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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index D > Leonardo da Vinci Quotes > Nature

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Leonardo da Vinci
(15 Apr 1452 - 2 May 1519)

Italian painter, draftsman and physicist.


Leonardo da Vinci Quotes on Nature (10 quotes)

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La neciessitΰ θ maestra e tutrice della natura; La neciessitΰ θ tema e inventrice della natura e freno e regola eterna.
Necessity is the mistress and guide of nature. Necessity is the theme and the inventress, the eternal curb and law of nature.
— Leonardo da Vinci
S. K. M. III. 49a. As translated by Jean Paul Richter, in 'Philosophical Maxims', The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci: Compiled and Edited from the Original Manuscripts (1883), Vol. 2, 285, Maxim 1135.
Science quotes on:  |  Eternal (43)  |  Guide (46)  |  Inventor (49)  |  Law Of Nature (52)  |  Mistress (6)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Necessity (125)  |  Theme (8)

Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence as I said before with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.
— Leonardo da Vinci
'Movement and Weight', from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy (1938), Vol. 1, 546.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (268)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Reason (330)

In the mountains of Parma and Piacenza, multitudes of shells and corals filled with worm-holes may be seen still adhering to the rocks, and when I was making the great horse at Milan a large sack of those which had been found in these parts was brought to my workshop by some peasants... The red stone of the mountains of Verona is found with shells all intermingled, which have become part of this stone... And if you should say that these shells have been and still constantly are being created in such places as these by the nature of the locality or by potency of the heavens in these spots, such an opinion cannot exist in brains possessed of any extensive powers of reasoning because the years of their growth are numbered upon the outer coverings of their shells; and both small and large ones may be seen; and these would not have grown without feeding, or fed without movement, and here [embedded in rock] they would not have been able to move... The peaks of the Apennines once stood up in a sea, in the form of islands surrounded by salt water... and above the plains of Italy where flocks of birds are flying today, fishes were once moving in large shoals.
— Leonardo da Vinci
'Physical Geography', in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy (1938), Vol. 1, 355-6, 359.
Science quotes on:  |  Coral (9)  |  Fish (85)  |  Fossil (107)  |  Island (17)  |  Italy (4)  |  Mountain (111)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Peak (15)  |  Plain (24)  |  Sea (143)  |  Shell (35)

Nature being capricious and taking pleasure in creating and producing a continuous sucession of lives and forms because she knows that they serve to increase her terrestrial substance, is more ready and swift in her creating than time is in destroying, and therefore she has ordained that many animals shall serve as food one for the other; and as this does not satisfy her desire she sends forth frequently certain noisome and pestilential vapours and continual plagues upon the vast accumulations and herds of animals and especially upon human beings who increase very rapidly because other animals do not feed upon them.
— Leonardo da Vinci
'Philosophy', in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy (1938), Vol. 1 80.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Capricious (3)  |  Creation (211)  |  Destruction (80)  |  Disease (257)  |  Food (139)  |  Food Chain (6)  |  Form (210)  |  Herd (12)  |  Human (445)  |  Life (917)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Plague (34)  |  Pleasure (98)  |  Succession (39)

Nature is a source of truth. Experience does not ever err, it is only your judgment that errs in promising itself results which are not caused by your experiments.
— Leonardo da Vinci
The Notebook. As cited in Edward Schwartz, One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward (2003), 38, with caption “examining objects in all their diversity.” Also quoted in Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers (1983), 350.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (231)  |  Err (4)  |  Error (230)  |  Experience (268)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Judgment (72)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Promise (27)  |  Result (250)  |  Source (71)  |  Truth (750)

The body of the earth is of the nature of a fish... because it draws water as its breath instead of air.
— Leonardo da Vinci
'Philosophy', in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy (1938), Vol. 1 70.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (151)  |  Breath (24)  |  Earth (487)  |  Fish (85)  |  Water (244)

The eye, the window of the soul, is the chief means whereby the understanding can most fully and abundantly appreciate the infinite works of Nature; and the ear is second.
— Leonardo da Vinci
As quoted in Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers (1983), 350.
Science quotes on:  |  Appreciation (19)  |  Ear (21)  |  Eye (159)  |  Infinite (88)  |  Means (109)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Second (33)  |  Soul (139)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Window (25)  |  Work (457)

There is no result in nature without a cause; understand the cause and you will have no need of the experiment.
— Leonardo da Vinci
'Philosophy', in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy, (1938) Vol. 1, 70.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Result (250)  |  Understanding (317)

This work should commence with the conception of man, and should describe the nature of the womb, and how the child inhabits it, and in what stage it dwells there, and the manner of its quickening and feeding, and its growth, and what interval there is between one stage of growth and another, and what thing drives it forth from the body of the mother, and for what reason it sometimes emerges from the belly of its mother before the due time.
— Leonardo da Vinci
'Anatomy', in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy (1938), Vol. 1, 139.
Science quotes on:  |  Baby (18)  |  Child (189)  |  Conception (63)  |  Growth (111)  |  Man (345)  |  Mother (59)  |  Premature (17)  |  Womb (13)

Though human ingenuity may make various inventions which, by the help of various machines answering the same end, it will never devise any inventions more beautiful, nor more simple, nor more to the purpose than Nature does; because in her inventions nothing is wanting, and nothing is superfluous, and she needs no counterpoise when she makes limbs proper for motion in the bodies of animals.
— Leonardo da Vinci
W. An. IV. 184a (7). Translated by Jean Paul Richter, in 'Physiology', The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci: Compiled and Edited from the Original Manuscripts (1883), Vol. 2, 126, selection 837.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Beauty (171)  |  Body (193)  |  Devising (7)  |  Help (68)  |  Human (445)  |  Ingenuity (27)  |  Invention (283)  |  Limb (5)  |  Machine (133)  |  Making (26)  |  Motion (127)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Need (211)  |  Nothing (267)  |  Proper (27)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Simple (111)  |  Superfluous (8)  |  Want (120)


See also:
  • 15 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of da Vinci's birth.
  • The Science of Leonardo: Inside the Mind of the Great Genius of the Renaissance, by Fritjof Capra. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Leonardo da Vinci.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 90 -
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- 40 -
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