Alhacen's Theory of Visual Perception (First Three Books of by Alhazen, A. Mark Smith

By Alhazen, A. Mark Smith

Someday among 1028 and 1038, Ibn al-Haytham accomplished his enormous optical synthesis, Kitab al-Manazir ("Book of Optics"). through no later than 1200, and maybe a bit of previous, this treatise seemed in Latin lower than the name De aspectibus. In that shape it was once attributed to a undeniable "Alhacen." those modifications in identify and authorial designation are indicative of the profound variations among the 2 types, Arabic and Latin, of the treatise. in lots of methods, in truth, they are often seemed now not easily as various types of an identical paintings, yet as diversified works of their personal correct. consequently, the Arab writer, Ibn al-Haytham, and his Latin incarnation, Alhacen, characterize detailed, occasionally even conflicting, interpretive voices. And an analogous holds for his or her respective texts. To complicate concerns, "Alhacen" doesn't symbolize a unmarried interpretive voice. there have been a minimum of translators at paintings at the Latin textual content, one among them adhering faithfully to the Arabic unique, the opposite content material with distilling, even paraphrasing, the Arabic unique. as a result, the Latin textual content provides no longer one, yet at the very least faces to the reader. This two-volume serious variation represents fourteen years of labor on Dr. Smith's half. offered the 2001 J. F. Lewis Award.

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Additional info for Alhacen's Theory of Visual Perception (First Three Books of Alhacen's De Aspectibus), Volume One - Introduction and Latin Text (Transactions of the American Philosophical Society)

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The threefold division into opticsproper,catoptrics,and dioptrics-bespeaks this concern. At bottom, of course, Ptolemy's analysis is based upon the visual cone, but Ptolemy (and Alhacen afterhim) conceives of the constituent visual rays as virtual, ratherthan real,entities. Using projectilemotion as an analogue, Ptolemy transformsthe ray into a virtual trajectory,the activity of the flux along it being thus reduced to kinetic and dynamic terms. The intensity of that radiation,as well as its resulting effect,will thereforevary accordingto the force of its projectionand impingement along the ray.

Unlike Ptolemy's visual flux, however, Galen's pneumatic flux does not then radiate through the air to surrounding objects. Rather, it transforms the air itself into a percipient extension of the optic complex extending from the brain, through the optic nerves, to the front of the ocular globe. What results is a cone of visibility with its vertex at the eye and its base ever-expanding over distance. Strictly speaking, then, Galen's theory is not extramissionistcertainly not in the same sense as the Euclidean-Ptolemaic visual-ray theory-because, according to Galen's physical account, what passes from eye to object is a pneumatic effect, not a material efflux.

156 Eachpoint on the surfaceof a luminous objectis to be thought of as an independent source of radiation,propagating its form everywhere transparencypermits. 157All luminous surfaces can be resolved into a mosaic of independent point-sources sending their forms outward in all possible directions. It is crucialto realize,however, that the radiallines along which light is assumed to propagateare virtual rather than real. In actuality,light emanates from spots, not actual points, on the luminous surface,and the ensuing sphereof propagationis perfectly continuous.

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