Optice: sive de reflexionibus, refractionibus, inflexionibus & coloribus lucis libri tres [Optics: or Three Books on the Reflections, Refractions, Diffractions & Colors of Light]. Translated from the English into Latin by Samuel Clarke.

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Creator

Isaac Newton (1643–1727).

Title

Optice: sive de reflexionibus, refractionibus, inflexionibus & coloribus lucis libri tres [Optics: or Three Books on the Reflections, Refractions, Diffractions & Colors of Light]. Translated from the English into Latin by Samuel Clarke.

Publisher

London: Sam. Smith & Benj. Walford,

Date

1706.

Description

I have always sought to collect books on optics that were actually read, used, and carried some intellectual heft. This translation of Opticks (1704) was the mechanism by which Newton’s optical ideas achieved their wide impact. It permitted all of Europe to study Newton’s experiments and conclusions regarding the nature of light and color. And it was Optice, not Opticks, that began to be cited in 1709 in continental scientific works.

Optice augmented the brief, final Queries of Opticks with bold, speculative essays that set the terms of inquiry into optics for the rest of the eighteenth century. Though Queries 18 and 19 are well known—asking whether light was a wave or a particle—it is Query 20 that adds bibliographic interest to Optice’s intellectual importance. It asked if infinite, empty space wasn’t the “Sensorium of God.” Before printing of this edition was completed, Newton and Clarke decided this was too bold. Clarke revised the paragraph and weakened the statement to a simile by adding the Latin tanquam (as if, as it were), resulting in the cancel at Ss1. But a few copies had already left the printer without the cancel, and one of these ended up in Leibnitz’s hands, who objected to the idea of God having a physical sensorium. The issue was debated in the later Clarke-Leibnitz correspondence of 1715–16. Most copies of the Optice of 1706 have the cancel. This copy does not, retaining the original leaf and thus revealing the text of Newton’s original thought.

Source

David L. DiLaura

Tags

Citation

Isaac Newton (1643–1727). , “Optice: sive de reflexionibus, refractionibus, inflexionibus & coloribus lucis libri tres [Optics: or Three Books on the Reflections, Refractions, Diffractions & Colors of Light]. Translated from the English into Latin by Samuel Clarke. ,” Grolier Club Exhibitions, accessed June 25, 2018, http://grolierclub.omeka.net/items/show/349.