to divide your outlook on the world into two halves, to say that you know this belongs to the daily half and this belongs to the Sunday half.”

It is very much easier to divide your outlook on the world into two halves, to say that you know this belongs to the daily half and this belongs to the Sunday half.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “To imagine is the characteristic act, not of the poet’s mind, or the painter’s, or the scientist’s, but of the mind of man.”

To imagine is the characteristic act, not of the poet’s mind, or the painter’s, or the scientist’s, but of the mind of man.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses.”

All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “One aim of physical sciences had been to give an exact picture the material world. One achievement of physics in the twentieth century has been to prove that that aim is unattainable.”

One aim of physical sciences had been to give an exact picture the material world. One achievement of physics in the twentieth century has been to prove that that aim is unattainable.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “It is not the business of science to inherit the earth, but to inherit the moral imagination; because without that, man and beliefs and science will perish together.”

It is not the business of science to inherit the earth, but to inherit the moral imagination; because without that, man and beliefs and science will perish together.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The world today is made, it is powered by science; and for any man to abdicate an interest in science is to walk with open eyes towards slavery.”

The world today is made, it is powered by science; and for any man to abdicate an interest in science is to walk with open eyes towards slavery.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “A popular cliche in philosophy says that science is pure analysis or reductionism, like taking the rainbow to pieces; and art is pure synthesis, putting the rainbow together. This is not so. All imagination begins by analyzing nature.”

A popular cliche in philosophy says that science is pure analysis or reductionism, like taking the rainbow to pieces; and art is pure synthesis, putting the rainbow together. This is not so. All imagination begins by analyzing nature.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The largest single step in the ascent of man is the change from nomad to village agriculture.”

The largest single step in the ascent of man is the change from nomad to village agriculture.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “In the moment of appreciation we live again the moment when the creator saw and held the hidden likeness.”

In the moment of appreciation we live again the moment when the creator saw and held the hidden likeness.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “It’s a sort of curious phenomenon that God is somehow not quite as nice as the devil; the devil doesn’t punish you for behaving well, but God punishes you for behaving badly.”

It’s a sort of curious phenomenon that God is somehow not quite as nice as the devil; the devil doesn’t punish you for behaving well, but God punishes you for behaving badly.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “The men who made the Industrial Revolution are usually pictured as hardfaced businessmen with no other motive than self-interest. That is certainly wrong. For one thing, many of them were inventors who had come into business that way.”

The men who made the Industrial Revolution are usually pictured as hardfaced businessmen with no other motive than self-interest. That is certainly wrong. For one thing, many of them were inventors who had come into business that way.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them.”

To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal.”

Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Nature is more subtle, more deeply intertwined and more strangely integrated than any of our pictures of her than any of our errors. It is not merely that our pictures are not full enough; each of our pictures in the end turns out to be so basically mistaken that the marvel is that it worked at all.”

Nature is more subtle, more deeply intertwined and more strangely integrated than any of our pictures of her than any of our errors. It is not merely that our pictures are not full enough; each of our pictures in the end turns out to be so basically mistaken that the marvel is that it worked at all.

— Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski Quote: “Knowledge is not a loose leaf notebook of facts.”

Knowledge is not a loose leaf notebook of facts.

— Jacob Bronowski

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