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From Sight to LightThe Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics$
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A. Mark Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226174761

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226174938.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 03 August 2021



(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
From Sight to Light

A. Mark Smith

University of Chicago Press

After setting out the basic historiographical context for the study that follows, this chapter provides a brief account of the book’s overall thesis, which emphasizes the sharp contrast between pre-Keplerian and post-Keplerian optics. That contrast, it is argued, lies in a fundamental difference in analytic focus. Pre-Keplerian optics was driven by the need to explain precisely how vision can yield a faithful mental picture of objective reality. Its ulterior focus was therefore on cognition-theory rather than light-theory. In post-Keplerian optics, on the other hand, the analytic focus was reversed, its primary aim now being to explain the physics of light rather than the epistemology of sight. The chapter ends with a fairly brief account of the sources and methods upon which the study unfolding in the succeeding eight chapters is based.

Keywords:   epistemology, Islamic sciences, Keplerian turn, liberal arts, physical optics, practical optics, retinal image, ray-geometry, universities, visual paradigm

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