Leonardo da Vinci Our Contemporary?

The “Ecohumanist” Code of Renaissance Sages

in Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
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This essay polemicizes with a number of historians who claim that the European Renaissance has either “failed” or “continues to recede from us at an accelerating rate” (Burke 1998: 41; Barzun 2000; Bouswma 2002). I explore and revalue the ideas and representations of Renaissance humanism and the way they become manifest in the work of Leonardo da Vinci. I argue three main points: Firstly, that there is a fascinating, and much underestimated, ecological strain in Leonardo’s opus, a view of relationship between humans and nature, which has a bearing on a paradigm shift required by the current environmental and social crisis. Secondly, in the project of re-imagining a sustainable future, there is much to learn from the way in which a small and subversive community of Renaissance umanisti managed—against all odds—to forge a ground-breaking ethical vision which became the foundation of Western modernity. Finally, both Leonardo’s legacy and a reinvention of humanity and nature in the ideas of the Renaissance writers and thinkers, draw attention to a unique code of “eco-humanism”—a value platform emphasizing human dignity, nature’s autonomy and authority, the importance of free inquiry and dialogue, as well as the codex of limitations to human pursuits.

Leonardo da Vinci Our Contemporary?

The “Ecohumanist” Code of Renaissance Sages

in Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

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For a critique see Russell Jacoby (1999) The End of Utopia: Politics Culture in an Age of Apathy; John Ralston Saul (2005) The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World.

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