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18. History of Science [Prof. Oliveira, Brazil]

Start Date:
6. June 2019, 14:45
Finish date:
6. June 2019, 15:45



The Mechanical Sciences in Leonardo da Vinci´s Work



The prominent figure of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) appears during the so-called Quattrocento (fifteenth century) of the Italian Renaissance. His main famous contemporaries include Sandro Botticeli (1445-1510), Rafael Sanzio (1483-1520), Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564), and Nicollo Machiavelli (1469-1527). Florence had been a remarkable city since the previous century as the political, economic, and cultural center of its region. Humanism and naturalism were relevant and a kind of driving force throughout that period, propelling a wide development of sciences, arts and technology. In this paper, only the fundamentals of Da Vinci’s production in mechanical sciences is presented, in relation to both theory and applied mechanics, including designs and constructions even if unfinished.In the History of Sciences, Leonardo da Vinci´s work is of fundamental importance. On the one hand, his multifaceted work encompasses several fields of knowledge which are the basis of studies in many areas. On the other hand, some of his activities are of an artistic nature combined with diversified technological knowledge leading to developments in previously disconnected areas, such as the biological sciences (anatomy and physiology) and engineering sciences. In addition, at the end of Da Vinci’s life the seventeenth century Scientific Revolution was beginning, transforming his scientific oeuvre into a kind of a bridge between the ancient sciences and scientific modernity, characterized by the new scientific method represented by Copernicus (1473-1543), Kepler (1571-1630), Ticho Brahe (1546-1601), Descartes (1596-1650), Galileo (1564-1642), Newton (1642-1727), and Leibniz (1646-1716). Lastly, the integrated form of developing knowledge (theoretical, empirical, pictorial, etc.,) made by Leonardo, using graphical expressions, led him to search for certain types of paradigms providing comparisons and analogies among different fields. These aspects of his work increase its importance in the context of rethinking epistemological questions related to our stage of scientific development characterized by automation, neurosciences, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanosciences, and nanotechnologies. In this presentation we will show the mechanical sciences in Leonardo´s work, including both theory as well as the machine sciences. With respect to theory, his ideas of motion and equilibrium will be presented in relation to Aristotelian physics. These studies show important aspects about ruptures of paradigms caused by the seventeenth century Scientific Revolution that can be considered in a broad sense of continuity versus ruptures, always a question that draws the attention of many historians of sciences.


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