• Corpus ID: 33055467

What is the history of medieval optics really about?

  title={What is the history of medieval optics really about?},
  author={A. Mark Smith},
  journal={Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society},
  volume={148 2},
  • A. M. Smith
  • Published 1 June 2004
  • Physics
  • Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
SINCE ITS PUBLICATION IN 1975, David Lindberg's Theories of Vision from Al-Kindi to Kepler2 has become the canonical source for our understanding of medieval optics and its place in the development of modern optics. Lindberg's ulterior purpose in writing this book was to show that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Johan Kepler's account of sight, which is based on the casting of point-by-point images through the lens at the front of the eye onto the retina at the back, represented a continuation… 

Figures from this paper

Advances in optics in the medieval Islamic world
This paper reviews the state of knowledge in the field of optics, mainly in catoptrics and dioptrics, before the birth of modern science and the well-documented contributions of men such as Kepler
Ibn al-Haytham, the Arab who brought Greek optics into focus for Latin Europe
In atiquity there was no differentiation between the eye, light and vision. Optics was the study of vision. Debate continued for nineteenhundred years, from Plato to Kepler, as to whether vision
Baroque Optics and the Disappearance of the Observer: From Kepler’s Optics to Descartes’ Doubt
Seventeenth-century optics naturalizes the eye while estranging the mind from objects. A mere screen, on which rests a blurry array of light stains, the eye no longer furnishes the observer with
From Emblems to Diagrams: Kepler's New Pictorial Language of Scientific Representation
Examining Kepler's pictorial language against the backdrop of alchemical emblems that flourished in and around the court of Rudolf II in Prague highlights the cultural context in which Kepler's optics was immersed, and the way in which he attempted to demarcate his new science from other modes of the investigation of nature.
Magnification: how to turn a spyglass into an astronomical telescope
According to the received view, the first spyglass was assembled without any theory of how the instrument magnifies. Galileo, who was the first to use the device as a scientific instrument, improved
Why All This Jelly? Jacopo Zabarella and Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente on the Usefulness of the Vitreous Humor
At the end of the sixteenth century new anatomical knowledge led both empirically minded philosophers and philosophically minded anatomists to rethink theories of light, color, and vision in subtle
The First of All Natural Sciences: Roger Bacon on Perspectiva and Human Knowledge
This article is devoted to Roger Bacon’s understanding of perspectiva as “the first of all natural sciences.” After considering a few alternative medieval definitions and classifications of this
Medieval Arab Contributions to Optics
The year 2015 was the United Nations’ International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. The year long activities created a forum for scientists and engineers and all others inspired by light,
New Forms of Natural Philosophy and Mixed Mathematics
Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries natural philosophy underwent great changes. Formal and final causes were replaced by efficient causes and the world became a huge machine. Greek
Passionate Encounters: Emotion in Early English Biblical Drama
This thesis seeks to investigate the ways in which late medieval English drama produces and theorises emotions, in order to engage with the complex nexus of ideas about the links between sensation,


The Mechanistic Hypothesis and the Scientific Study of Vision : Some Optical Ideas as a Background to the Invention of the Microscope
  • Historical Aspects of Microscopy
  • 1964