© 2003

Destined for Distinguished Oblivion

The Scientific Vision of William Charles Wells (1757–1817)


Part of the History and Philosophy of Psychology book series (HPPS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Nicholas J. Wade
    Pages 1-31
  3. Nicholas J. Wade
    Pages 33-69
  4. Nicholas J. Wade
    Pages 71-117
  5. Nicholas J. Wade
    Pages 119-149
  6. Nicholas J. Wade
    Pages 151-180
  7. Nicholas J. Wade
    Pages 181-205
  8. Nicholas J. Wade
    Pages 207-246
  9. Nicholas J. Wade
    Pages 247-269
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 271-310

About this book


My fIrst encounter with the name of William Charles Wells, over twenty years ago, was an oblique reference to his Essay upon single vision that Wheatstone (1838) made in a classical article on binocular vision. The reference was enigmatic because it stated that few had paid attention to Wells' theory of visual direction, while doing little to infonn the reader of its novelty. I was fortunate in having the excellent facility of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department of the Library at the University of St. Andrews near at hand, so that I could cousult a copy of Wells' monograph. However, I was not aware of the full import of its contents until Hiroshi Ono visited Dundee from York University, Ontario, in 1980. Hiroshi had previously fonnalised the principles of binocular visual direction that Hering (1879) had proposed. He returned one day from St. Andrews, having read Wells' Essay upon single vision, amazed to have found that Wells had perfonned similar experiments and reached similar conclusions to Hering. Hiroshi Ono has done much to bring Wells' work on binocular single vision to the notice of visual scientists, although its reception has not been without opposition. As I read more of Wells' work on vision I became aware of its breadth as well as its depth. In addition to his essay on binocular single vision, he wrote about and conducted experiments on accommodation, visual acuity, visual persistence, and vertigo.


Charles Darwin experimental psychology perception psychology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of DundeeDundeeScotland

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Destined for Distinguished Oblivion
  • Book Subtitle The Scientific Vision of William Charles Wells (1757–1817)
  • Authors Nicholas J. Wade
  • Series Title History and Philosophy of Psychology
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York 2003
  • Publisher Name Springer, Boston, MA
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-0-306-47385-2
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-4613-4968-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-4615-0213-5
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XI, 310
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Psychology, general
    Health Psychology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors


"Wade's extensive knowledge [...] allows him to do a skillful job relating Well's contributions to earlier and later developments[...] The volume will interest serious scholars of visual perception and those interested in the history of this science[...] Highly recommended."
(Choice, 41:4 (December 2003)