Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ivan Illich

Austrian Philosopher, Roman Catholic Priest and "Maverick Social Critic"

"Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting."

"A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at anytime in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known."

"In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy."

"The public school has become the established church of secular society."

"There is no greater distance than that between a man in prayer and God."

"Modern medicine is a negation of health. It isn't organized to serve human health, but only itself, as an institution. It makes more people sick than it heals."

"We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation. "

"Effective health care depends on self-care; this fact is currently heralded as if it were a discovery. "

"Together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school."

"The re-establishment of an ecological balance depends on the ability of society to counteract the progressive materialization of values. The ecological balance cannot be re-established unless we recognize again that only persons have ends and only persons can work towards them."

"It takes more time and effort and delicacy to learn the silence of a people than to learn its sounds. Some people have a special gift for this. Perhaps this explains why some missionaries, notwithstanding their efforts, never come to speak properly, to communicate delicately through silences. Although they ''speak with the accent of natives'' they remain forever thousands of miles away. The learning of the grammar of silence is an art much more difficult to learn than the grammar of sounds."

"School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is."

"School divides life into two segments, which are increasingly of comparable length. As much as anything else, schooling implies custodial care for persons who are declared undesirable elsewhere by the simple fact that a school has been built to serve them. "

"Leadership does not depend on being right."