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The Science of Leonardo: Inside the Mind of the Great Genius of the Renaissance

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Leonardo da Vinci's scientific explorations were virtually unknown during his lifetime, despite their extraordinarily wide range. He studied the flight patterns of birds to create some of the first human flying machines; designed military weapons and defenses; studied optics, hydraulics, and the workings of the human circulatory system; and created designs for rebuilding M Leonardo da Vinci's scientific explorations were virtually unknown during his lifetime, despite their extraordinarily wide range. He studied the flight patterns of birds to create some of the first human flying machines; designed military weapons and defenses; studied optics, hydraulics, and the workings of the human circulatory system; and created designs for rebuilding Milan, employing principles still used by city planners today. Perhaps most importantly, Leonardo pioneered an empirical, systematic approach to the observation of nature-what is known today as the scientific method.Drawing on over 6,000 pages of Leonardo's surviving notebooks, acclaimed scientist and bestselling author Fritjof Capra reveals Leonardo's artistic approach to scientific knowledge and his organic and ecological worldview. In this fascinating portrait of a thinker centuries ahead of his time, Leonardo singularly emerges as the unacknowledged “father of modern science.” From the Trade Paperback edition.


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Leonardo da Vinci's scientific explorations were virtually unknown during his lifetime, despite their extraordinarily wide range. He studied the flight patterns of birds to create some of the first human flying machines; designed military weapons and defenses; studied optics, hydraulics, and the workings of the human circulatory system; and created designs for rebuilding M Leonardo da Vinci's scientific explorations were virtually unknown during his lifetime, despite their extraordinarily wide range. He studied the flight patterns of birds to create some of the first human flying machines; designed military weapons and defenses; studied optics, hydraulics, and the workings of the human circulatory system; and created designs for rebuilding Milan, employing principles still used by city planners today. Perhaps most importantly, Leonardo pioneered an empirical, systematic approach to the observation of nature-what is known today as the scientific method.Drawing on over 6,000 pages of Leonardo's surviving notebooks, acclaimed scientist and bestselling author Fritjof Capra reveals Leonardo's artistic approach to scientific knowledge and his organic and ecological worldview. In this fascinating portrait of a thinker centuries ahead of his time, Leonardo singularly emerges as the unacknowledged “father of modern science.” From the Trade Paperback edition.

30 review for The Science of Leonardo: Inside the Mind of the Great Genius of the Renaissance

  1. 4 out of 5

    William2

    Bit of a slog for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hossam Elbahrawy

    Leonardo Da Vinci is what God would be if he had a human form.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin Cadwalader

    An interesting book about the various pursuits of a brilliant mind. The first half focuses on his general biography, the second half the science itself. Capra takes more of a systems dynamics approach to the science, basing it more on what was known during Da Vinci's time, rather than examining the physics from a Newtonian perspective because that is not the type of physics background with which he would have approached these questions, though it is often how it has been interpretted since his n An interesting book about the various pursuits of a brilliant mind. The first half focuses on his general biography, the second half the science itself. Capra takes more of a systems dynamics approach to the science, basing it more on what was known during Da Vinci's time, rather than examining the physics from a Newtonian perspective because that is not the type of physics background with which he would have approached these questions, though it is often how it has been interpretted since his notebooks were discovered. A litle repetitive and a little dull at times if you've already had a lot of physics, but definitely worth a read if you're interested in learning about Da Vinci and very accessible, I think, if you haven't had much science training as well.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Was very excited for this one, yet, it disappointed. Very interesting information, yet disorganized, unclear thesis and subtopics and blindly misogynist in its prose and description. I started to get distracted by the adoration and deification of Da Vinci. I don’t think one female is as named in this entire depiction of his life, learnings, work and teaching. I would not recommend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Summers-Stay

    In order to be an artist, you need to observe carefully. What is under the skin that makes part of the neck bulge like that when a person turns their head? How do reflections on rippled water relate to the rest of the scene? Leonardo was hundreds of years ahead of his time in many of his scientific observations. This books points out what he got right and what he got wrong in optics, geology, physics, mechanics, anatomy, wave theory, and on and on. What he tragically didn't understand about scie In order to be an artist, you need to observe carefully. What is under the skin that makes part of the neck bulge like that when a person turns their head? How do reflections on rippled water relate to the rest of the scene? Leonardo was hundreds of years ahead of his time in many of his scientific observations. This books points out what he got right and what he got wrong in optics, geology, physics, mechanics, anatomy, wave theory, and on and on. What he tragically didn't understand about science was that in order to grow it has to be shared. In his time scientific knowledge was mostly kept as a secret. One of the most interesting points was Leonardo's use of the word "spiritual." When he used that word, he meant something like "not made of matter." so light, for instance, is a spiritual entity. When light hits the eye, he guessed, a spiritual influence travels through the optic nerve to the brain, where it harmonizes with other spiritual waves to form perception and memory. It made me understand a little about how other people before the modern era have talked about light and matter and spirit. There's also a biography in the first half of the book, but it seemed pretty much the same as other biographies of Leonardo.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Leonardo Da Vinci is a most fascinating person to read about. His extremely curious mind, amazing, almost superhuman powers of concentration, and his ability to memorize and synthesize huge amounts of information led to a level of genius in both science and art that has been rarely surpassed. As I was reading, I often wondered to myself, what could he have accomplished in our day and age? He would have absolutely loved the technology we have access to. Probably the most fascinating part was read Leonardo Da Vinci is a most fascinating person to read about. His extremely curious mind, amazing, almost superhuman powers of concentration, and his ability to memorize and synthesize huge amounts of information led to a level of genius in both science and art that has been rarely surpassed. As I was reading, I often wondered to myself, what could he have accomplished in our day and age? He would have absolutely loved the technology we have access to. Probably the most fascinating part was reading about the innovative art techniques he developed that were quite radical and awe-inspiring in his day. One technique he invented and mastered was "sfumato" - the delicate art of blending and melting shades into one another, creating more of a 3D effect. He also was a master at creating light effects in his paintings. I was amazed by the length of time and amount of thought and concentration that went into his works of art (some took several years to finish). This particular book was well done - a bit dry in parts - but informative and evenhanded.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Really nice treatment of an aspect of LDV's genius not often considered at length - the extremely integrative, systems-level nature of his intelligence and practice. Not a Descartian divisionist at all - art, science, engineering, anatomy - all related, all part of what he 'did' in the world. He would take up one, realize the need to know about another - take that up to, and on and on. And his contribution was significant in every field he entered. Loved learning and experimentation as ends in t Really nice treatment of an aspect of LDV's genius not often considered at length - the extremely integrative, systems-level nature of his intelligence and practice. Not a Descartian divisionist at all - art, science, engineering, anatomy - all related, all part of what he 'did' in the world. He would take up one, realize the need to know about another - take that up to, and on and on. And his contribution was significant in every field he entered. Loved learning and experimentation as ends in themselves....really cool book. Only quibble I have is I think Capra over-extends 'Cognitive Psychology' to make it fit his thesis....I disagree that CP incorporates all he says it does. But other than that-very enjoyable and educational.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I took a look at the biographies of Leonardo da Vinci at the library after watching the first season of Davinci's Demons. I was intrigued by the fact that Fritjof Capra had written what is essentially a scientific biography of da Vinci and checked it out. The book is beautiful and full of images from da Vinci's sketchbooks. Capra provides a brief biography of da Vinci, an overview of his artistic career and then an overview of his scientific and mathematical studies. I found all of it very intere I took a look at the biographies of Leonardo da Vinci at the library after watching the first season of Davinci's Demons. I was intrigued by the fact that Fritjof Capra had written what is essentially a scientific biography of da Vinci and checked it out. The book is beautiful and full of images from da Vinci's sketchbooks. Capra provides a brief biography of da Vinci, an overview of his artistic career and then an overview of his scientific and mathematical studies. I found all of it very interesting and well written. I like that Capra made an effort to place da Vinci and his research in his own time and place for the most part, I didn't like Capra's attempts to connect da Vinci to modern ideas like deep ecology or James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ev.

    Read this in high school when I had a huge crush on Leo da Vinci. Yeah. Don't judge me. Read this in high school when I had a huge crush on Leo da Vinci. Yeah. Don't judge me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marlies

    Picked this book up because I was interested in Leonardo's way of thinking, which was peaked by a lot of recommendations for Walter Isaacson's biography. However, that book has the size of an elephant! Decided to pick this average sized book instead which also has a comparable score here on Goodreads. As I'm a Design Engineer I was mostly interested in Leonardo's sciency side, rather than the painter and I wanted to get some take-aways which I could implement in my own life. Luckily, Capra start Picked this book up because I was interested in Leonardo's way of thinking, which was peaked by a lot of recommendations for Walter Isaacson's biography. However, that book has the size of an elephant! Decided to pick this average sized book instead which also has a comparable score here on Goodreads. As I'm a Design Engineer I was mostly interested in Leonardo's sciency side, rather than the painter and I wanted to get some take-aways which I could implement in my own life. Luckily, Capra starts with the argumentation that more designers/engineers/scientists can learn a lot from (and should adapt more of) Leonardo's way of working (and that their current way of working is flawed). I strongly disliked Capra's formulation of this statement, but did really enjoy how he explained the state of affairs during Leonardo's time and how he was different from other contemporaries at the time. It's a really compact read on Leonardo's life and work giving some great detail and context. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in Leonardo da Vinci's life who wants to get a sizeable introduction, however would recommend other books for engineers etc. When I have the time I'm looking forward to dive deeper into the subject with Walter Isaacson's book. (view spoiler)[ What I learned from the book: +Genius during the Renaissance was used to indicate the 'Gen', a sort of guardian spirit. If someone/thing was recognized as a genius than this was due to his/her/it's guardian spirit. + Signs of geniuses: 1) insatiable curiosity, 2) extraordinary concentration and focus, 3) ability to memorize lots of information. + During the Renaissance the world view changed where in the Middle Ages a person's characteristics where created by God (fixed mindset), where in the Renaissance they acknowledged that understanding and knowledge came from the person (growth mindset). The goal became to know of many fields of study (the universal man). Leonardo went one step further and not only knew of a lot of different fields, but also interconnected that information. + Leonardo had a way of drawing where he sketched a line numerous times until he was satisfied with its perfect shape and than retraced that one. Makes me think of generative design, but then in sketching. **I should try this technique more, focusing on really lightly drawing until I know the end shape for certain. + Leonardo spent his childhood outside in the fields and hills of Vinci. I've heard this from other recognized people and do think that this is best for your development; you learn to observe and really experience the world (street wise?) compared to only observing if you sit behind your computer for example. + **Leonardo kept a notebook with him AT ALL TIMES and recorded everything. Even simple thoughts, Latin words he wanted to learn, etc. + During the Renaissance a lot of the 'old knowledge' (Greek & Roman) was rediscovered. Arguably this was due to Christianity where the focus was on God and his creation and there was no room for Science. (In contrary, Islamic culture focuses more on practicing compassion, social justice and wealth and therefore offers more room for scientific exploration). During the Renaissance again came room for scientific exploration, but most of this was focused on re-reading the old texts and not on doing new discoveries (what Leonardo did do). + Middle-ages + Renaissance; worldview is nature based. During Scientific Revolution (from the Renaissance onwards), this view shifted to one where the earth is a machine. In a machine everything can be measured, you have clear inputs and outputs, components can be replaced etc. However, Leonardo thought, as well as current scientists, that everything is indeed more like a living being; everything is connected and complex. You cannot measure everything, but you can give a description of proportions for example. **Can you explain something, but you cannot use man-made definitions like length, time and weight? + Leonardo always planned to convert his notebooks into treatises/books and publish them. Some texts are therefore also written like; "if you want to paint this scene, you shall do this and that". I think this is a great way of also getting to understand a subject, its similar to the Feynmann technique. (hide spoiler)]

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yennie

    Leonardo Da Vinci was a man that I really can feel inspired by. Leonardo was a man who had a curiosity of learning (that transcended his art) until he died; he was always trying to understand the world he lived in (and all of its mysteries). He kept his scientific discoveries, explorations, and observations in his thousands of Notebooks, which he kept hidden while he was alive and the majority of which were not understood in their entirety until many hundreds of years after his death. In them, C Leonardo Da Vinci was a man that I really can feel inspired by. Leonardo was a man who had a curiosity of learning (that transcended his art) until he died; he was always trying to understand the world he lived in (and all of its mysteries). He kept his scientific discoveries, explorations, and observations in his thousands of Notebooks, which he kept hidden while he was alive and the majority of which were not understood in their entirety until many hundreds of years after his death. In them, Capra argues that Leonardo's science was brilliant and systemic, compared to the more mechanical view of science espoused by Descartes, Newton, and Galileo. Capra argues that Leonardo was in fact the first "systemic thinker," viewing the world as holistic rather than as divided into modular and separate pieces. He found connections and patterns in the many different fields he studied (geometry, optics, mechanics, light, wave patterns) which aided his learning and led him to the conclusion that everything in nature is connected. "He always looked for patterns that would interconnect observations from different disciplines; his mind seemed to work best when it was occupied with multiple projects" (86) I found Leonardo's love of learning inspiring. He never had a Classical training and so he spent most of his adult life teaching himself geometry and Latin (which he started learning at age 40!) and anatomy and so many other fields. (This actually reminded me of Abraham Lincoln, another self-taught genius who never had the opportunity to engage in a rigorous Classical education in his childhood). One of the funniest anecdotes was when Leonardo was asked to build a giant bronze statue of a horse (3x the size of a normal horse) for the Duke of Milan. Leonardo spent so long planning and doing his research (including a full treatise on horse anatomy, and methods to improve the sewage system for the horse stables) that by the time he was ready to build the horse, the project ran out of money because Milan got into war and the Duke used the bronze that would be used for the horse on cannonballs! I think for Leonardo, his main goal in life was lifelong learning rather than the "final products." Capra argues similarly, that for Leonardo, the final product of the art was never the end goal ... the process was what mattered most for him. "In his art as in his science, he always seemed to be more interested in the process of exploration than in the completed work or final results. Thus many of his paintings and all of his science remained unfinished work in progress." (165) In general, I thought the arguments made by Capra about Leonardo's life were really interesting, trying to take a holistic approach to viewing Leonardo as an artist and scientist. However, I found the second half of the book ("Leonardo the Scientist") felt more like a list of his accomplishments and notes and dragged on a bit near the end.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven Kaminski

    My main takeaway from this book? Man I wish I was smarter. This book gives a great breakdown with reproductions of Leonardo Da Vinci's actual drawings from his notebooks. It went through his life through the notebooks and the evolutions of his interests. Da Vinci contributed over 300 inventions to the world. And because he was an honest researcher who wanted to learn about everything he went from being 'unlearned' (he never got a formal education) to creating studies of anatomy, fluid dynamics, My main takeaway from this book? Man I wish I was smarter. This book gives a great breakdown with reproductions of Leonardo Da Vinci's actual drawings from his notebooks. It went through his life through the notebooks and the evolutions of his interests. Da Vinci contributed over 300 inventions to the world. And because he was an honest researcher who wanted to learn about everything he went from being 'unlearned' (he never got a formal education) to creating studies of anatomy, fluid dynamics, mechanical engineering, painting, sculpting, botany, aerodynamics! The list goes on and on... - He was a pacifist yet advised many rulers as a military engineer. - He created the design for canal locks which in modern day form are used on everything from dams to the Panama Canal. - Pattern recognition was the key to his idea about universality. In many ways everything was connected. He held painting as one of the highest culminations of art and science because that was what he made to be. The ideas of depth perception, perspective...he modernized those. - He was a naturalist and a vegetarian which was rare in those days. He recognized that animals could feel pain and this led him to be more compassionate. - I his study of birds he laid out the foundations for gliders and attempts for human flight. Far greater was his knowledge than previously known because after his death his notebooks were scattered all throughout Europe and even in the modern day people like Bill Gates have been piecing them back together to see his genius once again. Great book and his images are astounding to see...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    This book is an excellent and easy read. It illuminates an interesting topic: the underrated and less well-known scientific achievements and discoveries of Leonardo da Vinci. The first several chapters, focused on a short history of Leonardo's life and placing him and his endeavors in the context of Renaissance science and art, are by far the most interesting and compelling passages. The writing gets repetitive and overly argumentative when it digs into discussing the science in question. The ba This book is an excellent and easy read. It illuminates an interesting topic: the underrated and less well-known scientific achievements and discoveries of Leonardo da Vinci. The first several chapters, focused on a short history of Leonardo's life and placing him and his endeavors in the context of Renaissance science and art, are by far the most interesting and compelling passages. The writing gets repetitive and overly argumentative when it digs into discussing the science in question. The basic hypothesis is that Leonardo essentially broke ground in a panoply of scientific disciplines that did not exist until hundreds of years after him. This may be true--it certainly sounds like it is--but at times it feels as if the author is so intent on confirming this hypothesis that I worry he may overstate his evidence. Instances of speculation on his part about what Leonardo meant, intended, or was trying to convey may be accurate, but they are still speculations. I gave this book three stars both for this reason stated above and because--as I feared--those sections actually devoted to explicating Leonardo's science quickly grow tedious for those not familiar with geometry or calculus. The author does a fair job of explaining things, but it is still a slog for the novitiate or mathematically disinclined. That said, I would still recommend at least the first 150-200 pages for someone looking to understand a different aspect of da Vinci's unquestionable genius. I thank Mr. Capra for bringing this fact to a wider audience.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amr Adel

    with no doubt that the life of leonardo de vinci was full of lessons for us to learn and to amuse us with his amazing capabilities. In this book we learn how he was eager to learn more and never stop trying or searching for the right answer. In the first chapters when the author discusses his life and what he made throughout it,i think this is the entertaining part.However in the last couple of chapters the author try to put the scientific achievements of leonardo and here comes the boring part with no doubt that the life of leonardo de vinci was full of lessons for us to learn and to amuse us with his amazing capabilities. In this book we learn how he was eager to learn more and never stop trying or searching for the right answer. In the first chapters when the author discusses his life and what he made throughout it,i think this is the entertaining part.However in the last couple of chapters the author try to put the scientific achievements of leonardo and here comes the boring part due to couple of reasons that -though it was revolutionary discoveries on its time- its boring to know that a person was good at every aspect of his life and also boring to read an obvious discoveries that is granted for us to know at our nowadays again!, the second reason that the author put them in an academic way as he was going only to put them just for the sake of them to be putted. Eventually i think it almost the first seventy percent of the book it was truly a Journey in the mind of Leo.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hall

    I don't have *many* complaints about *what* Capra says in this book, but as far as *how* he says it, I did finding his style of writing shallow and very, very repetitive. He insists on making the same point again and again, giving the impression of trying to pad the book out to a reasonable length. His writing is also fairly stilted at times, looking like a list of statements rather than a flowing narrative. With regards to what he wrote (rather than how), my biggest problem is with the way he dr I don't have *many* complaints about *what* Capra says in this book, but as far as *how* he says it, I did finding his style of writing shallow and very, very repetitive. He insists on making the same point again and again, giving the impression of trying to pad the book out to a reasonable length. His writing is also fairly stilted at times, looking like a list of statements rather than a flowing narrative. With regards to what he wrote (rather than how), my biggest problem is with the way he draws equivalences on the basis of superficial similarities (something I thought he did to an obscene extent in 'The Tao of Physics'). I also took his heavy dependence on secondary sources and opinions to indicate that he wasn't overly familiar with the subject. If you know nothing about Leonardo, this might be worth reading, otherwise maybe not ...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    I learned so much about the great Leonardo. I knew about his art and his inventions, but he was so much more! A painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, anatomist, philosopher, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, city planner, optics, explorer & mountaineer, geologist, inventor, military expert, landscape artist, mathematician, writer, statics expert, theatre technician, set, costume, and lighting design, and fluid dynamics expert. I cannot even imagine anyone more talented and to think that he I learned so much about the great Leonardo. I knew about his art and his inventions, but he was so much more! A painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, anatomist, philosopher, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, city planner, optics, explorer & mountaineer, geologist, inventor, military expert, landscape artist, mathematician, writer, statics expert, theatre technician, set, costume, and lighting design, and fluid dynamics expert. I cannot even imagine anyone more talented and to think that he was self-taught with no formal training is incredible. I want to go back to Italy!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian Darvell

    I found the first half of the story (the more factual and biographical half) to be more enjoyable and interesting than the latter half. To me much of the book came across too pleading for the author's own scientific ideology as if by having Leonardo da Vinci following its order must make it that much more credible. Nonetheless, it was still overall a decent book and I enjoyed the overviews of many of Leonardo's more famous artistic works. I found the first half of the story (the more factual and biographical half) to be more enjoyable and interesting than the latter half. To me much of the book came across too pleading for the author's own scientific ideology as if by having Leonardo da Vinci following its order must make it that much more credible. Nonetheless, it was still overall a decent book and I enjoyed the overviews of many of Leonardo's more famous artistic works.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian Swain

    I deeply enjoy Fritjof Capra's writing (The Web of Life, etc.), and The Science of Leonardo lives up to his intensive research and impactful writing style. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys learning about the greatest Renaissance man of them all, and particularly about his thought processes, scientific techniques, and experimental innovations. I deeply enjoy Fritjof Capra's writing (The Web of Life, etc.), and The Science of Leonardo lives up to his intensive research and impactful writing style. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys learning about the greatest Renaissance man of them all, and particularly about his thought processes, scientific techniques, and experimental innovations.

  19. 4 out of 5

    James Edwards

    Little new material written in a most boring manner.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Brubaker

    Here be genius.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    An eye opening view of Leonardo the scientist.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Fantastic, fantastic book. What a fascinating read. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of Leonardo's life and achievements, but I was only scraping the surface. The book starts out with a biography of his life, exploring some of his main interests, and his accomplishments in painting, military engineering, and theatre. Then in the second half, really getting into the meat of it, Leonardo's accomplishments in different branches of the sciences. Really, enough cannot be said about his dep Fantastic, fantastic book. What a fascinating read. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of Leonardo's life and achievements, but I was only scraping the surface. The book starts out with a biography of his life, exploring some of his main interests, and his accomplishments in painting, military engineering, and theatre. Then in the second half, really getting into the meat of it, Leonardo's accomplishments in different branches of the sciences. Really, enough cannot be said about his depth of curiosity and observation. Enough cannot be said about how truly far ahead of his time he was. And oddly, this is where the book hits it's only snag. Capra is sometimes so enamored of Leonardo, that it feels like his objectivity is lost, and it raises (slight) concerns that Leonardo's achivements are exaggerated here. I don't think that that's actually the case, not with the way that Capra buttresses his arguments with quotes and drawings taken right from Leonardo's notebooks, but it is still a slight weak point. But overall the book is fantastic, written intelligently but without falling into the impressed-with-their-own-intellect style that so many non fiction books do, and without dumbing the writing down. Almost every page had something fascinating fact or inspiring concept. And it must be mentioned that the book iteslf is gorgeous. The cream paper and brown text isn't a major shift from standard black and white, but it makes the book feel extremely special, and well thought out. Great read, highly reccomended

  23. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Leonardo helps me feel normal. Not that my art, science, or engineering understanding is anywhere comparable. I relate to his journey in exploring practical aspects for a painting (such as light or physical motion) taking a diversion into optics, physiology, barn construction etc. and going far beyond useful information for a portrait painting. Also, I envy that he could take three years to complete a masterpiece, The Last Super. This book is about a man who could have easily been the father of m Leonardo helps me feel normal. Not that my art, science, or engineering understanding is anywhere comparable. I relate to his journey in exploring practical aspects for a painting (such as light or physical motion) taking a diversion into optics, physiology, barn construction etc. and going far beyond useful information for a portrait painting. Also, I envy that he could take three years to complete a masterpiece, The Last Super. This book is about a man who could have easily been the father of modern science, if only he'd published and dispersed his observations during his lifetime. Fortunately he shared his art, toppling old ideas and radically changing the perception of how art should be done. A deep thinker with a phenomenal memory, great skill, and ample talent. Also, deeply private, making books about him reliant on tales told about him rather than by him. Mr. Capra does a good job of pulling together what is known without straying too far into conjecture. Easy to read, nicely handled topic.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Contrary to the opinions expressed by my fellow critics. I found the authors passion for Leonardo and for Leonardo’s science to be riveting. I have not studied Leonardo directly, and so appreciated the inclusion of such biographical detail. I realise that there are literally thousands of books written on Leonardo, from diverse perspectives. Though I was pleased with the mix of science discussed by the author as it related to Leonardo’s life, his art and his death. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Contrary to the opinions expressed by my fellow critics. I found the authors passion for Leonardo and for Leonardo’s science to be riveting. I have not studied Leonardo directly, and so appreciated the inclusion of such biographical detail. I realise that there are literally thousands of books written on Leonardo, from diverse perspectives. Though I was pleased with the mix of science discussed by the author as it related to Leonardo’s life, his art and his death. I found exactly what I was looking for in this book. Having said that, I can see how those more advanced in their understanding of art, or of Renaissance science / history might have found it to be somewhat cursory, though as a newcomer to this subject, I think that this book should be heralded as a must read for those embarking on self directed study of the Master and his work.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    While da Vinci's artistic and scientific achievements are well known, the personal aspects of the man have been shrouded in mystery for centuries. Few writer's who knew about him from first or second hand sources have given a depiction of the person Leonardo da Vinci - noteably Vasari, a 16th century biographer of painters of the Renaissance period, whose decription of Leonardo portrays him as eccentric, private, strong & beautiful in his youth, and perhaps gay. Little else is known outside of t While da Vinci's artistic and scientific achievements are well known, the personal aspects of the man have been shrouded in mystery for centuries. Few writer's who knew about him from first or second hand sources have given a depiction of the person Leonardo da Vinci - noteably Vasari, a 16th century biographer of painters of the Renaissance period, whose decription of Leonardo portrays him as eccentric, private, strong & beautiful in his youth, and perhaps gay. Little else is known outside of the writings of these early biographers about da Vinci's youth or his personal side - yet there is less doubt as to his persona in his older years. Fritjof Capra's biography enlightens of Leonardo da Vinci's diversified talents and re-emphasizes why the classical genius remains so well regarded through the centuries.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Rated three stars for "Ok if you have nothing better to do with your time." I won't be finishing this one, and I'm breaking my rule about giving such books 1 star because... it is what it says it is. Biographical stuff about Leonardo and a good effort at fitting him into the role of "first true scientist." It's just that I found, while reading this, that I wasn't really interested in these topics. My bad, not the books. A light read, beautiful production-- ink, paper, font, just lovely. I would hav Rated three stars for "Ok if you have nothing better to do with your time." I won't be finishing this one, and I'm breaking my rule about giving such books 1 star because... it is what it says it is. Biographical stuff about Leonardo and a good effort at fitting him into the role of "first true scientist." It's just that I found, while reading this, that I wasn't really interested in these topics. My bad, not the books. A light read, beautiful production-- ink, paper, font, just lovely. I would have liked to have seen far more pictures though... Will be of great interest to science historical biography fanciers. Nothing outside the paradigm of our current status quo, though, so not up my alley at all really.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    Leonardo was the master of the Renaissance, excelling in engineering, mathematics, chemistry, anatomy, optics, aeronautics, as well as painting. He rose from humble beginnings by gaining political favor for his design of weaponry and his remaining journals trace his life and thoughts. He began with Aristotle and in many ways developed the scientific method. Capra describes his thinking as very systemic and this is where he used his talents of art to describe his curiosities. Capra's unequivocal Leonardo was the master of the Renaissance, excelling in engineering, mathematics, chemistry, anatomy, optics, aeronautics, as well as painting. He rose from humble beginnings by gaining political favor for his design of weaponry and his remaining journals trace his life and thoughts. He began with Aristotle and in many ways developed the scientific method. Capra describes his thinking as very systemic and this is where he used his talents of art to describe his curiosities. Capra's unequivocal praise could have been spiced with some objectivity. I'd now like to learn more of Galileo and Pythagorus, of course.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Fascinating read! I knew DaVinci was a renaissance man, yet I had no idea of the scope of his works. Capra did an excellent job of showing DaVinci's studies as well as DaVinci's thoughts and beliefs. Some of the topics DaVinci studied are of an advanced nature and are a little complex for the non-mathematician. However, for those who are mathematically inclined, Capra provides an appendix going further into various mathematical concepts. A great read for any who are interested in the ancestors o Fascinating read! I knew DaVinci was a renaissance man, yet I had no idea of the scope of his works. Capra did an excellent job of showing DaVinci's studies as well as DaVinci's thoughts and beliefs. Some of the topics DaVinci studied are of an advanced nature and are a little complex for the non-mathematician. However, for those who are mathematically inclined, Capra provides an appendix going further into various mathematical concepts. A great read for any who are interested in the ancestors of the modern scientist. As Capra himself contemplated, how different would our world be today if DaVinci 19s works were published.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Art Meyer

    The Science of Leonardo is the most inspirational and interesting book that I have read in the last ten years. Capra takes the reader for an intellectually stimulating journey through the life of Leonardo. Along this path one continually encounters an intensely curious thinker who continually strives to discover the truth. Capra delves into the life of an artist, scientist, designer, architect, botanist, anatomist, engineer, and musician who won't be held back by the restraints of classical writ The Science of Leonardo is the most inspirational and interesting book that I have read in the last ten years. Capra takes the reader for an intellectually stimulating journey through the life of Leonardo. Along this path one continually encounters an intensely curious thinker who continually strives to discover the truth. Capra delves into the life of an artist, scientist, designer, architect, botanist, anatomist, engineer, and musician who won't be held back by the restraints of classical writers such as Plato and Aristotle. Along the way, we learn how Leonardo continually revises and integrates these separate but interconnected streams of thought. I highly recommend this book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alea

    I decided to read this book because Leonardo's drawing the Vitruvian Man has been mentioned in my Feldenkrais training many times. I decided I wanted to know if there were more correlations between Leonardo's work and the teachings in my training. If I didnt know any better I would say that Moshe Feldenkrais read this book as he was developing his method. Not the case as Moshe passed before this was published, which may make it even more incredible. The two shared a similar outlook on knowlege, I decided to read this book because Leonardo's drawing the Vitruvian Man has been mentioned in my Feldenkrais training many times. I decided I wanted to know if there were more correlations between Leonardo's work and the teachings in my training. If I didnt know any better I would say that Moshe Feldenkrais read this book as he was developing his method. Not the case as Moshe passed before this was published, which may make it even more incredible. The two shared a similar outlook on knowlege, advocating that everything we know we know from experience. I very much enjoyed this read.

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