Monday, September 11, 2006

The Ascent of Man

For some reason, I couldn't find this on the U.S. version of Amazon? Strange, my library has it.

I still have not watched the first and last DVD of this series, but I must say how fascinating I found this. Not so much just the content - I think most or all of this I'm familiar with - but the presentation. Also, several times, and at first I thought I might have been listening to too much Alan Watt (I'll have to write some thoughts on what I know/think about his stuff at some point - I'm not really one for the black helicopter crowd, so don't follow that link and think I believe all that stuff - like I said, I'll have to write more on that later) or reflecting on RAW or something, because I kept seeing some rather esoteric references creeping in. Then, later, he specifically names the Freemasons (I forget the exact context). Very odd. I know little about Bronowski, but wonder just what sort of interests and affiliations he had beyond the usual science ones...

Then, to top it off, there was a RAW-like call for humility - we can never know anything with final certainty, and thinking that leads to folly - following Godwin's Law, Hitler and the Nazis are used as an example. It's pretty powerful and he's not just talking about religions. The way RAW puts it this way at times: “Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.” And other times, more to the point: “If you think you know what the hell is going on, you're probably full of shit.” Both quotes are from here. Of course, these ideas are not all that novel, they've been expressed elsewhere, but J. Bronowski's presentation and RAW's turn of phrase do it more justice. :)

Well, if you gloss over the rather odd esotericism - if you've seen Sagan's Cosmos, this will evoke some similarities. Jacob Bronowski has a style that reminds me of Attenborough, but maybe that's just style of that era and that source (BBC).

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