By Alhazen, A. Mark Smith
Someday among 1028 and 1038, Ibn al-Haytham accomplished his huge optical synthesis, Kitab al-Manazir ("Book of Optics"). through no later than 1200, and maybe a bit prior, this treatise seemed in Latin less than the identify De aspectibus. In that shape it used to be attributed to a definite "Alhacen." those ameliorations in name and authorial designation are indicative of the profound changes among the 2 types, Arabic and Latin, of the treatise. in lots of methods, in truth, they are often appeared now not easily as assorted types of an identical paintings, yet as various works of their personal correct. for that reason, the Arab writer, Ibn al-Haytham, and his Latin incarnation, Alhacen, signify detailed, occasionally even conflicting, interpretive voices. And an identical holds for his or her respective texts. To complicate issues, "Alhacen" doesn't signify a unmarried interpretive voice. there have been at the least translators at paintings at the Latin textual content, one in all them adhering faithfully to the Arabic unique, the opposite content material with distilling, even paraphrasing, the Arabic unique. hence, the Latin textual content provides now not one, yet at the least faces to the reader. This two-volume serious version represents fourteen years of labor on Dr. Smith's half. provided the 2001 J. F. Lewis Award.
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Extra 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)
Two other preconditions must be met. " Furthermore, Ptolemy continues, visible objectsmust... be compactin substancein orderto impede the visual flux, so that its power may enter into them rather than pass throughwithout incident effect. , opacity-render objects sensible to the visual flux. But luminosity and compactness are not themselves actually visible; they simply form the grounds of visibility. Strictly speaking, the only thing that is visible for Ptolemy is color. 85 To put it in Aristotelian terms, color, for Ptolemy, is the proper object of sight, the sole property of things that can be apprehended by the visual flux.
It is presumablyfor this reason that Ptolemy (like Ibn al-Haytham)ignores such tangential topics as the rainbow and burning mirrorsthat have little or nothing to do with vision. The depth of Ptolemy's concern with sight is reflectedin the depth of his concernwith visual illusions. , 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.
Thereis remarkablylittle in it that is cautious tionally overtly hypothetical or deductive and much that is overtly empirical and inductive. Furthermore,Alhacen is extraordinarilysystematicand precise, almost mathematicallyso, in developing that accountelementby-element in a logical order that is as inexorableas it is clear. Leaving virtually nothing to chance, he guides the readeralong by the shortest of leashes, not only forcinghim to follow the beaten path within straitened bounds, but also pointing out the exemplary landmarks-in the way of illustrativeexamples,many of themexperimentally-based-along the way.