An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision

An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision

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Excerpt: ... and setting the manner wherein we perceive magnitudes in a due light, I shall proceed to make some observations concerning matters relating thereto, whereof the want of reflexion, and duly separating between tangible and visible ideas, is apt to create in us mistaken and confused notions. And FIRST, I shall observe that the MINIMUM VISIBILE is exactly equal in all beings whatsoever that are endowed with the visive faculty. No exquisite formation of the eye, no peculiar sharpness of sight, can make it less in one creature than in another; for it not being distinguishable into parts, nor in any wise a consisting of them, it must necessarily be the same to all. For suppose it otherwise, and that the MINIMUM VISIBILE of a mite, for instance, be less than the MINIMUM VISIBILE of a man: the latter therefore may by detraction of some part be made equal to the former: it doth therefore consist of parts, which is inconsistent with the notion of a MINIMUM VISIBILE or point. 81. It will perhaps be objected that the MINIMUM VISIBILE of a man doth really and in itself contain parts whereby it surpasses that of a mite, though they are not perceivable by the man. To which I answer, the MINIMUM VISIBILE having (in like manner as all other the proper and immediate objects of sight) been shown not to have any existence without the mind of him who sees it, it follows there cannot be any pan of it that is not actually perceived, and therefore visible. Now for any object to contain distinct visible parts, and at the same time to be a MINIMUM VISIBILE, is a manifest contradiction. 82. Of these visible points we see at all times an equal number. It is every whit as great when our view is contracted and bounded by near objects as when it is extended to larger and remoter. For it being impossible that one MINIMUM VISIBILE should obscure or keep out of sight mote than one other, it is a plain consequence that when my view is on all sides bounded by the walls of my study...
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