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Ibn al-Haytham, the Arab who brought Greek optics into focus for Latin Europe


Ibn al-Haytham remains an unknown figure in the development of optics from the ancient Greeks to Latin Europe. He put to rest the idea of visual rays being emitted from the eye, demonstrating vision occurs by intromission of light rays to the eye. Through observational experimentation he characterized the behavior of light and described many visual phenomena that are now considered visual perception. Ibn al-Haytham’s most significant work, Kitab al-Manazir was written in the eleventh century and was translated to Latin, as De aspectibus during the middle of the thirteenth century. Its introduction to Latin Europe stimulated the study of optics within the nascent universities of Europe and provided a model to conduct experiments and influenced natural philosophers for centuries.


perspectivist optics, intromission, extramission, eidola, arabic philosophers, witelo, pecham, kepler