The Mind of Leonardo Da Vinci - Deepstash
The Mind of Leonardo Da Vinci

The Mind of Leonardo Da Vinci

blogs.scientificamerican.com

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The Mind of Leonardo da Vinci

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The Mind of Leonardo da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci's meaning in our era

Leonardo da Vinci's meaning in our era

Each generation has interpreted Leonardo da Vinci, finding him remarkably modern.

We can consider Leonardo's meaning in our era. Leonardo's genius and symbol of the "universal man" stem from the breadth of his interests in the arts, science and technology. He discovered, among other things, acetone, the lumen cinereum of the moon, the centre of gravity of a pyramid, and working with plastics.

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Da Vinci's limitations

  • He was defensive about his lack of formal education. He called himself a man without letters.
  • He had trouble with basic arithmetic operations.
  • His Latin skills were weak.
  • He might not have performed well in a modern schooling system. He might have been diagnosed with conditions such as autism spectrum disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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A unified vision of nature's laws

A unified vision of nature's laws

Leonardo da Vinci’s science was grounded in the Aristotelian world. He developed a system of what he called the four powers of nature: movement, weight, force and percussion. While his ideas are archaic, he developed a coherent model for natural phenomena.

His ideas of the four powers informed his art and science, similar to today, where we seek to unify the laws of physics as we study natural phenomena from subatomic particles to the history of the universe.

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Visalised knowledge

Leonardo da Vinci's passion for the sense of vision was extreme. He writes in his Paragone, "The eye is the window of the human body through which the soul views and enjoys the beauties of the world. Because of it, the soul is content in its human prison, and without it this human prison is its torment".

Leonardo considered painting a science and the creative act of painting to visualise the world. He would strike a dusty table to describe the pattern by which the dust settled. He also performed dissections of the body.

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Faith in experience

Leonardo da Vinci relied on his senses for a meaningful experience.

He wrote in his Treatise on Painting: “To me it seems that those sciences are vain and full of error which are not born of experience, mother of all certainty, firsthand experience which in its origins, or means, or end has passed through one of the five senses. And if we doubt the certainty of everything which passes through the senses, how much more ought we to doubt things contrary to these senses such as the existence of god or of the soul or similar things over which there is always dispute and contention.

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Creativity in science and art

Creativity in science and art

Creativity is essential to art and science. We can appreciate the many facets of Leonardo's creativity, and it can inspire us today.

In Leonardo da Vinci's time, "scientia" referred to knowledge and "ars" to manual proficiency. The modern distinction between the sciences and humanities did not exist as it does today. Leonardo considered the purpose of art to understand and depict the natural world as scientists would.

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