5 Leonardo da Vinci Quotes

December 9, 2018
What stands out the most in these Leonardo da Vinci quotes is his faith in human willpower. In his day, many people thought that the world existed and moved because of supernatural powers. Leonardo, however, celebrated the power of human beings.

These Leonardo da Vinci quotes only show us a small part of who this great man was. Today, we consider him one of the greatest geniuses of all time. He was overwhelmingly intelligent and he used his intellect in almost every field of human knowledge. Few famous people have been so versatile.

Da Vinci was an inventor, a researcher, and an unswerving humanist. His curiosity was limitless. He also had an unbreakable spirit. His desire for knowledge was greater than his desire for a comfortable life and he refused to stop his quest for knowledge.

Leonardo da Vinci’s quotes reveal a thinker who reflected on the meaning of life, values, and the world. He was dynamic, fickle, daring, and had a great sense of humor. These are some of his most well-known quotes.

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

-Leonardo da Vinci-

1. There are three classes of people

“There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.”

-Leonardo da Vinci-

This is one of those da Vinci quotes that poses a question to humanity. Obviously, in this case, he’s referring to “seeing” not as a physical act, but as a metaphor for understanding reality. Da Vinci refers to the idea of being aware of what’s around you and what’s in the world.

Those who “see” are those who are able to visualize reality in the broad sense. Those who only see what they’re shown are conditioned to seeing through others. Lastly, those who do not see simple refuse to understand what the world is telling them.

A woman holding the moon with a blindfold on.

2. Smile and laugh

“If possible, you should try to make even the dead laugh.” [translation]

Leonardo da Vinci was an incorrigible jokester. He loved making others laugh and also loved laughing at others’ expense. In fact, there is a hypothesis that the famous Shroud of Turin is nothing more than a joke that da Vinci is still playing on humankind.

Whatever the case may be, this is one da Vinci quote that expresses his playful spirit. With it, he defends laughter as an ingredient and a consequence of a good life. To laugh you need to be smart, open-minded, and simple. Da Vinci himself had all of these traits. 

A Leonardi da Vinci drawing.

3. Theory and practice

“Those who fall in love with practice without science are like a sailor who enters a ship without a helm or a compass, and who never can be certain whither he is going.”

There is no better authority on this subject than da Vinci. In fact, his passion for knowledge came from his awareness of his ignorance. That made it possible for him to extract information.

At the same time, da Vinci was a great inventor. That means he had to apply his knowledge to come up with concrete solutions. That’s why he understood the dynamic and intimate relationship between theory and practice and between principals and their application more than anyone else.

4. A da Vinci quote on pleasure

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”

This is one of da Vinci’s most beautiful quotes. It’s also perhaps the quote that best reflects his scientific spirit and his passion for discovery and creativity. He must have spent long hours trying to find answers to his questions. That’s why he was intimately acquainted with the pleasure of understanding. 

When we understand something, we feel deeply satisfied. This gives us a sense of freedom and levity. Understanding means resolving the uncertainty that ignorance creates. It also gives us greater control and rids us of the burden of not knowing. It is, in fact, a noble pleasure. Understanding increases the happiness of those who experience it.

5. Being a spectator or a participant

“It has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

A person on a lake with the moon in his hand.

Here da Vinci tells us that being passive makes it very difficult to fulfill your desires. Being a spectator can be useful at certain times in your life, but if you stay there your drive and motivation may dissipate.

It’s interesting that da Vinci talks about being able to make things happen. In this quote, he highlights the idea that your will can make things happen. Humans can change reality through their actions. This is also the principle of autonomy and freedom.

There are so many da Vinci quotes that show us just how insightful he was. Although we remember him primarily as a painter and inventor, much of his legacy and his greatness stem from the life philosophy that he adopted and promoted. 

Gelb, M. J. (1999). Inteligencia genial: 7 principios claves para desarrollar la inteligencia, inspirados en la vida y obra de Leonardo da Vinci. Editorial Norma.