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« Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible | Main | A Medic in the Museum »

09/22/2011

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H Niyazi

Fascinating post David! I wish I could attend that course!

It's interesting to read that Leonardo was more oriented towards experience and observation - something we can demonstrate by his appointment for his technologist talents rather than his artistic ability alone.

You may be also want to peruse a post with a related theme (and dramatic title!) over at Renaissance Mathematicus, exploring the powerful, often inaccurate mythology that has been built around Leonardo as 'scientist'

http://bit.ly/eySM64

Your descriptor of his investigative activities operating on the 'fringe' of contemporary 'scientists'(anatomists, mathematicians etc) of the day is much more appropriate.

Given his predisposition to observation and experimentation, I always find it fascinating to contemplate Raphael's (supposed) depiction of Leonardo as Plato gesturing toward the divine architect, and not Aristotle, gesturing at nature before him.

Kind Regards
H

Thony C.

A much better take on Leonardo as "scientist" than the usual fare but with a couple of small errors that I would like to point to now.

Normally he would have attended the Abbaco or abbacus school (English reckoning school) during his apprenticeship as artist. It is spelt with 2'b's to differentiate it from abacus with which it has nothing to do, abbacus come from the Italian for to calculate. These were small private schools, which taught apprentices the basics of particle mathematics not only reckoning with the Hindu-Arabic numbers and book keeping but also geometry, trigonometry and depending on the abilities and preferences of the teacher optics and linear perspective. These schools were attended by apprentices from merchant traders, masons, builders, architects, artists and goldsmiths. This would have been the normal schooling for an apprentice artist such as Leonardo. The teachers in such schools used textbooks that they usually wrote and published themselves called abbacus books or practica.

Luca Pacioli who was indeed Leonardo's maths teacher but he was not principally the theoretician he wrote and published the most extensive compendium of contemporary mathematics at the end of the 16th century but this was also a practica covering principally practical mathematics including the first printed account of double entry book keeping. He also wrote a book on linear perspective that was famously illustrated by Leonardo and equally infamously plagiarized the work on linear perspective of Piero della Francesca.

It is entirely correct to categorize Leonardo as an artist-engineer rather than a scientist, an very important group of innovators in the Renaissance but one that also goes back to the beginning of the High Middle Ages. Alberti who you describe as a humanist, which of course he was, was also an artist-engineer.

However to label him the first 'technologist' is an insult to all those who preceded him especial those such as Hero from Alexandria and Vitruvius from antiquity who acted as role models for their Renaissance successors.

I also think it is inaccurate and misleading to label him a fringe scientist because where he was active in scientific disciplines such as optics or anatomy his work was very conventional, very conservative and very mainstream.

What distinguishes Leonardo from his contemporaries is the breadth of his imagination and the extremely high quality of his illustrations

I hope that you aren't offended by my criticisms and I look forward to the next episode of your Leonardo lectures.

Thony C.

David Packwood

H, Thanks for your comments and the link to the Renaissance mathematicus site. That will be useful when checking facts and ideas about science in the renaissance.

I know that "scientist" or even "scientist-artist", assuming the two can be reconciled, are not really adequate to describe Leonardo. Like you, I thought the fringe category suited Leonardo best.

Thony C,

Not at all. If I've got it wrong you must tell me. I cringe with embarrssment over the Abbaco howler. I should have checked my facts more carefully, but I found it difficult to find information on the subject. Still, no excuse! Thanks for correcting me- I can amend notes for forthcoming lectures.

As for "technologist", that was Arasse's formulation, and I really had no opinion on it.I think Arasse was seduced by Levi-Strauss on the bricoleur idea.

The fringe connection is entirely mine. I accept that the areas he was working in, such as anatomy, medicine, hydraulics, were conventional, but I think I was hinting at Leonardo on the institutional fringe, something that was the result of his unorthodox research methods. You're right about the depth and breadth of Leonardo's imagination, and I guess I was looking for a metaphor or idea that would express the gap between him nas his contemporaries. It would be interesting to see what others think of the fringe analogy.

Thanks again for your contribution. Stop by again some time.

David

H Niyazi

Fabulous! I for one am very glad we have Thony C around to set us straight on these matters. "Artist-engineer" is exactly how I'm describing old Leo from now on.

Kind Regards
H

Donato

For the latest on Leonardo and Mona Lisa see: "Leonardo's Val di Chiana Map in the Mona Lisa", in Cartographica, 46:3, 2011. The article covers L's investigations and their application to his art.

web design Landon

It is spelt with 2'b's to differentiate it from abacus with which it has nothing to do, abbacus come from the Italian for to calculate. These were small private schools, which taught apprentices the basics of particle mathematics not only reckoning with the Hindu-Arabic numbers and book keeping but also geometry, trigonometry and depending on the abilities and preferences of the teacher optics and linear perspective. These schools were attended by apprentices from merchant traders, masons, builders, architects, artists and goldsmiths..

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