Abstract

The eighteenth century is often regarded as a period when optics was stultified by Newton's dominant influence and the controversy of two rival hypotheses: the wave theory and the corpuscular theory of light. However, a study of the controversial development of achromatic lenses reveals a deeper underlying conflict between two different types of mechanistic philosophy—one Newtonian and the other Cartesian. This conflict, both methodological and cosmological, pitted inductivism against deductivism. Two pivotal issues were the role of mathematics and the nature of experimentation. Here we have a clear example of the interaction of science and philosophy.

© 1975 Optical Society of America

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