Molyneux’s vision

Nicholas J. Wade (Lead / Corresponding author)

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This chapter concerns the contents of Dioptrica Nova and then only the material on aspects of visual perception like the limits of visual resolution, corrections for optical aberrations, upright vision with inverted retinal images, and the moon illusion. It also concerns the responses of philosophers and physicians to Molyneux’s question. William Molyneux (Figure 9.1) was born in Dublin on 17 April, 1656, and died there in 1698. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin and graduated in 1674. He then spent three years in London studying law, but his principal interests were in optics and astronomy. He was able to pursue these subsequently upon receiving an inheritance from his father. His Dioptrica Nova. A Treatise of Dioptricks in two Parts published in 1692, six years before his death, covered a broad range of phenomena - from optical definitions to double vision. Molyneux is best known for the question he posed to John Locke.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMolyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy
EditorsGabriele Ferretti, Brian Glenney
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429020377
ISBN (Print)9780367030926, 9780429671944
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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