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Observing By HandSketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century$
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Omar W. Nasim

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226084374

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226084404.001.0001

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Conception Andperception

Conception Andperception

E. P. Mason and Sir John F. W. Herschel

(p.123) 3 Conception Andperception
Observing By Hand

Omar W. Nasim

University of Chicago Press

With a detailed study of the procedures of the young American astronomer, E. P. Mason (in part 1) and the celebrated English scientist, Sir John F. W. Herschel (in part 2), chapter 3 is focused on the relationship between conception and perception, particularly in the context of bringing to bear the numerical into the production of the pictorial representations of the nebulae. In the work of both Mason and Herschel, conceptions are used to prepare sheets of paper in order to receive and fix visual inscriptions. For both, these preparations derive from cartographical practices, but it is only in the work of Herschel that the motives and the structure of the observational records spring from an empiricist notion of the “constructive activity” of the mind (a philosophical notion formulated in contrast to William Whewell’s and Sir W. R. Hamilton’s apriorism).

Keywords:   William Whewell, Sir W. R. Hamilton, James Douglas of Cavers, Triangulation, Philosophy of Mind, Communication, History of Philosophy, Geodesy and Land-Surveying, Structure and Relations, Isomap and Contour

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