Instrumental Traditions

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


During the optical revolution, there were different styles of operating optical instruments, and their impact on the dispute between the two rival theories of light was evident. The differences in the use of optical instruments during the optical revolution originated from two incompatible instrumental traditions. This chapter begins with a brief historical review of these instrumental traditions. In their early years, optical instruments functioned primarily as visual aids to the eye, which was regarded as an ideal optical instrument. But when more and more optical instruments were used as measuring devices, the reliability of the eye came into question. In this context, there emerged two incompatible instrumental traditions, each of which endorsed a body of practices, both articulated and tacit, that defined how optical instruments should be operated, and particularly, how the eye should be used in optical experiments.


Seventeenth Century Optical Instrument Early Nineteenth Century Chromatic Aberration Optical Experiment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

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

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