The Ascent of Man


I see the Discovery Science channel is showing Jacob Bronowski's 1973 miniseries The Ascent of Man. It's a classic work of science, history, and philosophy, eloquently and beautifully created, and certainly Bronowski's masterpiece, despite several small flaws. I'm a great admirer of Bronowski (about whom I wrote for Liberty magazine in December, 2002). One astounding thing about this 13-hour miniseries is that it was almost entirely performed extemporaneously: the director pointed the camera at Bronowski, and he just talked. It's a magnificent achievement, and I encourage our readers to tune in!


That is cool. My wife and I watched Bronowski’s whole series on fuzzy TV out in the country when it came out. I had been a teaching assistant in Western Civ at KU just a few years before, and I found The Ascent of Man a formative and culminating experience. Thanks for letting us know about this.

And the screenshot is from the most powerful moment in the whole series.

Bronowski was a friend of Carl Sagan’s, and it’s easy to see the influence of “The Ascent of Man” on Sagan’s famous TV series “Cosmos”. If I recall correctly, I do have a few quibbles with Bronowski’s episode on special relativity, but they are minor.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on October 9, 2004 11:13 PM.

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