Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Jacob Bronowski

Polish-born British-American Scientist and Mathematician

"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 on nature."

"That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to the pertinent answer."

"Power is the by-product of understanding."

"The great poem and the deep theorem are new to every reader, and yet are his own experiences, because he himself recreates them."

"We are all afraid - for our confidence, for the future, for the world. That is the nature of the human imagination. Yet every man, every civilization has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do. The personal commitment and the emotional commitment working together as one, has made the Ascent of Man."

"Einstein was a man who could ask immensely simple questions."

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

"We have to understand the world can only be grasped by an action, not by contemplation. . . . 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 hand is the cutting edge of the mind."

"Human knowledge is personal and responsible, an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty."

"Man masters nature not by force but by understanding."

"The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation ... The hand is the cutting edge of the mind."

"There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility."

"No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power. "

"We are all afraid for our confidence, for the future, for the world. That is the nature of the human imagination. Yet every man, every civilization, has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do. "

"Every animal leaves traces of what it was; man alone leaves traces of what he created. "

"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. "

"Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty."

"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."

"The Principle of Uncertainty is a bad name. In science or outside of it we are not uncertain; our knowledge is merely confined, within a certain tolerance. We should call it the Principle of Tolerance. "

"Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime."