The Science of Leonardo

By FRTIJOF CAPRA

Much as Harold Bloom discerned the roots of our modern sensibilities in the figure of a single phenomenal writer in his study Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998), so too does Fritjof Capra, author of the classic The Tao of Physics (1975), trace the genesis of the scientific method — as well as prescient foreshadowings of contemporary fields such as complexity theory and deep ecology — to a lone pioneering genius, in The Science of Leonardo. In Capra’s thesis, da Vinci’s unique blend of art, science, and design — rationalism, empiricism, and empathetic imagination united in a holistic matrix — earns the Renaissance polymath the designation of the “true founder of modern science.” Drawing on recent scholarship that has, finally, arrayed in chronological order and definitively annotated the entire 6,000 surviving pages of Leonardo’s notes (out of a reputed 13,000!) in accessible facsimile editions, Capra presents an enthralling portrait of both “Leonardo, the Man” and “Leonardo, the Scientist.” Historical context is rendered crystal clear, as are the scientific principles of Leonardo’s researches and his painterly techniques. No mystical flights of fancy obtain — Illuminati need not apply — since the simple truth of the man’s far-flung accomplishments are nearly unbelievable. Capra notes that each era reinvents its own version of Leonardo, and this volume gives us a Gaia-loving, SFX-creating �ber-geek Leonardo, who would fit right into some Google R&D facility, where he could zestily blue-sky the utopian future we all long to inhabit. -

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