Perception and Illusion

Historical Perspectives

  • Nicholas J. Wade

Part of the Library of the History of Psychological Theories book series (LHPT)

About this book


The understanding of perception is central to our knowledge of the mind. Yet paradoxically, this understanding was born of centuries of fascination with errors of human perception. Perception and Illusion: Historical Perspectives elegantly retraces this scientific journey, not only in terms of its trials and errors but in its complex relationships with painting and medicine, philosophy and physics.

In this accessible volume, Nicholas Wade surveys over two millennia of scientific inquiry and research, describing the evolution of theories of light, sight, and illusion from early naturalistic observation to our sophisticated present-day experiments. Optics, physiology, and ophthalmology are seen emerging from beneath the burden of tradition and dogma. So, too, do doctors and thinkers studying the senses become practitioners devoted to specialized domains.

    • The Greek foundations of perception: Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy
    • Art and perception before and after the Renaissance: color mixing and linear 
    • The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: ocular anatomy meets optical science; the 
    separation of sight from light
    • Perception and behavior: illusions and the roots of psychology in the nineteenth
    century; the fragmentation of the senses; harnessing space and time
    • Perceptual innovations in the twentieth century: from infant vision through visual
    physiology to virtual reality.

Perception and Illusion: Historical Perspectives is illuminating reading for students of the history of psychology, optics, and medicine, and provides insights into the history and progress of science. In addition to charting these visual milestones, Wade reminds the reader in an articulate manner of perceptual controversies—including some of the most basic ones—that have yet to be resolved.


Accommodation anatomy brain experiment language nature perception physiology science

Authors and affiliations

  • Nicholas J. Wade
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DundeeDundeeUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005
  • Publisher Name Springer, Boston, MA
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science
  • Print ISBN 978-0-387-22722-1
  • Online ISBN 978-0-387-22723-8
  • Buy this book on publisher's site