Leonardo da Vinci


Philosophical Belief: (Renaissance) Humanism



"The 'Father' of the High Renaissance"

"The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

"Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

"In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time." ~ Leonardo da Vinci
(Quotes from www.brainyquote.com)

Leonardo da Vinci: Artist/Scientist/Inventor

Born out of wedlock on April 15, 1492, Leonardo da Vinci's life didn't look too promising from the start. In an age when illigitimacy was highly unacceptable, he had limitations set upon his life before he could even make an impression on the world. No longer able to enter into a traditional career, he was in a sense free to do what he wanted (in a way, da Vinci's beginnings reflect some of the themes present in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter). Despite having little to no formal education, he proved that humble beginnings can lead to a spectacular life. Leonardo da Vinci is probably most well known for being one of the greatest artists of all time but he was also a scientist and inventor who had many ideas and philosophies (Humanism) of his own.


The Artist

Leonardo Da Vinci was both curious and observant. As an artist, he studied perspective and the details of the human body and in nature. He was the first to pioneer the studies of proportions of the body and general human anatomy - a big step for the progress of art. Da Vinci was also more interested in painting/drawing/recording things as they truely appeared in real life. He later used a scientific approach (studying and observing anatomy, nature, perspective, etc.) to improve his artwork. Unlike artists like Michelangelo, da Vinci drew the human body as it really looked. Michelangelo beefed up the muscles in his male figures which da Vinci later criticized.



The Scientist

Da Vinci designed experiments to test the ideas he had. He wasn't inclined to find the whole truth in writings like the Bible. Being a humanist, he found truth in nature instead. Da Vinci was one to ask simple questions like "How do birds fly?" He then observed his subjects in order to answer the questions hewomb.jpg asked himself.

Unlik e his contemporaries, da Vinci took a special interest in studying not only the outside of the human body but the inside as well. Da Vinci disected Cadavers (dead bodies) and when the Pope deemed this practice inhumane, da Vinci used animal bodies instead. None of these deseased bodies were preserved very well and decayed at a rapid pace, but even in the most gruesome of circumstances, da Vinci was focused on the pursuit of knowledge and was determined to understand the world around him. As a result, he helped pave the way to organized methods of scientific research and study. In addition, da Vinci's insanely accurate sketches increased understanding of the inner workings of the human body, which led to countless advancements in the medical field. He left behind volumes of notes on everything from human anatomy to studies and observations of the sun and moon. Most of his notes were


written backwards because he was very protective of his findings and didn't want anyone to copy his ideas.

Da Vinci may also have been one of the earlier thinkers to give the theory of evolution a nod. He rejected the belief that fossils were "sports of nature" (as they were thought to be in those days) and that they were living animals at one time. Da Vinci is quoted saying, "Nature, being inconstant and taking pleasure in creating and continually producing new forms, because she knows that her terrestrial materials are thereby augmented, is more ready and more swift in her creating than is time in his destruction" (Michon). Once again, da Vinci was ahead of his time, thinking outside of the box.

Although most of his ideas/beliefs were and still are considered true, da Vinci became interested in physiognomy. During da Vinci's time, it was a popular belief that someone's personality could be determined by his/her facial features (physiognomy). Physiognomy was even considered a branch of science until it was proven untrue.



The Inventor

While his true passion was observing nature and using his artistic skills to record what he saw, he had to make a living and invested his skill in architecture , military engineering, weapons design and canal building. Amazingly, da Vinci had a talent for engineering as well but his mind was in a different place. He was a rational thinker who found war to be nothing but "beastly madness". Nevertheless, da Vinci cranked out countless war-related inventions (or leads that led to inventions) like missles, mortars, the helicopter, the tank, multi-barrel machine guns and many more thingamajigs.

An Incredible Man

Overall, da Vinci was a man who was most interested in understanding the world around him. He looked into nature - and sometimes inside of dead bodies - in search of answers. A peaceable man who appreciated the joy in creating and observing, da Vinci left behind many inventions and studies that have a predominant affect on our everyday lives.

10 Things You Probably Never Knew About Leonardo da Vinci:

  1. He was an illegitimate child.
  2. He had 17 half brothers and sisters.
  3. He was a vegetartian.
  4. He loved animals and would buy them at the market so he could set them free.
  5. He is said to have been very handsome and he was very concerned with how he looked.
  6. He had a great singing voice.
  7. His studies led to inventions like the tank, submarines, and other advanced weapons.
  8. He was left handed (In the Renaissance era, left-handedness was considered to be "the devil's work").
  9. He wrote his findings backwards so that no one could read them unless they stood in front of a mirror.
  10. He turned down a commission to create an underwater breathing device, claiming that it would be used for "evil in war".

The Gist on da Vinci

A summary of Da Vinci's beliefs/ways of life:
  • He believed in Humanism.
  • He loved nature and animals.
  • He enjoyed creating things.
  • He hated war and fighting.
  • He sought to find explanations about the world without using any sort of superficial analysis.
  • He asked questions about the world/nature and sought out answers through his own experiments and observations.
  • He believed that fossils were remnants of once-living animals and he may had basic ideas of evolution.

**Get the Full Scoop on da Vinci**

Videos Comprised of da Vinci's work:


Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist. Museum of Science, Boston. 26 August. 2006. <http://www.mos.org/leonardo/>

Alvey, Kevin R. "The Anatomical Drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci." Index of /CollegePark/1070. 5 October. 2001. Geocities. 26 August. 2006. <


Michon, Scott. "Leonardo Da Vinci." Strange Science: The Rocky Road to Modern Paleontology and Biology. 16 December. 2005. National

Science Foundation, Discovery Channel, etc. 26 August. 2006. <http://www.strangescience.net/davinci.htm>

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