Tell Me Of The Young Man, Verrocchio

Who was Leonardo Da Vinci, not as an idea but, as a person with a personal philosophy?
Photo by Damiano Baschiera on Unsplash

We must doubt the certainty of everything which passes through the senses, but how much more ought we to doubt things contrary to the senses, such as the existence of God and the soul.

- Leonardo Da Vinci 

I have been having some preliminary thoughts about the Renaissance Humanism painter-philosopher, Leonardo Da Vinci, as in percolating about the ways in which to approach the subject matter. 

Often, he gets called the Rennaissance Man or the Universal Genius due to the ubiquity of both his expertise and domains of deep knowledge. In some manner, Da Vinci was a pervasive intellect.

Someone who, whatever he touched, he mastered. Someone of a brilliance rarely seen in the modern period in which specialization is the flavor of the day, not universality.

In this sense, there is a general sensibility of awe, about him, and distance, from the philosophy behind him. When I examine his words, and I look at some of the life trajectories, I note several indicative points of caution.

Not only a beautiful man, a bright person, and an inquisitive sensitivity to the natural world, someone conscious of the ways in which the Church, as in the Roman Catholic Church, dominated, domineered, and crushed all dissent with force, even by torture or murder by the 'state' or the Church arm.

He was cautious in statements, even in scientific discoveries as the Church was a force for ignorance and suffering, as today, by and large. He kept statements at odds of the Church away from the public, so the hierarchs. 

He wasn't polite; he was political. Leo was a genius. Few doubt it. Near as I can tell, fewer questions exist about the man's life than about his philosophical views. He seems as if a scientist, an engineer, a technologist. 

Someone interested in the natural world as the natural world with observation as key to the comprehension of the world, where the senses cannot provide a definitive answer to the vexing questions of the day.

There can be approximations. There can be estimations. There can be grasping some order of the truth, as in the facts of the matter about reality. However, the sense of the self and its senses reign supreme to Leonardo.

Someone distinctly aware of the limitations of the faith structures in his midst. In his notebooks, thus tucked away, he proclaimed in capital letters, "IL SOLE NO SI MUOVE," or, "THE SUN DOES NOT MOVE." 

In short, decades before the official finding, he deduced the heliocentric reality of the Solar System rather than the biblically asserted geocentric view of the Solar System.  

This contradicted centuries of biblical teaching and Church authority. Therefore, he put the text in his notebooks, never discovered until after death, presumably, as a monument to both his genius and his caution. 

He considers the state of nature as the state of nature itself. In that, a collection of physical laws manifest and order the universe and living systems. He dissected corpses, incorporated findings of anatomy and physiology in drawings and artistic works. 

He had a sense of the real. He had a compassion for the living, even releasing some animals in captivity if he passed them by paying for their fee. He was someone in love with life and in love with the discoveries about the natural world.

In this sense, as an amorist, as in amour, or love, he was a lover of nature and the real human nature, not the statements of holy texts or the authorities of the men in dresses in Rome. 

He died in France. Someone in what has been termed Renaissance Humanism. Something of an amorist-naturalist and a humanist in a full sense of the term without religious connotations or transcendentalist sensibilities.

Someone for whom the natural world is that which is, sufficiently ordered, and reason as a guide to order the thoughts about the world gathered and organized through the senses. 

He would be a rare individual, even today, as a naturalistic thinker, comprehensive in the dimensionality of considerations about the world, and oriented towards the use of proper reason to come to some truths about reality at large.

In short, a man of reality and virtue.

Founder of In-Sight Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. He is an Independent Journalist and Researcher. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere. 

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