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The understanding of perception is central to our knowledge of the mind. Yet paradoxically, this understanding was born of centuries of fascination with errors of human perception. Perception and Illusion: Historical Perspectives elegantly retraces this scientific journey, not only in terms of its trials and errors but in its complex relationships with painting and medicine, philosophy and physics.
In this accessible volume, Nicholas Wade surveys over two millennia of scientific inquiry and research, describing the evolution of theories of light, sight, and illusion from early naturalistic observation to our sophisticated present-day experiments. Optics, physiology, and ophthalmology are seen emerging from beneath the burden of tradition and dogma. So, too, do doctors and thinkers studying the senses become practitioners devoted to specialized domains.
• The Greek foundations of perception: Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy • Art and perception before and after the Renaissance: color mixing and linear perspective • The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: ocular anatomy meets optical science; the separation of sight from light • Perception and behavior: illusions and the roots of psychology in the nineteenth century; the fragmentation of the senses; harnessing space and time • Perceptual innovations in the twentieth century: from infant vision through visual physiology to virtual reality.
Perception and Illusion: Historical Perspectives is illuminating reading for students of the history of psychology, optics, and medicine, and provides insights into the history and progress of science. In addition to charting these visual milestones, Wade reminds the reader in an articulate manner of perceptual controversies—including some of the most basic ones—that have yet to be resolved.
Chapter 1 Recording observations
The practice of perception
Greek science and perception
The ideal and the observable
The five senses
The introduction of observation
The introduction of optics
The introduction of experiment
Summary Chapter 2 Nature of perceptual error
Comparisons of percepts
Comparisons with physics
Comparisons with physiology
Distal and proximal comparisons
Summary Chapter 3 Nature of veridicality
Nature of light
Early modern optics
Nature of sight
Summary Chapter 4 Perception in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
Impact of optics
Eye as an optical instrument
Impact of anatomy
Impact of physiology