The Microscope and the Eye

A History of Reflections, 1740-1870

Jutta Schickore

The Microscope and the Eye

Jutta Schickore

320 pages | 16 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2007
Cloth $52.00 ISBN: 9780226737843 Published October 2007
The microscope’s technical capabilities and uses expanded dramatically in the early nineteenth century, when it emerged as an important tool for medical education and played a key role in the development of the cell theory, among other advancements. Focusing on the decades surrounding this crucial period, Jutta Schickore weaves a fascinating story of microscopy by tracing the entwined history of the eye and the optical instrument.

Concentrating on Great Britain and the German lands—home to the period’s most significant developments in microscopy—The Microscope and the Eye examines debates about such subjects as the legitimacy of human trespassing on the microcosm and the nature of light. Schickore also explores the microscope’s role in investigations of the finer structure of the eye and the workings of nerve fibers and the microscopists’ reflections on vision, illusion, artifacts, and the merits of instruments. Fully considering the epistemological, metaphysical, and methodological implications of this centuries-old relationship, The Microscope and the Eye will be an important contribution to the history of the life sciences, vision studies, and scientific methodology.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: The History of Microscopy, Vision Studies, and Scientific

1. The Versatile Tool of Improvement
2. Encountering Optical Deceptions
3. Tools of Accuracy
4. Microscopic Fallacies, Peculiar Optical Deceptions, and the Eye’s Defects
5. Test Objects and the Pretensions, Defects, and Excellencies of Individual Microscopes
6. Johannes Müller and the Problem of “Subject-Object”
7. Bringing Physics to Anatomy
8. Handling Nervous Tissue and the Problem of Visual Acuity
9. The Microscope’s Retina
10. Writing on Microscopy

Conclusion: The Advance of Reflexive Concerns          
Review Quotes
Robert Brain, University of British Columbia

The Microscope and the Eye will be of great interest to a broad range of historians of science, as well as scholars of visuality and visual culture. Shrewdly applying the most innovative methods in the field to a diverse body of source materials (some of them previously unexplored), this book deepens our knowledge and, more important, clarifies a number of confusions and conundrums that have long surrounded the history of microscopy, instruments, and questions of vision and physiological optics.”

Lynn K. Nyhart, University of Wisconsin

In The Microscope and the Eye, Jutta Schickore brings a historian’s sensibility to the examination of fundamental philosophical issues surrounding sight and its instrumental extension before 1850. Developing her own instrument, the analysis of ‘second-order’ questions about the value and uses of the microscope, Schickore combines a broad field of view with an exquisitely sensitive resolving power. The resulting finely textured account shows what it meant to ‘know’ with the microscope before 1850 and explains just how this instrument—and the methodological discourses around it—became central to nineteenth-century science.”

"A wonderfully detailed account of the tandem development of the seers (microscopes and their users) and the seen (functional organization of the eye) from the late-18th through the mid-19th centuries. More than a book about scientific advancement, this is a philosophical analysis of passionate human endeavor. . . . Highly recommended."
Deborah Jean Warner | Technology and Culture
"While this book is written primarily for historians and philosophers of science, there is much here to interest historians of technology."
Lindsay Wilson | American Historical Review
In this elegant, fine-grained study, Jutta Schickore makes a significant contribution to the history and philosophy of science and raises some historiographical issues that are likely to be of interest to more general historians."

History of Science Society: Pfizer Award
Short Listed/Finalist

View Recent Awards page for more award winning books.
For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

Chicago Blog: Biology

Events in Biology

Keep Informed