How Leonardo da Vinci Changed the World

TL:DR | When you hear polymath, or renaissance, who do you think of first? More than likely it is Leonardo Da Vinci. A man born centuries ago, who still leaves his mark on the modern world.

16 min read
This post is grounded in the thinking of this video, I highly recommend watching. 54min

Leonardo is a man of great genius, and far more than just an excellent painter. In fact when I think of Leo painting is an afterthought. This post is inspired by a solid piece of video content from the channel People Who Changed the World. Ironically at the time of this writing it is the ONLY video on the channel. However I felt that it deserved more attention.

Not to mention it gave me the opportunity to talk about one of humanity's greatest beings to have ever lived.

"He was an architect, an astronomer, a botanist, a cartographer, an engineer, a geologist, a hydrodynamicist, a mathematician, a musician, a theatre producer, a scientist, an inventor and much, much more."
-People Who Changed the World

Note: There will be lots of resources throughout the post, so keep going until the "Leonardo da Vinci is my Hero" section! 🙂

Why he is such a magnificent person!

From the streets of Milan to the art shops he grew up in, there was a lot to learn for little ol'Leonardo. Being a bastard he wasn't able to have learned Latin officially, and thereby also not allowed into the higher education.

That did not stop him though from cultivating social-interpersonal skills, hell-bent on understanding the physical world around him, and even the deep anatomy of the human body.

"a man of outstanding beauty and grace."

"his presence brought comfort to the most troubled soul."

"Leonardo was charming, attractive, and had many friends."

-Giorgio Vasari

It is this sort of gregarious behavior that I identify with the greatest. Although in his time personality types were not really a thing; I believe he was more of an ambivert like myself. That isn't just a projection either because he spent a considerable time alone, but also greatly enjoyed the company of others.

The sort of gentleman-like behavior that Vasari pointed out, is a prime example of the type of man I present in this post:

League of Charismatic Gentlemen
The manhood in life, whether it is protecting your family, or taking care of them at home when SO is doing the opposite. Reaching the ideal of a Complete Man.

Living in a time of Renaissance

The whole era was that of chasing enlightenment, and fulfilling the sublime essence of humanity. Especially in Italy where Leo resided for quite some time in various locales.

It should be noted that there are notable comparable renaissance examples from other parts of the world. However I feel that the Italian one is that of the most known in the western world, perhaps in no small part due to Leonardo.

A man of the Renaissance who tried it all

He is known for his paintings, and yet he is far more than that. His main skills are that of science and engineering. He was a Scientist, not an Artist!

The beauty of this time too was that they were chasing the deepest reaches of knowledge, art, and the human experience. The money flowed, so all that was left was the challenge of figuring it all out.

Theoretical and Technical Skills

He is often called the first systems engineer, and is highly capable in many forms of mechanics. From a basic level of understanding of flight, hydrodynamics, levers and pulleys, gears, and more.

He often helped his patrons with making their theater performances much more dramatic. Either by helping the actors fly in the air, and even making a robotic suit to move on it's own (no one in the suit) with the help of a puppeteer.

His skills in the laws of physics for example allowed him to design things like the first parachute, and he even mapped out a city using the technology of the time.

Science – Leonardo da Vinci

Knowing Everything in a Time WHEN YOU COULD

Here is where a lot of people find polymathy to be "silly", for those who are unaware and hear the word polymath; They think it means to know everything, but that is further from the truth.

Polymathy is that of wide ranging learning's/knowledge areas, but that of deep knowledge. Akin to a multi-specialist, and whether or not you did it via juggling all of the areas of knowledge, or did them serialized like most people. The polymathic descriptor remains.

In the renaissance they were quite far along by that point, and so it could easily be assumed that they knew all IN THAT TIME. Which is why the curiosity of the artists of the time were so potent. From Da Vinci to Michelangelo, the masters strive to learn as much as they could.

In that time Leonardo really did know most of all there was to know, at least when it came to sciences and art. I doubt he spoke more than say Italian and French, as he was never formally taught in Latin. However perhaps he taught himself in secret, and who knows what other areas he failed to ever learn. Point is that even the guy we see as a 15 area or more polymath, did NOT know everything.

Knowing a lot vs Knowing Everything

People have called me a polymath purely because I am multidisciplinary. I usually politely correct them, as I feel that I have a lot more to learn. However maybe that polymathic mentality is what makes me? In any case knowing a lot of things, but in a deeper manner I think is more useful that knowing everything. However there is still a point to be made of being a novice in dozens of fields. Even just a micro-step towards understanding a subject will give you more clarity than a layperson.

Using that clarity, you can then transcontextualize that knowledge into the areas of knowledge you already know. Giving you brand new perspectives, that you wouldn't ever see if you were just stuck in your trench.

A Modern Equivalent

Think of the Full Stack developer, or the T-shaped marketer, or really any combination of fields into one person. Being multidisciplinary is the default mode for humanity.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.”
- Robert Anson Heinlein

Another option in lieu of an old time renaissance person, is the PolyInnovator! ;)

Four ways in which Leonardo da Vinci was ahead of his time
Engineer, artist, mathematician, thinker: Leonardo da Vinci was all these and more.
The Art and Heart of Leonardo da Vinci
Laila Hussey marvels at works from the great master being shown for the first time in the UK

What is a Polymath?

He is certainly what we would call a genuine polymath, someone who embodied the complexity of the term. I go into it in more greater detail in the post linked right below, but in essence it is someone with Wide ranging knowledge and learning.

Take like a jack of all trades and times it by ten. I created a spectrum for multidisciplinary people and terms, which is really useful in this case. There means that however, there is a difference between what is a polymath and a "true/genuine" polymath.

This is where a lot of people claim ego, or perhaps that it is that of reputation kind of thing. However it is not, for it is simply differentiating the levels of knowledge. Some people call me a polymath, due to the fact that they see me as highly multidisciplinary, which is true. Although I call myself more of a "Proto-Polymath", as I feel I still have a LONG way to go. Many researchers in the world of polymathy would agree, as there is a difference. That difference being the amount of impact one has had in the subjects of expertise.

In particular of the case of Leonardo, not only did he leave a major progress forward in most fields he worked in (that is if they were published), but he also did it in so so many areas. Close to around 15 areas of expertise, which some were that of a journeyman level, but still that is significantly higher than most people.

What is a Polymath?
Here is a video relation to this post, as well as the PolyCast! A master of one, or a master of many?What drives you to do the things you do in your life?What if I were to tell you that the whole world has been lying to you

A man of Art or Science?

51 min
Leonardo Da Vinci - The Complete Works -
Leonardo Da Vinci - The complete works, large resolution images, ecard, rating, slideshow and more! One of the largest Leonardo Da Vinci resource on the web!

The Insatiable Curiosity

Something I think comes from his polymathic mindset, is that he had many skills. Much of which he could be paid for quite dearly, such as what he is most known for: painting. Many high ranking people throughout his life wanted to pay him to paint something for them, but he would refuse so he could work on something he was interested in.

I find myself in a similar stance, for I teach fitness/swimming in a unique way, and I often get requests (especially for swimming). However I find myself wanting to do other things, and the time opportunity cost is too much.

"every week he would write a long list of things he wanted to learn."
Leonardo da Vinci: 500 years after his death his genius shines as bright as ever
Painter, sculptor, inventor, engineer, mathematician, anatomist: has anyone ever surpassed the genius of Leonardo?

Anatomy, Hydrodynamics, Aerodynamics

He is thought to have dissected around 30 bodies, and had studied the anatomical structure of the human form. He is also said to have stayed in impeccable shape all of his life, even into old age, which as a fitness trainer myself really resonates.

He would go out and buy caged birds so he could see them fly away.

The great show Da Vinci's Demons has a scene that depicts this very concept well.

Da Vinci’s Aerodynamics
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most creative genius of the Renaissance, had an enduring infatuation with flying during the period between 1488 to 1514, a time when Columbus discovered America. His obsession drove him to write a collection of […]

Curiosity is a Skill

Being curious about the external world around is innate from birth. It is how we develop in our initial years. However somewhere along the way you stop being you... wait that is a Rocky quote. Somewhere along the way you grow out of that stage, and it is because it is taught out of us.

“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education”
- Mark Twain

We must realize this as early as possible, and entertain those ideas that pop up in our head. What if we do this, or that, and allow ourselves to indulge our curiosity every once in a while. The more you do it, the stronger it gets.

The Mona Lisa and the Mandela Effect

There is much debate on whether or not the Mona Lisa is smiling or frowning, and some have even come to the idea that it is the work of the Mandela Effect. If you were to look up the painting, you would see that of her smiling, however I grew up knowing that it was a frown.

A very pretty frown, and it still changed when you would change perspective. However still a frown nonetheless. Am I from an alternate timeline, or are you? haha I digress.

"For this reason, Leonardo created “ambiguous” facial expression. In ambiguous expressions there is a constant “change: of appearance, hence dynamicity. Leonardo developed the technique of "sfumato". "

What is the Mandela Effect?

What Is the Mandela Effect?
The Mandela Effect occurs when a large mass of people believes that an event occurred when it did not. Explore examples and possible explanations.

What would the World look like had his Works been Published?

He discovered many things such as ocular anatomy, laser physics, heart structure, and much more. Far ahead of the global common science community.

We might have achieved a great progress the likes of the industrial revolution, had the world seen his works. Although this is simply conjecture at this point, as we can't ever truly know!

Something in the first video that was mentioned, that would have for sure made an impact on the world, is that of his work with dentistry. More than likely he was the first person in the world to accurately describe the four different kinds of human teeth. This is just one example of the worldly things he did, created, or discovered.

Architect and War Monger

As someone who was opposed to the brutality of war, the fascination of war machines, and pushing the science ever forward. It got Leonardo to dream up ever fascinating machines.

Although it wasn't until he saw the ferocity of war that he decided to quit designing new machines.

It also should be noted that he would put intentional flaws in his designs, so that unless he was the one to make them then they wouldn't work.

The First Smart City

A city designed to stop the spread of diseases, improve the state of life for denizens, even a sewer system.

He was one of the first to really come up with the idea of a modern age city, and it is too bad he wasn't able to go through with it.

The Fireside Codex

This section of the Omniblog is meant for my journaling, as I never got around to doing that much. I feel that if I don't publish something for other people, then it isn't worth it. However I have since learned that isn't the case, as being able to get your thoughts down is crucial for mental health.

Sometimes I have random ideas I want to write down, maybe even share, and so I created this fireside (as in fireside closeknit chats), and codex as in many entries. To be like a public journal, and perhaps I'll still work on my private journals in too. However I wanted to publish as much as I could, even if they are not actual blog posts. Just so I don't make the same mistake as my hero Leonardo did.

Fireside Codex 🧠 - PolyInnovator LLC | Official Website for Dustin Miller
Welcome to Dustin Miller’s Fireside Codex by me, Dustin Miller POLYINNOVATOR. A spinoff of sorts of the PolyInnovator blog, which think of this like a bullet journal, personal codex, or Da Vincian notes. #Polymath of #Innovation

Leonardo da Vinci is my Hero

To sum all of this up I think it is fair to say I adore Leonardo, and in fact I was nearly named after the ninja turtle. In turn was named after the polymath renaissance person.

Even in 7th grade I was curious about him, and did a presentation on him. I hope to achieve the same level of accomplishments in my own life, and I hope that you can too. It is why I create the polymath-niche content I do, for it can help others get to a more organized state. Fighting the perfectionism that plagued Leo, and adding to the world in unprecedented ways.

I love Thomas Frank's channels
"Present yourself based on who you want to BECOME."

This is a major motivating factor behind me creating PolyInnovator in the first place. Learning how to market yourself, and my ability to learn something quickly if I need to.

This is an Example of what my PolyPro Posts Look like

Meaning that the paid subscription gets you long form, information/wisdom dense, and overall just full of value posts like this. Topics may vary, but the quality does not! You can expect awesome detailed posts like this one!

This post actually started out as a short complimentary piece of the first video on this page, but as I started writing the passion overtook. Not to mention a plethora of other great Da Vinci videos I have found over the years were sitting there not being seen.

I thought this post was a good basis for a PolyPRO post, which is that of a long form mega-post. Otherwise I'd have made another redundant one down the line.

I really hope you enjoy this!

Check out the PolyPro membership:

The PolyInnovator Pro Membership | PolyPro
If you would like to support these endeavors like the Modegree, and help them grow!Getting exclusive access to the various content types like videos, omniblogs, polycasts, and more!

Additional Resources:

Gain insight into the mind of a genius and the fundamental scientific and artistic principles he discovered.
Leonardo da Vinci: Paintings, Drawings, Quotes, Facts, & Bio
Leonardo da Vinci was a true genius who graced this world with his presence from April 15, 1452 to May 2, 1519. Like Athens in the age of Pericles, Renaissance Italy is a summit in human history. Today, no name better seems to symbolize that age than Leonardo da Vinci.
Genius Immersive Experience - BIG Borealis
Creative journey through the eyes of Leonardo da Vinci, today. The next-generation immersive show and an absolutely new experience.
Leonardo da Vinci in the Genius Immersive Experience in Berlin | Livegreenblog
Read Some might say that the Genius Immersive Experience in Berlin is yet another of the many immersive commercial exhibitions popping up everywhere lately
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian Renaissance artist, architect, engineer, and scientist. He is renowned for his ability to observe and capture nature, scientific phenomena, and human emotions...
Be More Creative: 7 Things to Learn From Leonardo da Vinci
The Italian master had skill and great ideas, but he also had something else: the ability to look at the world around him differently.
Universal Leonardo: Leonardo da Vinci online › Flying machine – Ms B Fol 74v-75r
Universal Leonardo is an exciting and innovative project aimed at deepening our understanding of Leonardo da Vinci through a series of international exhibitions linked together to illustrate the unity and diversity of the work of one of the greatest thinkers of all time.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex on the Flight of Birds | National Air and Space Museum
Mirror writing: neurological reflections on an unusual phenomenon
Mirror writing is an unusual script, in which the writing runs in the opposite direction to normal, with individual letters reversed, so that it is most easily read using a mirror. This writing is seen in healthy individuals; it is also associated with ...
Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist
The largest ever exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the human body.
BBC NEWS | Health | Da Vinci clue for heart surgeon
Leonardo da Vinci: Facts & Biography
Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps most noted as an artist, was also an architect, inventor and chronicler of science, among other outlets for his talents.
What We Can Learn From Leonardo
Leonardo’s union of art, science, and design demonstrates the thinking needed to create sustainable societies.
Is Leonardo da Vinci a great artist or a great scientist?
Catalogues at the ready: one show posits Da Vinci as a scientific genius, another as the absolute artist. For him, such divisions were meaningless, writes Jonathan Jones
Human Body Part That Stumped Leonardo da Vinci Revealed
A new exhibit highlights the incredible anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.

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