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Early Modern Medical Thinking on Vision and the Camera Obscura. V.F. Plempius’ Ophthalmographia

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Chapter Summary

The 'modus visionis' was one of the most fascinating and fashionable topics in early modern thought. Modern philosophers, mathematicians, artist s, magicians and astronomers took a particular interest in vision and discussed it extensively. Medical doctors too, debated how vision occurred, trying to find a way out of the impasse created by the contradictions between Aristotle and Galen. The chapter argues that by introducing the camera obscura as an explanatory model for the functioning of the eye, V.F. Plempius's aim was to resolve an ongoing debate. He borrowed the innovations and experiments of other fields of knowledge, but looked at them as a medical doctor: by analysing the relevance of the camera for medical thinking he was able to give such innovations a new meaning. Author shows literally constructing -Plempius's ideas on the physiology of sight, as published in his Ophthalmographia.

Keywords:Aristotle; camera obscura; Galen; medical; Ophthalmographia; physiology; sight; V.F. Plempius; vision



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