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date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Hobbes is known principally because of his works on political theory, but like many of his contemporaries he had a keen interest in natural sciences and mathematics and especially optics. His research on optics played a key part in the development of his mechanical philosophy and was of major significance in the development of optical science in the seventeenth century. He considered his optical theories to be a break from the Scholastic tradition and developed an explanation of light and vision that was strictly mechanistic. Until the time of Newton and Huygens, Hobbes’s sine law of refraction was the only mechanistic alternative to Descartes’s and was a major influence on Maignan and Barrow’s theories of refraction.

Keywords: Hobbes, optics, optical science, mechanical philosophy, light and vision, sine law of refraction

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