© 2016

Studies on Binocular Vision

Optics, Vision and Perspective from the Thirteenth to the Seventeenth Centuries


Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 47)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Dominique Raynaud
    Pages 1-12
  3. Errors

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
    2. Dominique Raynaud
      Pages 37-52
  4. Theory

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 69-69
    2. Dominique Raynaud
      Pages 71-93
    3. Dominique Raynaud
      Pages 95-114
    4. Dominique Raynaud
      Pages 115-129
  5. Sifting the Hypotheses

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 131-131
    2. Dominique Raynaud
      Pages 133-159
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 215-297

About this book


This book clarifies the interrelationship between optics, vision and perspective before the Classical Age, examining binocularity in particular. The author shows how binocular vision was one of the key juncture points between the three concepts and readers will see how important it is to understand the approach that scholars once took. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the concept of Perspectiva – the Latin word for optics – encompassed many areas of enquiry that had been viewed since antiquity as interconnected, but which afterwards were separated: optics was incorporated into the field of physics (i.e., physical and geometrical optics), vision came to be regarded as the sum of various psycho-physiological mechanisms involved in the way the eye operates (i.e., physiological optics and psychology of vision) and the word ‘perspective’ was reserved for the mathematical representation of the external world (i.e., linear perspective).

The author shows how this division, which emerged as a result of the spread of the sciences in classical Europe, turns out to be an anachronism if we confront certain facts from the immediately preceding periods. It is essential to take into account the way medieval scholars posed the problem – which included all facets of the Latin word perspectiva – when exploring the events of this period. This book will appeal to a broad readership, from philosophers and historians of science, to those working in geometry, optics, ophthalmology and architecture.


Binocular Vision Vision Optics Geometry Linear Perspective

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.PPLUniversité Grenoble AlpesGrenoble Cedex 9France

About the authors

Dominique Raynaud is a science historian at the Université of Grenoble Alpes, France. He has published various articles and books in the field, among them are Optics and the Rise of Perspective. A Study in Network Knowledge Diffusion (Oxford, 2014) and Scientific Controversies. A Socio-historical Perspective on the Advancement of Science (New Brunswick, 2015).

Bibliographic information


Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2017

“Raynaud (science historian, Univ. of Grenoble Alpes, France) systematically examines themes connected to optics, linear perspective, and the theory of binocular vision, especially as these pertain to Renaissance art. … The book makes an important contribution to the scholarship of Renaissance optics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals.” (T. Timmons, Choice, Vol. 54 (10), June, 2017)