A Brief Commentary on Leonardo da Vinci’s Thoughts on Art and Life

A Brief Commentary on Leonardo da Vinci’s Thoughts on Art and Life

Leonardo da Vinci Self Portrait

(PD) - Leonardo da Vinci Self Portrait

Larry Neal Gowdy

Copyright ©2012-2021 — updated February 10, 2021

The warmth of my heart,

it delights of the moment,

sharing the knowledge that the beauty of today,

is not the experience of yesterday.

When a question is raised about a topic, my personal preference is to investigate the topic myself, to enter into and discover by myself through firsthand experience what the answer is and what the answer means to me personally. Only after I have reached a satisfactory conclusion do I then read books on the topic so that I might glean an idea of how other people interpret the topic. By my first having a reasonably solid idea of how the topic relates to me personally, I can then much better judge the books’ words so as to determine if the books were written from firsthand knowledge or if the books were merely repeating the words from other books. Within the topics of philosophy, theology, psychology, and several others, little is as meaningless than to merely memorize another person’s words; the memorized words cannot be a substitute for firsthand experience.

On February 28, 2012, while I was building a new hobby website for the purpose of refreshing my experience with Microsoft® servers and databases, I visited Project Gutenburg to glean a few authors’ names to lend me ideas and inspirations of how to arrange the new site’s focus on art and other quality topics. A curiosity arose of Albert Einstein’s works — and though he was not known to be an artist, my curiosity gnawed for relief — and with my entering "Einstein" in the search box I received a list of several of his books plus "Thoughts on Art and Life" by Leonardo da Vinci (translated by Maurice Baring). I thought to myself that it was a bit odd to see Leonardo da Vinci’s name placed in the search results, and I then also thought it to be no less odd that I had never read any of his works. Intrigued, I downloaded the book and quickly found a delight in his words.

(Update March 6, 2012: Shortly after uploading this page I began reading Jean Paul Richter's 1888 translation of The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. It appears that several of the notes that I commented on may have been referring to a topic different than what I had interpreted. Without the surrounding text within Thoughts on Art and Life the notes were taken out of context and allowed to present ideas that may not have been Leonardo's original intentions. When I have finished the notebooks I will return here to update the page and to clarify which of the notes most likely point to different topics.)

Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa

"4. Recognizing as I do that I cannot make use of subject matter which is useful and delightful, since my predecessors have exhausted the useful and necessary themes, I shall do as the man who by reason of his poverty arrives last at the fair, and cannot do otherwise than purchase what has already been seen by others and not accepted, but rejected by them as being of little value. I shall place this despised and rejected merchandise, which remains over after many have bought, on my poor pack, and I shall go and distribute it, not in the big cities, but in the poor towns, and take such reward as my goods deserve."

Most topics have been discussed so frequently in schools and books that the topics have lost the thrill of new discovery for many individuals. I found a certain degree of satisfaction in learning that the watering down of topics is not a new thing, but rather has plagued thinkers for many centuries. Two examples of the misuse of a topic are with today's fictional books like The Da Vinci Code and the inappropriate use of classical music. As some of us now cannot enjoy listening to Swan Lake without also recalling memories of Bugs Bunny dancing in a tutu, so has the life of Leonardo now been tainted with many people interpreting his talents within a light that is not true. The excessive discussions of Plato and other writers, the discussions have weakened the importance of the topics themselves, and it is within my desire to not have my own works tainted with empty discussions that I simply avoid writing about the topics. For me, there is a bit of pleasure in possessing topics that remain delightful because of their having remained hidden from discussions.

"5. All knowledge which ends in words will die as quickly as it came to life, with the exception of the written word: which is its mechanical part."

His thoughts give an added angle of my own, that a knowledge built only upon the memorizing of other men’s words cannot be of much value, and the knowledge must fade with time because the knowledge is not based on firsthand experience, nor does the knowledge become a reality through the person using the words to personally become what the words point to. Possessing the knowledge of the ingredients of bread is of no value if a person never bakes bread, and similarly, a knowledge of virtue does not make a person virtuous, nor does the knowledge better mankind.

"6. Avoid studies the result of which will die together with him who studied."

I do sympathize with Leonardo’s thought, that the findings of a study should be made public so that the study will not have only been of profit to the person who studied. Nevertheless, some topics cannot be shared, not for any reason, and though it is possible that Leonardo knew so, still the unanswerable question lingered of whether or not he had learned of the things that cannot be taught nor so much as hinted. If a person has not yet discovered a thing that cannot be shared, then the person has not yet reached far. It was upon reading #80 that I discovered that Leonardo had indeed discovered things that cannot be taught, and my delight in his words grew ever deeper.

Leonardo da Vinci Head of a Woman

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci Head of a Woman

"16. The fame of the rich man dies with him; the fame of the treasure, and not of the man who possessed it, remains. Far greater is the glory of the virtue of mortals than that of their riches. How many emperors and how many princes have lived and died and no record of them remains, and they only sought to gain dominions and riches in order that their fame might be ever-lasting. How many were those who lived in scarcity of worldly goods in order to grow rich in virtue; and as far as virtue exceeds wealth, even in the same degree the desire of the poor man proved more fruitful than that of the rich man. Dost thou not see that wealth in itself confers no honour on him who amasses it, which shall last when he is dead, as does knowledge?--knowledge which shall always bear witness like a clarion to its creator, since knowledge is the daughter of its creator, and not the stepdaughter, like wealth."

A common behavior among prison inmates is the tendency to act first and think last; the inability to rationalize an action is one of the primary reasons why the individuals commit crimes. Among the public, some individuals have difficulty planning their future of the day, while other individuals never seem to recognize similarly simple analyses of determining which is the more economical, that of paying a dollar for a cheap product that must be replaced monthly for a lifetime, or to pay ten dollars for a quality product that never needs replacing. There is a measurable ignorance in the man who only sees material riches; he cannot judge the value. A million years from now all of us will be dead; what will have been the value of our lives? Except for the moment’s pleasure of today, will our efforts have long-term value, or did we trade our life for a cheap dollar product? The man of virtue, he influences the world in a positive manner, and his labors of today will continue influencing the lives of all living beings far into the future. The man of material riches, his short-sightedness consumes the world within a negativity that harms all living beings now and far into the future. The man who cannot see beyond his own self, it is a measure of low intelligence.

"20. Just as food eaten without appetite is a tedious nourishment, so does study without zeal damage the memory by not assimilating what it absorbs."

If only the public schools of today would apply a similar knowledge to the methods of teaching. Yes, to learn a thing well requires that the individual have a strong desire to learn of the topic, and without the desire the person would likely be profited best by not being forced to memorize what the person finds to be boring or repulsive. There is no value nor profit in ruining a child’s mind by forcing him/her to memorize words that the child does not want to memorize.

"22. So vile a thing is a lie that even if it spoke fairly of God it would take away somewhat from His divinity; and so excellent a thing is truth that if it praises the humblest things they are exalted. There is no doubt that truth is to falsehood as light is to darkness; and so excellent a thing is truth that even when it touches humble and lowly matters, it still incomparably exceeds the uncertainty and falsehood in which great and elevated discourses are clothed; because even if falsehood be the fifth element of our minds, notwithstanding this, truth is the supreme nourishment of the higher intellects, though not of disorderly minds. But thou who feedest on dreams dost prefer the sophistry and subterfuges in matters of importance and uncertainty to what is certain and natural, though of lesser magnitude."

When a person claims that a mathematical formula must be summed correctly else the answer is false and a disgrace, but the individual also claims that one’s own thoughts do not require a similar accuracy, is that not hypocrisy and ignorance?

Leonardo da Vinci Lady With an Ermine

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci Lady With an Ermine

"24. I am well aware that not being a literary man the presumptuous will think that they have the right to blame me on the ground that I am not a man of letters. Vainglorious people! Know they not that I could make answer as Marius did to the Roman people, and say: They who make a display with the labours of others will not allow me mine? They will say that being unskilled in letters I cannot find true expression for the matters of which I desire to treat; they do not know that in my subjects experience is a truer guide than the words of others, for experience was the teacher of all great writers, and therefore I take her for guide, and I will cite her in all cases."

Mankind appears to have continued on the same path as in Leonardo’s day, that of individuals without experience claiming that unless the researcher places his research into elementary words simple enough for the man of words to understand, then the man of words claims that the researcher’s discoveries cannot be valid. Today’s behavior of skepticism continues preaching the same message, that if you cannot convince an ignorant inexperienced skeptic of a truth, then the skeptic will claim that your knowledge must be false. And here did I find my greatest pleasure in Leonardo’s words, that of the truth that firsthand experience is the only worthy teacher in the matters of life.

"25. Although I may not be able to quote other authors, as they do, I can quote from a greater and more worthy source, namely, experience,--the teacher of their masters. They go about swelled with pride and pomposity, dressed up and bedight, not with their own labour, but with that of others; and they will not concede me mine. And if they despise me, who am a creator, far more are they, who do not create but trumpet abroad and exploit the works of other men, to be blamed."

Yes, very much agreed and with great zeal, that more knowledge and accurate knowledge is discovered within experience than what can be found in any word. Humanity of today trods along with a similar belief as Leonardo’s day, that of people who memorize words claiming that their memories of other men’s words somehow make the memorizers learned or even useful. It is a great show of ignorance to quote another man’s words and then claim one’s self intelligent upon the grounds that someone else thought the words, and not the memorizer. It is upon the lack of experience that the behavior of skepticism so horrifically with a profound lack of mental function claims that all men feel the same emotions, the same manner of beliefs, the same manner of happiness, and the same manner of thinking.

Individuals who repeat authors’ words, but who do no observation themselves, they become the source and vehicle of lies, perpetuating ignorance and false teachings that are so very easily proven false through firsthand experience.

"27. Men who are creators and interpreters of nature to man, in comparison with boasters and exploiters of the works of others, must be judged and esteemed like the object before the mirror as compared with its image reflected in the mirror.--one being something in itself, and the other nothing. Little to nature do they owe, since it is merely by chance they wear the human form, and but for it I might include them with herds of cattle."

Popular sciences and philosophies are promoted the most by individuals who themselves have performed no experimentations, no research, nor in any manner contributed to science and philosophy, but who have only memorized the words. Is that not religiosity?

"28. A well lettered man is so because he is well natured, and just as the cause is more admirable than the effect, so is a good disposition, unlettered, more praiseworthy than a well lettered man who is without natural disposition."

Very well stated.

"29. Against certain commentators who disparage the inventors of antiquity, the originators of science and grammar, and who attack the creators of antiquity; and because they through laziness and the convenience of books have not been able to create, they attack their masters with false reasoning."

And so does the nature of man continue; philosophical debates have raged for over three-thousand years, and of the untold millions of individuals who voiced their opinions within the debates, how many of the individuals had firsthand experience in the topics? The number would be infinitesimally small.

"30. It is better to imitate ancient than modern work."

There is a certain joy and curiosity in Leonardo’s words, for I wonder if the preference for the older more established works of art and literature is a psychological foundation of standards of what evolved to produce modern works, or if the preferences are merely based on one’s personal interpretation of beauty. Perhaps it might be the person’s own personal history, of having grown up within the person’s own era and the era’s evolving choices of style? As a man currently in his eighties may still hold a fondness for the styling of cars made in the forties, and a man in his fifties may prefer the styling of cars made in the seventies, does not the trend suggest that our preferences may be weighed by what style was present when we were at specific phases of growth? The preference of style appears to be heavily influenced by one’s own personal psychological structuring that formed within one’s own personal physiological growth patterns. But even if so, then why is classical art still so highly prized by the segment of humans who prefer quality, and if classical art remains valued regardless of one’s own era of personal growth patterns, then does that not suggest that good classical art remains interpreted to be of quality because it is indeed of quality?

Leonardo da Vinci The Adoration of the Magi

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci The Adoration of the Magi

"31. Wisdom is the daughter of experience."

Again very well stated.

"32. Wrongly men complain of experience, which with great railing they accuse of falsehood. Leave experience alone, and turn your lamentation to your ignorance, which leads you, with your vain and foolish desires, to promise yourselves those things which are not in her power to confer, and to accuse her of falsehood. Wrongly men complain of innocent experience, when they accuse her not seldom of false and lying demonstrations."

Today the accusations continue, including those from some individuals who claim that experience is unnecessary and even undesirable. The words of Leonardo’s, if presented without his name, might be easily misinterpreted to be those of a modern man’s who is rebuking the folly of organized skepticism.

In all of my life, always and without variation, the only men who voiced an objection to my words were men who themselves had only read books and who had no personal experience within the topics. Shame and ridicule is heaped upon a man’s name when he boasts of knowledge and yet has no experience. Without firsthand experience, all beliefs, all of them, every one, are as lies to one's self.

"35. All our knowledge is the offspring of our perceptions."

Again very well stated, and #35 is parallel to #32.

"40. Avoid the precepts of those thinkers whose reasoning is not confirmed by experience."

The words of Leonardo’s are over five-hundred years old, and yet they are as valid and fresh as if they were spoken today. Without a person first confirming one’s beliefs through firsthand experience, the person cannot know anything of the topic. Regardless of what the schools and churches may claim, it is not possible to know of a thing without having experienced the thing, and any man who claims an understanding of a topic without his first having lived the topic firsthand, his writings are without value, and are a waste of paper.

"41. Man discourseth greatly, and his discourse is for the greater part empty and false; the discourse of animals is small, but useful and true: slender certainty is better than portentous falsehood."

Enthusiastic applause.

Leonardo da Vinci Portrait of a lady from the court of milan

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci Portrait of a Lady from the Court of Milan

"42. What is an element? It is not in man's power to define the quiddity of the elements, but a great many of their effects are known."

If after five-hundred years man continues to believe that he can know the nature of a thing by measuring it with mathematics, then it appears that the belief will not go away, and forever man will remain trapped within his narrowness of mind. Someday, if the planet survives man’s ignorance, a new man may appear and quickly leave the planet, allowing old man to remain and dwell with those who more closely resemble his own mind-form, that of apes, monkeys, and cattle. If a person does not want his future family tree to become associated with monkeys, then the person should choose higher behavior and thought today.

Leonardo da Vinci La Bella Principessa

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci La Bella Principessa

"45. O contemplators of things, do not pride yourselves for knowing those things which nature by herself and her ordination naturally conduces; but rejoice in knowing the purposes of those things which are determined by your mind."

Self-observation, a thing that is too often ignored and rarely taught, is the very thing that is paramount in the knowing of one’s own experiences. If people self-observed, then there would not have been three-thousand years of debates over the simple word "ethics."

"46. Consider, O reader, how far we can lend credence to the ancients who strove to define the soul and life,--things which cannot be proved; while those things which can be clearly known and proved by experience remained during so many centuries ignored and misrepresented! The eye, which so clearly demonstrates its functions, has been up to my time defined in one manner by countless authorities; I by experience have discovered another definition."

The act of observing, and then self-observing, and then rationalizing one’s self-observation, through the firsthand experiences a man can come to recognize the true definition of anything, and the definition is his alone.

"48. Those who seek to abbreviate studies do injury to knowledge and to love because the love of anything is the daughter of this knowledge. …It is true that impatience, the mother of stupidity, praises brevity, as if such persons had not life long enough to enable them to acquire a complete knowledge of one subject such as the human body! And then they seek to comprehend the mind of God, in which the universe is included, weighing it and splitting it into infinite particles, as if they had to dissect it!"

…Just as Justinius did when he abridged the stories written by Trogus Pompeius, who had written elaborately the noble deeds of his forefathers, which were full of wonderful beauties of style; and thus he composed a barren work, worthy only of the impatient spirits who deem that they are wasting the time which they might usefully employ in studying the works of nature and mortal affairs. But let such men remain in company with the beasts; let dogs and other animals full of rapine be their courtiers, and let them be accompanied with these running ever at their heels! And let the harmless animals follow, which in the season of the snows come to the houses begging alms as from their master."

Abbreviated studies, abbreviated sentences, abbreviated questions and answers, they all produce abbreviated intellects. If a narrow mind were not so short, it might recognize that the practicing of violin makes a person a violinist, as does the practicing of writing make a person a writer, as does the practicing of brevity make the mind abbreviated.

"57. The lover is moved by the object he loves as the senses are by sensible things; and they unite and become one and the same. The work is the first thing which is born of this union; if the thing loved is base, the lover becomes base. When what is united is in harmony with that which receives it, delight, pleasure and satisfaction ensue. When the lover is united to the beloved he rests there; when the burden is laid down it finds rest there."

It appears to be a logic that continues to allude the greater portion of man, that by what things he loves and associates himself with, so does he become. If a man’s love is in material products, then his life has no value beyond what the products may momentarily offer, and if the man’s love is to memorize other men’s words, then the man’s life will vanish when the words are no longer spoken.

"75. Why does the eye perceive things more clearly in dreams than with the imagination when one is awake?"

That is an excellent question.

"80. How by the aid of a machine many may remain for some time under water. And how and why I do not describe my method of remaining under water and of living long without food; and I do not publish nor divulge these things by reason of the evil nature of man, who would use them for assassinations at the bottom of the sea and to destroy and sink ships, together with the men on board of them; and notwithstanding I will teach other things which are not dangerous...."

I am astonished, astounded, delighted, and sympathetic. Yes, I am familiar with a similar stance, one of having devised various gadgets that might be useful, but I do not speak of them in public due to the hatefulness and destructiveness of man. One device may heal and be of a great benefit to mankind, but no new invention has ever escaped the misuse of it being formed into a weapon, and so it remains the better good that humanity never learns of the devices. It is of no value to anyone if a technology cannot be used properly, and until humanity first learns to behave rationally, most technologies must remain hidden. It is therefore of profit to speak of positive things, the learning and becoming the thing of virtue, and once man has learned the simple thing, then he will be given the complex thing.

In past centuries there was a thing that was common among most all humans in developed cultures, and the thing was known to have specific uses, but the uses were not further developed into a machine-like nature to enable enhanced effects of the thing, and in the twentieth century all governments caused a general disuse of the thing. Men who memorize words, they claim that the thing is impossible, and it is the destructive nature of humanity that keeps the machines hidden. The day that man attains virtue, that will be the day that he will also walk the stars and discover that his ancestors were pitiful.

"88. Every loss which we incur leaves behind it vexation in the memory, save the greatest loss of all, that is, death, which annihilates the memory, together with life."

It may be well established in psychology that negative thoughts ruin the mind, but where is the knowledge applied? Men of words, who memorize other men’s words, they claim of themselves to be educated and intelligent, but if the knowledge is not applied, then it is obvious that the men knew and know nothing. Only the most ignorant of men could believe that their memorized knowledge is not recognized as folly by men of experience and logic.

"92. That which can be lost cannot be deemed riches. Virtue is our true wealth and the true reward of its possessor; it cannot be lost, it never deserts us until life leaves us. Hold property and external riches with fear; they often leave their possessor scorned and mocked at for having lost them."

Very well stated. He who places value in being praised by buffoons for having material riches, so will the buffoons ridicule the man if he loses the riches. Observe, he with material riches, his standard has placed himself as subservient and below that of buffoons. Where is the intelligence in such a behavior? Virtue is a thing of value that survives all, and virtue has no lord above it, for virtue is itself of the supreme good.

Within the lower caste, there is no potential for the individuals to attain personal worth, and for them their only possessions will be of material things. Within the higher caste, the individuals have the potential for personal worth, and the individuals attain that value and worthiness through virtue. Which caste that a person belongs, is by the person’s own choice.

"100. As a well spent day affords happy sleep, so does a life profitably employed afford a happy death."

The men who wail during the last moments of their life, how pathetic it must be to labor all of one’s life for material riches, and then to find the whole of one’s life wasted and lost, and not lost by upon the measure of what someone else might say, but upon one’s own measure of having determined one’s own self an utter failure.

"110. Here is a thing which the more it is needed the more it is rejected: and this is advice, which is unwillingly heeded by those who most need it, that is to say, by the ignorant.

Here is a thing which the more you fear and avoid it the nearer you approach to it, and this is misery; the more you flee from it the more miserable and restless you will become. When the work comes up to the standard of the judgment, this is a bad sign for the judgment; and when the work excels the standard of the judgment, this is the worst sign, as occurs when a man marvels at having worked so well; and when the standard of the judgment exceeds that fulfilled by the work, this is a sign of perfection; and if the man is young and be thus disposed, he will without doubt grow into an excellent workman: he will only accomplish few works. But they will be of a quality which will compel men to contemplate their perfection with admiration."

Experience is necessary, countless individuals have taught the same thing for millennia, and yet still today the advice has not been accepted, and apparently may never be. On misery, as all other things not wanted, to distance one’s self from the unwanted thing it is best to focus on what is wanted while ignoring the unwanted things; let the unwanted thing escape out of thought and out of memory, to a distance that it is no longer a part of one’s self. Fighting misery requires that the mind remain fixated on the misery, and as long as the mind retains thoughts of misery, so will misery forever remain present. To end anger, be compassionate, be happy, be friendly, be patient, be gentle, and never fight the anger. Become what is good, and if the good is full, there will be no room left for the bad.

"111. He who wishes to grow rich in a day will be hanged in a year.

He who offends others is not himself secure.

If you governed your body according to virtue you would not live in this world.

The worst evil which can befall the artist is that his work should appear good in his own eyes."

The man with a depth of virtue, his virtue must remain clean, not tainted with the anger and violence of mankind, and it is a natural and necessary thing for the man to remove himself into isolation so that he might experience a life of value and honor. Only the most ignorant of men claim that a pure white paint will remain white if mixed with dirty browns.

Among my first thoughts after being born was a displeasure with man-made products, with none of them being of a quality as what Nature so easily produces. No man can create a new material thing, all man-made objects are cheap imitations of what is imagined, and the objects are the mere reshaping of what already exists, but man does have the potential to become a thing of quality, that of being honest and of virtue, and if the artist is indeed talented and with quality, then his own inward balancing of scales will declare to him that his works are inferior and with great faults.

Leonardo da Head of a Young Woman

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci Head of a Young Woman


"128. Men will communicate with each other from the most distant countries, and reply.

Many will abandon their own habitations and take with them their own goods, and go and inhabit other countries.

Men will pursue the thing which they most greatly fear; that is to say, they will be miserable in order to avoid falling into misery.

Men standing in separate hemispheres will converse with each other, embrace each other, and understand each other's language."

The words of Leonardo’s likely appeared to be incredible and impossible in the fifteenth century, but today the predictions seem simplistic and obvious. Of all of my own predictions, all of them except an uncertain one have come to pass, and I am curious if the last prediction is valid or perhaps it might have just been the imagination of a five year old. If the prediction should be true, then shortly before or after I die an event will occur, and the world will not much enjoy it. Man has created his future, and as man cannot stop from destroying the world with microwaves if he does not first stop increasing microwave radiation, so likewise has man established a future that must arrive with the wailing of death and the ridicule from buffoons. If man were to choose the riches of virtue instead of the dirtiness of material possessions, man would then avoid an unpleasant future, but man is not capable of choosing the choice, and his future is certain.

Leonardo da Vinci Portrait of a Young Lady

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci Portrait of a Young Lady


"The painter's work will be of little merit if he takes the painting of others as his standard, but if he studies from nature he will produce good fruits; as is seen in the case of the painters of the age after the Romans, who continued to imitate one another and whose art consequently declined from age to age. After these came Giotto the Florentine, who was born in the lonely mountains, inhabited only by goats and similar animals; and he, being drawn to his art by nature, began to draw on the rocks the doings of the goats of which he was the keeper; and thus he likewise began to draw all the animals which he met with in the country: so that after long study he surpassed not only all the masters of his age, but all those of many past centuries. After him art relapsed once more, because all artists imitated the painted pictures, and thus from century to century it went on declining, until Tomaso the Florentine, called Masaccio, proved by his perfect work that they who set up for themselves a standard other than nature, the mistress of all masters, labour in vain."

And so does it remain today, that the copying of others is the production of plagiarism, of no value, and always leads to inferior work. Nature is the sole standard that all must be weighed, those of logic and the arts, as well as character. To achieve a higher grade, the man turns to Nature as his guide, and he ignores the popular beliefs of his era, while he remains separate and isolated, not gathering praises from buffoons, but rather striving ever higher to improve upon what works his hands created the moment before. There is the circus arena where men who copy other men’s words and arts perform for an audience of buffoons, and then there is the mountain top where the hermit hides while creating machines that heal blindness, and his honor is in virtue, measured by and blessed by Nature.

"5. Because writers have had no knowledge of the science of painting, they have not been able to describe its gradations and parts, and since painting itself does not reveal itself nor its artistic work in words, it has remained, owing to ignorance, behind the sciences mentioned above, but it has thereby lost nothing of its divinity. And truly it is not without reason that men have failed to honour it, because it does honour to itself without the aid of the speech of others, just as do the excellent works of nature. And if the painters have not described the art of painting, and reduced it to a science, the fault must not be imputed to painting and it is no less noble on that account, since few painters profess a knowledge of letters, as their life would not be long enough for them to acquire such knowledge. Therefore we ask, Is the virtue of herbs, stones and plants non-existent because men have been ignorant of it? Certainly not; but we will say that these herbs remained noble in themselves without the aid of human tongues or letters."

And so also exists the nature of blending personal attributes, that since there are no books written about the topic, therefore the word memorizers claim that the topic cannot be valid nor to even exist. It is within a greatly profound ignorance that the word memorizers have leaped to believe that their method of thinking is the one and only possible style of thinking in the whole universe, that somehow all intelligence must revolve solely around the word memorizer, and that anyone who dares object to such gross stupidity must be shunned and have the buffoons chant their angry grunts against such ideas. If the word memorizers had any firsthand experience, or even a coherent self-rationalized thought, they would know that each occupation develops for itself a natural manner of thinking that is best suited for that occupation and is not suitable for other occupations. The man who has dedicated his life to learning the hidden things in matters of the heart and soul, the man had to do so without words, and the man’s manner of thought processing required a cleanliness of thoughts, a cleanliness that is not possible within the dirtiness of aberrant words.

The behavior of word memorizing declares that a topic cannot be true unless a man can explain the topic within words so childishly simple that even a word memorizer can fully understand the topic. It remains an unfortunate reality that cannot be overcome, that humanity has been hoodwinked into believing that memorizing words is a smart thing, while foregoing experience, and the belief has resulted in the grievously stunted intellect of all who believe the belief, and I marvel that Leonardo da Vinci’s era was likely little different than today’s, and as I muse upon the future, it seems most logical to assume that the behavior of man will not change.

Leonardo da Vinci Ginevra de Benci

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci Ginevra de Benci

Leonardo da Vinci Ginevra de Benci details

(PD) Leonardo da Vinci Ginevra de Benci
the details are exquisite

Leonardo's thoughts were brief, and since he did not delve deeply into the topics to clarify what his other thoughts might be, then we cannot know for sure what he may have believed or perceived. Nevertheless, his topics do raise questions, and my curiosity is within Leonardo's choices of words, my wondering if his words might help describe to us a portion of his own manner of reasoning. If, as Leonardo stated, he was not highly skilled with words, then it is to be expected that his thoughts would not be elegantly presented, and it becomes our own responsibility to use caution and care when interpreting what message that he may have been hoping to convey. It is within the details that we find the greater art, whether it is Leonardo's or that of Nature's, and it benefits our own selves when we take the time to more closely inspect what otherwise might have been overlooked.

Whether or not Leonardo thought in two, three, or four dimensions, it is unknown, but to properly analyze his words it is necessary that the topic be raised so that we might place to ourselves questions and hypotheses, and here is where men like Leonardo still touch our lives today, not only by their art, but with the questions that their words raise within our own minds, and the value that Leonardo sought in virtue, it did find root, and as long as man keeps his history, Leonardo will remain alive and with honor in our thoughts.