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Man is a singular creature. He has certain gifts which make him unique among the animals. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 1/13: Lower Than the Angels, BBC 1973
Every landscape in the world is full of these exact and beautiful adaptations. ibid.
But Nature, that is evolution, has not fitted man into any specific environment. ibid.
His imagination, his reason, his emotional subtlety and toughness make it possible for him not to accept the environment but to change it. ibid.
I call that brilliant series of cultural peaks The Ascent of Man. ibid.
It’s almost certain now that man first evolved in Africa near the Equator. ibid.
Grant’s gazelle: yet that lovely leap never took it out of the savannah. ibid.
Two million years ago the first certain ancestor of man walked with a foot which is almost indistinguishable from the foot of modern man. ibid.
The human being is a mosaic of animal and angel. ibid.
With that larger brain, the ancestors of man made two inventions ... stone tools ... [and] social organisation. ibid.
The changes in homo erectus are substantial over a million years but they seem gradual. ibid.
He has what no other possesses: a jigsaw of faculties which alone over three thousand millions years of life make him creative. ibid.
Hunting requires conscious planning and organisation by means of language as well as special weapons. ibid.
Man moved into the north just when the climate there was turning to ice. ibid.
The history of man is divided very unequally. There is his biological evolution ... And then there is his cultural history. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 2/13: The Harvest of the Seasons
It’s usually called the agricultural revolution. But I think it’s something much wider – the biological revolution. ibid.
It became necessary for man to settle. ibid.
Before 8,000 B.C. wheat was not the luxuriant plant it is today. ibid.
The Bible is a curious history: part folklore and part record. History is of course written by the victors. ibid.
Agriculture creates a technology from which all physics, all science, takes off. ibid.
The most powerful invention in all agriculture is of course the plough. ibid.
The wheel is found for the first time before 3,000 B.C. and from then on the wheel and the axle become the taproot from which invention grows. ibid.
How is it that the machine in its modern form now seems just a threat? ibid.
War – organised war – is not a human instinct. It is a highly planed and cooperative form of theft. ibid.
War, theft, is not a permanent state that can be maintained. ibid.
The Earth has existed for more than four thousand million years. Through all this time it has been shaped and changed by two kinds of action: the hidden forces within the Earth ... And on the surface the erosion of snow and rain and storm and stream and ocean and sun and wind have carved out a natural architecture. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 3/13: The Grain in the Stone
Why did civilisation begin so much later in the new world than in the world? ibid.
Sometimes the stone had a natural grain ... The notion of discovering an underlying structure in matter is man’s basic concept for exploring Nature. ibid.
A city is stones and a city is people. ibid.
At the heart of the terraced culture is the system of irrigation. ibid.
What is a city? It is a community which lives on a base of agriculture. ibid.
The arch is an engineering invention. ibid.
They called themselves free masons as early as the fourteenth century. ibid.
In one sense everything we discover is already there. ibid.
The most powerful drive in the ascent of man is his pleasure in his own skill. ibid.
Sulphur and mercury are the two elements of which the alchemists thought the universe was composed. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 4/13: The Hidden Structure
Physics is the knife that cuts into the grain of Nature. ibid.
Bronze becomes from this time onwards a material for all purposes: the plastic of its age. ibid.
By 1,000 B.C. steel is being made in India. ibid.
Iron is a later discovery than copper because at every stage it needs more heat. ibid.
The sword is the weapon of the samurai. ibid.
Gold is the universal prize in all countries, in all cultures, and in all ages. ibid.
The first written reference we have to alchemy is just over two thousand years old and it comes from China. ibid.
The belief of the ancients that all cures must come either from plants or from animals – a kind of vitalism. Now the alchemists introduced minerals into medicine – salt for example. ibid.
The new scourge – syphilis. To this day we don’t know where syphilis came from. ibid.
Fire is the alchemist’s element. ibid.
Fire is a process of transformation and change by which material elements are rejoined into new combinations. ibid.
Arithmetic-like language begins in legend. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 5/13: Music of the Spheres
Numbers are the language of Nature. Pythagoras found a basic relation between music harmony and mathematics. ibid.
For a long time the astrolabe was the pocket watch and the slide rule of the world. ibid.
Easter Island ... The question about these statues is – why were they all made alike? Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 6/13: The Starry Messenger
A civilisation which failed to take the first step on the ascent of rational knowledge. ibid.
Copernicus put the sun at the centre of the heavens. ibid.
In 1600 the Mediterranean was still the centre of the world, and Venice was the hub of the Mediterranean. ibid.
Galileo is the creator of the modern scientific method. ibid.
Galileo seems to me to have been strangely innocent about the world of politics. ibid.
The trial of Galileo in 1633: but every political trial has a long hidden history of what went on behind the scenes. ibid.