Galileo's Visions: Piercing the spheres of the heavens by eye and mind

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en Limba Engleză Carte Hardback – 05 Dec 2013
Galileo is known as a pioneer of science - especially of mechanics and astronomy, but far less attention has been paid to his work on the senses, and on vision in particular. In this book, two experts on the history of science look at the novel ways in which Galileo looked at the heavens through his telescope, and, in the process, emphasised the importance of contrast phenomena and visual resolution within astronomical observations. He also described the senses and their perception in terms that found an echo in doctrines advanced by nineteenth century sensory physiologists.

In a fascinating and accessible style, Marco Piccolino and Nick Wade analyse the scientific and philosophical work of Galileo Galilei from the particular viewpoint of his approach to the senses (and especially vision) as a means of acquiring trustworthy knowledge about the constitution of the world. For Galileo the senses were potentially ambiguous, hence reliable information capable of penetrating the complexity of reality could only be obtained by interpreting the sensory data critically. The philosophical background of Galileo's attitude to the senses was his awareness that nature had not developed a specific language aimed at communicating with senses generally and human senses in particular. The culture of his age was based mainly on mechanistic approaches to the world. In this context, Galileo's analysis of the senses corresponded closely to a fundamental tenet of modern sensory physiology and psychophysics - the absence in the world of specific sensory signals like sounds, colours, tastes, and odours.

Fully illustrated throughout, this book is an important contribution to psychology and the vision sciences, but more broadly to our knowledge of a pioneering figure in the history of science

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ISBN-13: 9780199554355
ISBN-10: 0199554358
Pagini: 336
Dimensiuni: 181 x 253 x 25 mm
Greutate: 0.83 kg
Editura: Oxford University Press
Colecția OUP Oxford
Locul publicării: Oxford, United Kingdom


In this book one discovers the very remarkable work of Galileo who succeeded in placing an understanding of visual function within a modern perspective. His discoveries revised the physiological and psychological outlook of his time. In this regard, it suffices to consider the perception of the moon. Before Galileo this celestial body was seen as a flat disc, illuminated by the sun alone and embedded in the vault of the heavens. After his discoveries the moon becamea mountainous sphere revolving around the earth and also illuminated by it This masterly work should be bedtime reading for every humanist worthy of this name.

Notă biografică

Marco Piccolino has taught of General Physiology and Science History at the University of Ferrara, Italy, and he is now member of the Center of Neuroscience of the same University. He is a neurophysiologist who has carried out important research in the physiology of the retina by publishing his results on the main international journals (Nature, Science, PNAS). He has written several books on the history of electrophysiology and sensory physiology, which arereference books in the field (particularly Rane, torpedini e scintille with Marco Bresadola, which will soon be published in an English edition by Oxford University Press; and (with Stanley Finger) The shocking history of electric fishes: from ancient epochs to the birth of modern neurophysiology, publishedin 2011 by Oxford University Press).Nicholas Wade obtained his B.Sc. (1965) from Edinburgh University and his Ph.D. (1968) from Monash University, Australia. Following a postdoctoral fellowship (1969-1970) at the Max-Planck-Institute for Behavioural Physiology, Germany, he took a post at Dundee, where he has remained. His research is concerned with binocular vision, the history of vision research, and the interplay between visual science and visual art. He has published books in these areas, including: The Art and Science ofVisual Illusions (1982), Brewster and Wheatstone on Vision (1983), Visual Allusions: Pictures of Perception (1990), A Natural History of Vision (1998), Perception and Illusion. Historical Perspectives (2005), The Moving Tablet of the Eye: The Origins of Modern Eye Movement Research (2005) and Circles:Science, Sense and Symbol (2007). He is also an exhibiting artist and combines his interest in the history of science and art by producing 'perceptual portraits' of figures in his field.