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From Sight to Light – The Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics - Chicago Scholarship Online
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From Sight to Light: The Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics

A. Mark Smith


Until quite recently, the history of optics has been treated as the history of light-theory. As it developed from antiquity, however, the science of optics was aimed primarily at explaining not light and its physical manifestations, but sight in all its aspects from physical and physiological causes to perceptual and cognitive effects. And so it remained until the seventeenth century, when the analytic focus of optics shifted rather suddenly, and definitively, from sight to light. This shift marks the turn from ancient toward modern optics alluded to in the title of this book. Why this particu ... More

Keywords: corpuscularism, epistemology, geometrical optics, Keplerian turn, perspectivist tradition, physical optics, retinal imaging, visual paradigm, mechanical philosophy, mind-body dualism

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780226174761
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226174938.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

A. Mark Smith, author
Professor of History, University of Missouri-Columbia