There’s a very important distinction between hagiography and biography, and unfortunately Andrei falls on the wrong side of this critical difference in this article on Leonardo. The Mona Lisa is famous because it’s famous. We humans are herd animals and do what we see others around us doing. Once enough people believe something it becomes the group norm. Just as Shakespeare is lauded for his “psychological insight” despite the fact so many of his characters lack any believable motivation. We choose to ignore uncomfortable facts that fail to conform to group beliefs. Secondly, Leonardo was in no way “the greatest engineer of all time.” Almost all of his inventions had zero probability of working because, not surprisingly, Leonardo lacked the understanding of basic physics necessary to grasp fluid dynamics etc. and calculus hadn’t been invented. Anyone foolish enough actually to construct a machine from Leonardo’s drawings and then entrust their life to it would instantly discover the error of their ways.

Leonardo was undoubtedly a fascinating man, and his was an astonishing age. But hagiography does nothing to enlighten us about either.

Written by

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store