65 Jacob Bronowski Quotes On Success In Life

Jacob Bronowski was a Polish-British mathematician and historian. He is best known for developing a humanistic approach to science, and as the presenter and writer of the thirteen-part 1973 BBC television documentary series, and accompanying book, The Ascent of Man, which led to his regard as “one of the world’s most celebrated intellectuals”. These Jacob Bronowski quotes will motivate you.

Best Jacob Bronowski Quotes

  1. “Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  2. “Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  3. “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
  4. “There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  5. “Man masters nature not by force, but by understanding” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  6. “To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  7. “No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power. … The time has come to consider how we might bring about a separation, as complete as possible, between Science and Government in all countries. I call this the disestablishment of science, in the same sense in which the churches have been disestablished and have become independent of the state.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  8. “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
  9. “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
  10. “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
  11. “We have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye … The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  12. “Dissent is the mark of freedom.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  13. “The Principle of Tolerance, fixed once for all the realization that all knowledge is limited. It is an irony of history that at the very time when this was being worked out, there should rise, under Hitler in Germany and other tyrants elsewhere, a counter-conception: a principle of monstrous certainty. When the future looks back on the 1930’s, it will think of them as a crucial confrontation of culture as I have been expounding it – the ascent of man against the throwback to the despots’ belief that they have absolute certainty.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  14. “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
  15. “Man is not the most majestic of the creatures; long before the mammals even, the dinosaurs were far more splendid. But he has what no other animal possesses: a jigsaw of faculties, which alone, over three thousand million years of life, made him creative. Every animal leaves traces of what he was. Man alone leaves traces of what he created.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  16. “Certainty ends inquiry.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  17. “The most remarkable discovery made by scientists is science itself. The discovery must be compared in importance with the invention of cave-painting and of writing. Like these earlier human creations, science is an attempt to control our surroundings by entering into them and understanding them from inside. And like them, science has surely made a critical step in human development which cannot be reversed. We cannot conceive a future society without science.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  18. “Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  19. “Dissent is the native activity of the scientist, and it has got him into a good deal of trouble in the last years. But if that is cut off, what is left will not be a scientist. And I doubt whether it will be a man.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  20. “Science is the acceptance of what works and the rejection of what does not. That needs more courage than we might think.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  21. “Every animal leaves traces of what it was; man alone leaves traces of what he created.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  22. “By the worldly standards of public life, all scholars in their work are of course oddly virtuous. They do not make wild claims, they do not cheat, they do not try to persuade at any cost, they appeal neither to prejudice nor to authority, they are often frank about their ignorance, their disputes are fairly decorous, they do not confuse what is being argued with race, politics, sex or age, they listen patiently to the young and to the old who both know everything. These are the general virtues of scholarship, and they are peculiarly the virtues of science.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  23. “The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  24. “The richness of human life is that we have many lives, we live the events that do not happen (and some that cannot) as vividly as those that do, and if thereby we die a thousand deaths, that is the price we pay…” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  25. “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
  26. “You will die but the carbon will not; its career does not end with you. It will return to the soil, and there a plant may take it up again in time, sending it once more on a cycle of plant and animal life.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  27. “No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  28. “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
  29. “Satire is not a social dynamite. But it is a social indicator: it shows that new men are knocking at the door.” ~ Jacob Bronowski Quotes
  30. “The world is made up of people who never quite get into the first team and who just miss the prizes at the flower show.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  31. “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
  32. “Ask an impertinent question and you are on the way to the pertinent answer.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  33. “Da Vinci was as great a mechanic and inventor as were Newton and his friends. Yet a glance at his notebooks shows us that what fascinated him about nature was its variety, its infinite adaptability, the fitness and the individuality of all its parts. By contrast what made astronomy a pleasure to Newton was its unity, its singleness, its model of a nature in which the diversified parts were mere disguises for the same blank atoms.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  34. “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
  35. “[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
  36. “Power is the by-product of understanding.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  37. “The most remarkable discovery ever made by scientists is science itself. The discovery must be compared in importance with the invention of cave-painting and of writing.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  38. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about bombs or the intelligence quotients of one race as against another if a man is a scientist, like me, he’ll always say Publish and be damned.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  39. “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
  40. “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
  41. “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
  42. “A theory in its day helps to solve the problems of the day.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  43. “The discoveries of science, the works of art are explorations – more, are explosions, of a hidden likeness. The discoverer or artist presents in them two aspects of nature and fuses them into one. This is the act of creation, in which an original thought is born, and it is the same act in original science and original art.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  44. “The values by which we are to survive are not rules for just and unjust conduct, but are those deeper illuminations in whose light justice and injustice, good and evil, means and ends are seen in fearful sharpness of outline.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  45. “We are all shot through with enough motives to make a massacre, any day of the week that we want to give them their head.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  46. “Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  47. “The symbol and the metaphor are as necessary to science as to poetry.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  48. “When Da Vinci wanted an effect, he willed, he planned the means to make it happen: that was the purpose of his machines. But the machines of Newton … are means not for doing but for observing. He saw an effect, and he looked for its cause.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  49. “It is a mistake to think of creative activity as something unusual” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  50. “Beyond all our actions stands the larger shadow: How are we to choose between what we have been taught to think right and something else which manifestly succeeds?” ~ Jacob Bronowski Quotes
  51. “I set out to show that there exists single creative activity,which is displayed alike in the arts and in the sciences.It is wrong to think of science as a mechanical record of facts, and it is wrong to think of the arts as remote and private fancies. What makes each human, what makes them universal, is the stamp of the creative mind.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  52. “Einstein was a man who could ask immensely simple questions. And what his work showed is that when the answers are simple too, then you can hear God thinking.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  53. “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
  54. “The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  55. “Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  56. “Nations in their great ages have not been great in art or science, but in art and science.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  57. “That series of inventions by which man from age to age has remade his environment is a different kind of evolution — not biological, but cultural evolution . . . “The Ascent of Man.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  58. “By the worldly standards of public life, all scholars in their work are of course oddly virtuous. They do not make wild claims, they do not cheat, they do not try to persuade at any cost, they appeal neither to prejudice nor to authority . . .” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  59. “We receive experience from nature in a series of messages. From these messages we extract a content of information: that is, we decode the messages in some way. And from this code of information we then make a basic vocabulary of concepts and a basic grammar of laws, which jointly describe the inner organization that nature translates into the happenings and the appearances we meet.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  60. “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
  61. “A genius is a man who has two great ideas.” ~ Jacob Bronowski

  62. “We gain our ends only with the laws of nature; we control her only by understanding her laws.” ~ Jacob Bronowski
  63. “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
  64. “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
  65. “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

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