The Evolution of Sexual Reproduction

When faced with ideas that are new and unusual, many people react by becoming hostile or dismissive. Evolutionary philosophy has only really begun to emerge over the last few decades, and it could be a few more decades before it becomes a formalized and academically accepted philosophical discipline.

However, people usually react warmly to things they are familiar with. And they will be more likely to accept an unfamiliar thing if it is packaged with something they already like. And almost everybody likes Leonardo da Vinci. His designs and illustrations are both beautiful and inspiring, and his writings portray an intellect that was well ahead of its time.

In Leonardo's time, the late 1400s, there was no formal scientific research. Scholars instead unquestioningly accepted the observations of nature that were passed down from Aristotle and other ancient Greeks. This was because although the Church would not permit free inquiry, they were unable to suppress the writings of the ancient Greeks, and so they allowed ancient Greek science to be taught as long as it did not conflict with the teachings of the Bible.

Leonardo was an artist, not a scholar, and so his imagination was not confined by the boundaries of contemporary scholarly thinking. Fortunately for us, we are able to gain an insight into his ideas as they were preserved as entries in his notebooks. On the subject of ‘True Science’, Leonardo wrote ...

Consider how much trust society places in ancient writings about the human soul, although such a thing cannot be proven to exist, and yet consider how little we understand about the tangible things around us that are easy to observe.

Many people will probably accuse me of attempting to discredit men who are highly respected as being authorities in their field even though they have no science behind what they say. Many will refuse to acknowledge that my conclusions are instead drawn from real experience.

Only through experience can you know what is true or false, and this is why wise men take care to only make claims about things that can be observed. Nothing true can come from ignorance, and trying to uphold unproven claims only leads to despair.

I am well aware that because I did not study the ancients, some foolish men will accuse me of being uneducated. They will say that because I did not learn from their schoolbooks, I am unqualified to express an opinion. But I would reply that my conclusions are drawn from first-hand experience, unlike the scholars who only believe what they read in books written by others.

Although I cannot quote from authors in the same way they do, I shall rely on a much worthier thing, actual experience, which is the only thing that could ever have properly guided the men that they learn from.

These scholars strut around in a pompous way, without any thoughts of their own, equipped only with the thoughts of others, and they want to stop me from having my own thoughts. And if they despise me for being an inventor, then how much more should they be despised for not being inventors but followers and reciters of the works of others.

When the followers and reciters of the works of others are compared to those who are inventors and interpreters between Nature and man, it is as though they are non-existent mirror images of some original. Given that it is only by chance that we are invested with human form, I might think of them as being a herd of animals.

Those who try to censor knowledge do harm to both knowledge and love, because love is the offspring of knowledge, and the passion of love grows in proportion to the certainty of knowledge. The more we know about nature, the more we can be certain of what we know, and so the more love we can feel for nature as a whole.

Of what use are those who try to restrict what we know to only those things that are easy to comprehend, often because they themselves are not inclined to learn more about a particular subject, like the subject of the human body.

And yet they want to comprehend the mind of God, talking about it as though they had already dissected it into parts. Still they remain unaware of their own bodies, of the realities of their surroundings, and even unaware of their own stupidity.

Along with the scholars, they despise the mathematical sciences, which are the only true sources of information about those things which they claim to know so much about. Instead they talk about miracles and write about things that nobody could ever know, things that cannot be proven by any evidence in nature.

It seems to me that all studies are vain and full of errors unless they are based on experience and can be tested by experiment, in other words, they can be demonstrated to our senses. For if we are doubtful of what our senses perceive then how much more doubtful should we be of things that our senses cannot perceive, like the nature of God and the soul and other such things over which there are endless disputes and controversies.

Wherever there is no true science and no certainty of knowledge, there will be conflicting speculations and quarrels. However, whenever things are proven by scientific demonstration and known for certain, then all quarreling will cease. And if controversy should ever arise again, then our first conclusions must have been questionable.

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