Learning from Leonardo: Decoding the Notebooks of a Genius

Learning from Leonardo: Decoding the Notebooks of a Genius

Hardback BK Currents (Hardcover)

By (author) Fritjof Capra

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  • Publisher: BERRETT-KOEHLER
  • Format: Hardback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 163mm x 239mm x 36mm | 748g
  • Publication date: 1 December 2013
  • Publication City/Country: San Francisco
  • ISBN 10: 1609949897
  • ISBN 13: 9781609949891
  • Sales rank: 262,069

Product description

Leonardo da Vinci was a brilliant artist, scientist, engineer, mathematician, architect, inventor, and even musician the archetypal Renaissance man. But he was also a profoundly modern man. Not only did Leonardo invent the empirical scientific method over a century before Galileo and Francis Bacon, but Capra's decade-long study of Leonardo's fabled notebooks reveals that he was a systems thinker centuries before the term was coined. At the very core of Leonardo's science, Capra argues, lies his persistent quest for understanding the nature of life. His science is a science of living forms, of qualities and patterns, radically different from the mechanistic science that emerged 200 years later. Because he saw the world as an integrated whole, Leonardo always applied concepts from one area to illuminate problems in another. His studies of the movement of water informed his ideas about how landscapes are shaped, how sap rises in plants, how air moves over a bird's wing, and how blood flows in the human body. His observations of nature enhanced his art, his drawings were integral to his scientific studies, and he brought art, science, and technology together in his beautiful and elegant mechanical and architectural designs. Capra describes seven defining characteristics of Leonardo da Vinci's genius and includes a list of over forty discoveries he made that weren't rediscovered until centuries later. Capra follows the organizational scheme Leonardo himself intended to use if he ever published his notebooks. So in a sense, this is Leonardo's science as he himself would have presented it. Obviously, we can't all be geniuses on the scale of Leonardo da Vinci. But his persistent endeavour to put life at the very centre of his art, science, and design and his recognition that all natural phenomena are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent are important lessons we can learn from. By exploring the mind of the preeminent Renaissance genius, we can gain profound insights into how to address the complex challenges of the 21st century.

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Author information

Fritjof Capra PhD, physicist and systems theorist, is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California. The Center advances schooling for sustainability. Dr. Capra is on the faculty of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program of the University of California, Berkeley. He also teaches at Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies in England, and frequently gives management seminars for top executives. Capra is the author of five international bestsellers, The Tao of Physics (1975), The Turning Point (1982), Uncommon Wisdom (1988), The Web of Life (1996), and The Hidden Connections (2002). His most recent book is The Science of Leonardo (2007).

Review quote

"This remarkable exposition of Leonardo's work provides in analysis and illustration not only the nature of genius but the intellectual epic that can unfold whenever the human mind is set free."--Edward o. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University, and author of the best-selling The Social Conquest of Earth and Letters to a Young Scientist " In this meticulously crafted work, Capra leads us into the mind and heart of Leonardo so that we experience firsthand his relentless curiosity, his desire to understand the living world on its own terms, his willingness to let go of treasured ideas and concepts in exchange for new ones. Journeying so intimately with Leonardo has given me a rich appreciation for the qualities of a Renaissance person, and what shines through above all is Leonardo's never-faltering love for that which he was observing: this beautiful, interwoven, life-sustaining planet."--Margaret Wheatley, author of So Far from Home and Leadership and the New Science