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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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The Seventeenth-Century Response

The Seventeenth-Century Response

(p.373) Chapter 9 The Seventeenth-Century Response
From Sight to Light

A. Mark Smith

University of Chicago Press

The ways in which the Keplerian turn discussed in the previous chapter manifested itself during the seventeenth century is the subject of this chapter, which examines three particular developments influenced by that turn: the deployment and improvement of telescopes and microscopes; the emergence of new, mechanistic theories of light and color; and the resulting efforts to explain sensation, perception, and cognition on the basis of these new theories. One clear outcome of these efforts was a complete repudiation of the medieval “pictures-in-the-mind” approach to visual cognition, with its emphasis on animating spirits and intentional species, in favor of a more materialist approach based on physical impulses and reactions that correlate with such “pictures” without bearing any resemblance to them.

Keywords:   corpuscularism, chromatic aberration, experimentum crucis, hyperboloidal lenses, least time principle, mechanism, mind-body dualism, pineal gland, longitudinal wave theory, speed of light

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