Dissertation Title:

Complexity Theory and Creativity: Seeing Through to the Mythic Leonardo da Vinci


John (Fujio) Mandeville

Date, Time & Place:

October 24, 2022 at 1:00 pm


According to scholars of Leonardo da Vinci, he is becoming two dichotomous images: a scholarly one and a public one, and they are becoming alarmingly divergent. This dissertation addresses this matter by using a transdisciplinary framework developed to deepen the understanding of this fifteen-century Italian Renaissance giant. This framework includes historiography but also goes beyond it. The additional methodologies employed are depth psychology, complexity theory and thinking, methods for cognitively understanding Leonardo’s thinking as a polymath and his usage of analogies, and mythological studies.

The results of this study show that Leonardo was more than just a historical figure and, no matter how desirable it may be by some, not a mystic. He was a painter and a student of nature who desired to know all he could to become whole and individuated. The results also underline the need for a comprehensive approach to understanding someone as complex as this titan was. It demonstrates that Leonardo was the son and lover of the Great Goddess Mother and that he was a unifier of nature through his love of the Mother, his daimon whose underlying psychological force was the motivator for his need to know all that there was to know about nature and understand it as a unified complex field. It also explicates his mythical thinking and how he is a mythical figure.

The description of Leonardo in this dissertation is one possible portrayal; this is one approach to using a transdisciplinary framework with methodologies that intersect and inform each other, just as Leonardo did with his studies and use of analogies. However, much more is left to study that is out of scope for this dissertation. This study makes several suggestions for further exploration.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, E, 2017
  • Chair: Dr. Dennis Slattery
  • Reader: Dr. Mary Wood
  • External Reader: Dr. Roger Barnes
  • Keywords: Leonardo, Depth Psychology, Great Mother Goddess, Myth, Polymath, Analogy, Complexity, Historiography, Transdisciplinary