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jerryking : florence   3

Da Vinci code: what the tech age can learn from Leonardo
April 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Ian Goldin.

While Leonardo is recognised principally for his artistic genius, barely a dozen paintings can be unequivocally attributed to him. In life, he defined himself not as an artist but as an engineer and architect......History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes. The Renaissance catapulted Italy from the Medieval age to become the most advanced place on Earth. Then, as now, change brought immense riches to some and growing anxiety and disillusionment to others. We too live in an age of accelerating change, one that has provoked its own fierce backlash. What lessons can we draw from Leonardo and his time to ensure that we not only benefit from a new flourishing, but that progress will be sustained? When we think of the Renaissance, we think of Florence. Leonardo arrived in the city in the mid 1460s, and as a teenager was apprenticed to the painter Verrocchio. The city was already an incubator for ideas. At the centre of the European wool trade, by the late 14th century Florence had become the home of wealthy merchants including the Medicis, who were bankers to the Papal Court. The city’s rapid advances were associated with the information and ideas revolution that defines the Renaissance. Johann Gutenberg had used moveable type to publish his Bible in the early 1450s, and between the time of Leonardo’s birth in 1452 and his 20th birthday, some 15m books were printed, more than all the European scribes had produced over the previous 1,500 years.

..as Leonardo knew, and the Silicon Valley techno-evangelists too often neglect, information revolutions don’t only allow good ideas to flourish. They also provide a platform for dangerous ideas. The Zuckerberg information revolution can pose a similar threat to that of Gutenberg.

In the battle of ideas, populists are able to mobilise the disaffected more effectively than cerebral scientists, decently disciplined innovators and the moderate and often silent majority. For progress to prevail, evidence-based, innovative and reasoned thinking must triumph.
.....Genius thrived in the Renaissance because of the supportive ecosystem that aided the creation and dissemination of knowledge — which then was crushed by the fearful inquisitions. Today, tolerance and evidence-based argument are again under threat.
accelerated_lifecycles  architecture  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  capitalization  cross-disciplinary  cross-pollination  curiosity  dangerous_ideas  digital_economy  diversity  engineering  evidence_based  Florence  genius  globalization  human_potential  ideas  immigrants  Italy  industry_expertise  Johan_Gutenberg  lessons_learned  Leonardo_da_Vinci  Medicis  medieval  physical_place  polymaths  observations  Renaissance  Renaissance_Man  Silicon_Valley  silo_mentality  tolerance  unevenly_distributed  visionaries 
april 2019 by jerryking
If Machiavelli were prime minister
Mark Kingwell

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Oct. 15 2013

Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, that classic manual of harsh political wisdom. The Florentine intellectual’s defence of deceit, cruelty and fear in the pursuit of political power, his merciless advice to potential rulers about hiring mercenaries and dispensing favours, have made “Machiavellian” a handy shorthand for realpolitik.

The students love what everyone loves about Machiavelli’s story: the early ambition and connections to crazy Florentine politics, the tangles with the mad monk Savonarola and the suave Medicis, his eventual torture and exile. The famous letter in which Machiavelli describes donning his robes of court before entering his study (“Fitted out appropriately, I step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where I am unashamed to converse with them”) offers an unforgettable image of a political thinker whose fame and influence have far outstripped that of the men who defeated him....Not only does Machiavelli vividly describe the contingencies of politics, using the figure of Fortuna and her fickle wheel. Many politicos and pundits like to cite the idea, as if losing an election were equivalent to being slain on the battlefield, burned at the stake or punished with the shoulder-tearing torture known as the strappado, all proximate realities in Machiavelli’s time. In addition, and despite all his apparent cynicism, Machiavelli has a clear idea about why political power is worth seeking in the first place.

The answer, he says, is glory – but not the merely personal kind. The successful prince is not some incumbency-shadowing hack, hanging on to this privileges and influence as a matter of entitlement or arrogance. Nor is he willing to use any means at all to gain victory: “By such methods one may win dominion but not glory,” Machiavelli notes. The great leader is a servant of history, using the sharp-edged tools of the political trade to carve out a legacy – in this case, a glorious Florence, whose culture, art, architecture and lasting presence will inspire generations to come. Glory is a gift, and it alone justifies and motivates the true prince....A prime minister who blandly abuses position – the muzzling of MPs, the casual prorogues of our only house of representation – is, if nothing else, nicely calibrated to widespread citizen indifference and a culture of trivial distractions....Machiavelli knew better; he was, finally, a humanist. And if he could still believe in the idea of glory after torture and disgrace – no soft return to Bay Street or Harvard for him – then surely the rest of us can exercise our citizenly spirit a bit more. Can we not demand a more glorious Canada, and leaders who will work to realize it? Bonus: We could even keep the words to O Canada – except it’s all of us, not God, who should do the heavy lifting.
Stephen_Harper  Niccolò_Machiavelli  leaders  legacies  shorthand  political_power  politicians  glory  Florence  mercilessness 
october 2013 by jerryking

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