Astronomy and Optics from Pliny to Descartes: Texts, Diagrams and Conceptual Studies, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Astronomy and Optics from Pliny to Descartes

Texts, Diagrams and Conceptual Studies, 1st Edition

By Bruce S. Eastwood


312 pages

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Hardback: 9780860782391
pub: 1989-03-30
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A principal concern of the author in writing these articles has been to elucidate the conceptual structures that underlie the scientific thought of the Middle Ages - the philosophical and cultural assumptions, presuppositions and motivations that determine the way concepts are formed and questions are answered. In the first group of articles Professor Eastwood focuses on astronomy in Latin Europe in the 5th-11th centuries, looking especially at the use, development and interpretation of diagrams in works on planetary motion. The following studies turn to optics and visual theory. They examine Robert Grosseteste’s views on the rainbow, refraction and empirical knowledge, and study specific instances of how medieval thinkers, both in the Latin and Islamic worlds, reinterpreted and reformulated the concepts they had inherited.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Kepler as historian of science: precursors of Copernican heliocentrism according to De revolutionibus 1,10; The chaster path of Venus (orbis Veneris castior) in the astronomy of Martianus Capella; The diagram Spera celestis in the Hortus deliciarum: a confused amalgam from the astronomies of Pliny and Martianus Capella; Notes on the planetary configuration in Aberystwyth N.L.W. MS 735C, f. 4v; Characteristics of the Plinian astronomical diagrams in a Bodleian palimpsest, MS d’Orville 95, ff. 25-38; MSS Madrid 9605, Munich 6364, and the evolution of two Plinian astronomical diagra ms in the 10th century; Robert Grosseteste’s theory of the rainbow; Grosseteste’s ’quantitative’ law of refraction; Medieval empiricism: the case of Grosseteste’s optics; Uses of geometry in medieval optics; Philosophical aspects of medieval optics: the changing status of geometricals; Metaphysical derivations of a law of refraction: Damianos and Grosseteste; Al-Farabi on extramission, intromission and the use of Platonic visual theory; The elements of vision: the micro-cosmology of Galenic visual theory according to Hunayn ibn Ishaq; Alhazen, Leonardo and late-medieval speculation on the inversion of images in the eye; Descartes on refraction: scientific versus rhetorical method; Indexes.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General