Instrumental Traditions and Theories of Light

The Uses of Instruments in the Optical Revolution

  • Xiang Chen

Part of the Science and Philosophy book series (SCPH, volume 9)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Xiang Chen
    Pages 1-12
  3. Xiang Chen
    Pages 13-26
  4. Xiang Chen
    Pages 47-67
  5. Xiang Chen
    Pages 109-128
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 167-212

About this book


An analysis of the optical revolution in the context of early 19th century Britain. Far from merely involving the replacement of one optical theory by another, the revolution also involved substantial changes in instruments and the practices that surrounded them. People's judgements about classification, explanation and evaluation were affected by the way they used such optical instruments as spectroscopes, telescopes, polarisers, photometers, gratings, prisms and apertures. There were two instrumental traditions in this historical period, each of which nurtured a body of practice that exemplified how optical instruments should be operated, and especially how the eye should be used. These traditions functioned just like paradigms, shaping perspectives and even world views.
Readership: Scholars and graduate students in the history of science, history of instrument, philosophy of science and science studies. Can also be used as a textbook in graduate courses on 19th century physics.


19th century Prism optical instruments optical revolution optical theory philosophy of science science theory of light

Authors and affiliations

  • Xiang Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.California Lutheran UniversityUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-94-010-5824-7
  • Online ISBN 978-94-011-4195-6
  • Series Print ISSN 0924-4697
  • Buy this book on publisher's site