Catalogue Number: 2013
Dioptrica Nova, A treatise of dioptricks in two parts
Sub-Category: Hewett collection
Author: MOLYNEUX William
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: 2012
Edition: Facsimile of the 2nd Edition 1709
Time Period: 18th C and earlier
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: UK
Publisher/Manufacturer: Ecco Print Editions
Description Of Item: This is a facsimile of the second edition of William Molyneux's book on optics published in 1709. The first ediiton was published in 1690. Illustrated paperback covers, 301 pages and errata leaf and advertising leaf. Several black and white diagrams.
Historical Significance: William Molyneux FRS (1656 -1698) was an Irish natural philosopher and writer on politics. This is his best known scientific work published first in 1690. The first part of the book examines the geometrical optics of lenses, the eye, telescopes, and microscopes. The second part consists of commentaries on various topics, including spectacles, telescopes, and physiological diplopia. It is a very early theortical discourse on optics including material on the optics of the eye and spectacles (Part 2 Chap II p 207) and lens grinding (Part 2 Chap IV p 214) . It predates Newton's Optiks (1704) and Smith's System of Optics (1738) although not Barrow's Lectures on Optics (1669). He also raised the issue of prior experience in visual perception in what is known as Molyneux's problem. Molyneux's problem is a thought experiment in philosophy concerning immediate recovery from blindness. It is notably referenced in John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The problem can be stated in brief, "if a man born blind can feel the differences between shapes such as spheres and cubes, could he similarly distinguish those objects by sight if given the ability to see? For more information from the perspective of optometry see Goss DA. William Molyneux and the optometry content of his 1692 book Dioptrica Nova. Hindsight. 2008 Apr;39(2):67-71 and Hofstetter HWOptometry of Daza de Valdes (1591-ca. 1636) Am J Optom Physiol Opt. 1988 May; 65(5):354-7.
How Acquired: Purchased by Kett Museum
Date Acquired: March 2012
Condition: Very good except slight warping
Location: Nathan Library. Hewett collection