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The Library of Leonardo da Vinci as an Economy of Knowledge: Cosmology, Practice, and Theory

Subproject by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Renn

The library of Leonardo da Vinci, which contained books and writings on, for example, astronomy, the theory of the sphere, geography, mathematics and natural philosophy, theory of art, and anatomy, gave momentum to the knowledge dynamics characteristic of the Renaissance.

The encounter between broad fields of knowledge and highly specialized knowledge in Leonardo's library created a network of knowledge in which personal relationships with other scholars also played an important role. Based on Leonardo's library, the subproject investigates cosmological and terrestrial knowledge movements in relation to various textual, practical, and material frameworks. The collection of writings shows that Leonardo understood cosmology as an important dimension of knowledge that was reciprocally related to other areas of knowledge about nature. The development of cosmology – a recognized Renaissance science – shows how more and more areas of human knowledge and human activity became the object of explorative knowledge production, and how their codification in changed systems of representation brought about new forms of implementation in practical action.