Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
Search Quotes Search Sages Search Chapters

Ivan Illich

1926 – 2002 CE

"an archaeologist of ideas"

Philosophical eco-warrior, Roman Catholic priest, anarchist, polymath, "jet-age ascetic," and prolific author; Illich—working in 10 languages—critically analyzed Western culture—economics, medicine, education, transportation, development, work and energy. After becoming a priest in 1951, he signed up to work in one of New York's poorest areas with Puerto Rican immigrants. This led to a University appointment in Puerto Rico that lasted until he was fired for being too critical of the pope's anti-birth control stance. His later life became an enlivening educational experience for all within his influence.


Unlisted Sources

Deschooling Society (1971)​

Energy and Equity (1974)


Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis

Medical Nemesis (1976)

Shadow Work

Silence is a Commons (1982)

The Right to Useful Unemployment and Its Professional Enemies

Tools for Conviviality (1973)

We the People interview (1996)

Quotes by Ivan Illich (19 quotes)

“This breaking of the limitations of hospitality to a small in-group, of offering it to the broadest possible in-group, and saying, you determine who your guest is, might be taken as the key message of Christianity.”

Comments: Click to comment

“Inevitably modern technology has polarized society. It has polluted the environment. It has disabled very simple native abilities and made people dependent on objects... The world has become inaccessible because we drive there.”

from We the People interview (1996)

Themes: Technology

Comments: Click to comment

“By his silence Jesus recognizes power that is established as 'devil' and defines Himself as The Powerless. He who cannot accept this view on power cannot look at establishments through the spectacle of the Gospel. This is what clergy and churches often have difficulty doing.”

Themes: Power

Comments: Click to comment

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

from Tools for Conviviality (1973)

Comments: Click to comment

“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.”

from Medical Nemesis (1976)

Themes: Medicine Health

Comments: Click to comment

“A cosmic struggle among ever more complex forms of life has become the anthropic foundational myth of the scientific age.”

Comments: Click to comment

“Silence, according to western and eastern tradition alike, is necessary for the emergence of persons. It is taken from us by machines that ape people.”

from Silence is a Commons (1982)

Comments: Click to comment

“Jesus was an anarchist savior. That's what the Gospels tell us...


Themes: Christianity

Comments: Click to comment

“Machines which ape people are tending to encroach on every aspect of people's lives, and such machines force people to behave like machines... Whatever structurally does not fit the logic of machines is effectively filtered from a culture dominated by their use.”

from Silence is a Commons (1982)

Themes: Technology

Comments: Click to comment

“School is an advertising agency that makes you believe that you need society as it is... Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting... yet school makes them identify their personal, cognitive growth with elaborate planning and manipulation.”

from Deschooling Society (1971)​

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“The latent function of schooling, the hidden curriculum, forms individuals into needy people... Our society doesn't only produce artifact things, but artifact people...How did it come about that such a crazy process like schooling would become necessary?... The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.”

Comments: Click to comment

“He comes to believe that political power... is the result of access to the television screen... what he wants is not more liberty as a citizen but better service as a client. He wants a better product rather than freedom from servitude to it. It is vital that he come to see that the acceleration he demands is self-defeating, and that it must result in a further decline of equity, leisure, and autonomy.”

from Energy and Equity (1974)

Comments: Click to comment

“We cannot go beyond the consumer society unless we first understand that obligatory public schools inevitably reproduce such a society, no matter what is taught in them.”

Themes: Materialism

Comments: Click to comment

“The household has become the place where the consumption of wages takes place”

from Shadow Work

Themes: Family

Comments: Click to comment

“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.”

Comments: Click to comment

“The quality of a society and of its culture will depend on the status of its unemployed.”

from The Right to Useful Unemployment and Its Professional Enemies

Comments: Click to comment

“The more time, toil, and sacrifice spent by a population in producing medicine as a commodity, the larger will be the by-product, namely, the fallacy that society has a supply of health locked away which can be mined and marketed.”

from Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis

Themes: Medicine

Comments: Click to comment

“I know of no industrial society where women are the economic equals of men. Of everything that economics measures, women get less.”

from Gender

Comments: Click to comment

“To hell with the future. It's a man-eating idol.”

Themes: No Trace

Comments: Click to comment

Quotes about Ivan Illich (0 quotes)

Comments (0)