9:05 AM – 9:55 AM MW
See Schedule of Classes for discussion section times
Vision is one of the elementary processes of life, but at the same time deeply mysterious: how exactly does vision work? Can we really trust our eyes? What is the mind's role in seeing? Are our eyes passive receptors or active contributors to sensory perception? How do insects see? And how can we find out what our own eyes and brain are doing when we see? Anatomists and physiologists, philosophers of various stripes, psychologists, mathematicians, and physicists, artists, and physicians have grappled with such questions. Beginning in the seventeenth century, this course will survey a wide range of approaches to the study of vision. We will examine what anatomists learned from dissecting eyes and physicians from pathologies of vision; how telescopes and microscopes revolutionized the understanding of perception; why philosophers cared about pure sensations; how painters employed the science of perspective to create visual effects; why physiologists became interested in kaleidoscopes and stroboscopes; and how all these endeavors have contributed to our understanding of this complex, elusive, and yet so basic activity: vision. This course will integrate transformations in the study of vision with broader scientific, socio-political, and cultural changes in society.