Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Light Theory

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_941-1


Renaissance advancements in light theory were grounded in innovative approaches to optics and ray theory by both scientists of the Arabic-speaking world as well as the great Scholastic philosophers who incorporated their discoveries into the edifice of Western proto-science. Heavenly lights – stars, planets, the sun, and virtually any body which transited the sky – were slowly evolving from religious phenomena to objects of natural philosophy. An arc can be followed from Classical and Neoplatonic philosophy to that of Medieval Arabic and Scholastic philosophy that increasingly views light (and other forms of radiation, whether or not they were visible), in newly material and predictable terms. These advancements in knowledge about the properties of light led to the development of new ways which humanity manipulated and interacted with light in the Renaissance.

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Primary Literature

  1. Al-Kindi. 1995. De radiis stellarum, eds. E. Albrile, and S. Fumagalli. Trans. E. Turri. Milano: Mimesis.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. 1933–35. Metaphysics. Trans. Hugh Tredennick. New York: Putnam’s.Google Scholar
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  5. Kepler, Johannus. 1604. Ad Vitellionem Paralipomena, Quibus Astronomiae Pars Optica Traditur. Frankfurt: Claudium Marnium and Haeredes Joannis Aubrii.Google Scholar
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Secondary Literature

  1. Ackerman, James S. 1980. On early renaissance color theory and practice. Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 35: 11–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bettini, Sergio. 2009. Shaping light: Practice and theory in renaissance architecture, Howard Hibbert Forum. New York: Columbia University.Google Scholar
  3. Moshe, Barasch. 1978. Light and color in the Italian renaissance theory of art. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Quinlan-McGrath, Mary. 2013. Influences: Art, optics, and astrology in the Italian renaissance. Chicago/London: Chicago University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Filosofia delle Scienze FormativeCa’ Foscari University of VeniceVeniceItaly

Section editors and affiliations

  • Matteo Valleriani
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany