Leonardo da Vinci as Scientist in Art: his fantastic Drawings and the Prototype of Scientific Uneasiness in an Unscientific Community
The possibilities of common interests for science and art hitherto discussed have depended upon similarities and differences in aim or method; the dangers exhibited historically arose in communities where scientific, artistic, religious, or philosophical enterprise had been ruined by failure to recognise these differences or to utilise the similarities with due regard to where they begin and end. But a certain unique example of individual personality remains to challenge any denial that within a single character the imaginative and the scientific could ever be synthesised: the mutual destructiveness of artistic and logical effort seems to be in abeyance for Leonardo da Vinci, and the intellectual balance to be as perfect as for anyone known to history. This remarkable individual is nevertheless one of the outstanding historical cases of frustrated allegiance, and the nature and source of his personal disaster may be of importance to the future relations between art, science, and society. The following chapters express a conviction that here was no maladjustment between science and art, as too often supposed, but between scientific philosophy and the habits of civilised society. It is conceivable that in Leonardo's tragedy may be found the clue to the only irreconcilable left when science, imaginative art, and religion have achieved mutual understanding.
The moral status of a scientific outlook, in a world burdened with the misuses of technology, raises problems no less urgent than the impact of science upon religion and philosophy. It has not yet been widely realised that Leonardo da Vinci, to earlier generations an object of curiosity as to the freakishness of cross-breeding