Da Vincian Principle 5: Arte/Scienza

Arte/Scienza — The development of a balance between science and art, logic and imagination. (Whole-brain thinking)

The terms left-brained and right-brained came into popular parlance through the Nobel prize-winning research of Professor Roger Sperry. Sperry discovered that, in most cases, the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex processes logical, analytical thinking while the right hemisphere processes imaginative, big-picture thinking. Seekers of balance between these two hemispheres are inevitably drawn to Leonardo Da Vinci because of his stature as the supreme “whole-brain” thinker.

Many have pondered: Was Da Vinci a scientist who studied art or an artist who studied science? Clearly, he was both. In his Treatise on Painting, he cautions: “Those who become enamoured of the art, without having previously applied the diligent study of the scientific part of it, may be compared to mariners who put to sea in a ship without rudder or compass and therefore cannot be certain of arriving at the wished for port.”

While championing rigorous attention to detail, logic, mathematics and practical analysis, Leonardo also urged an awakening of the power of imagination. He challenges us to stare at stones, smoke, embers, clouds, and mud (the physics and substance of our natural world) and cultivate our ability to see in these mundane forms “the likeness of divine landscapes … and an infinity of things.”

This instruction represents more than just advice to stimulate an artist’s imagination; it is a breakthrough in human thought. It paved the way for modern “brainstorming” and created the intellectual discipline of “creative thinking.”

So how can we follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps and develop arte/scienza?

Learn to create mind maps — Mind mapping is a whole-brain method for generating and organizing ideas. It deviates from the traditional outline format, which is basically left-brain, by incorporating free-flowing lines, doodles, drawings and colors — right-brain stuff. It utilizes both hemispheres of the brain for creativity and problem solving. It should be no surprise that the note-taking styles of many of history’s great brains — such as Darwin, Michelangelo, Twain and Da Vinci — featured branching, organic structures complemented by lots of sketches, creative doodles and key words.

Unfortunately, space doesn’t permit an exhaustive discussion of mind mapping, but to see them at work, go to http://www.mindmapinspiration.com.

To discover more about this tool for generating ideas and solidifying concepts, check out The Mind Map Book: Radiant Thinking by Tony and Barry Buzan.

Adapted from How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb