An Optics of Visual Experience

Georg Maier

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  • Guides us towards an understanding of visual phenomena based on our experience

An experienced physicist guides us towards an understanding of visual phenomena based on our direct experience.

216 x 206 mm
Adonis Press
Philosophy of Human Life
232 pages
Publication date:
11 Aug 2011


The early days of modern science were characterised by empiricism, giving rise to the phrase 'seeing is believing'. In recent years, however, a mistrust of the senses has asserted itself. Physical optics has increasingly removed itself from immediate visual experience -- what we see around us -- focusing instead on abstract theories and the measurements of sophisticated instruments. We are left with an impoverished relationship with our world.

Georg Maier has devoted much of his career as a physicist to studying the visual world, and he understands the importance of sensory experience for deepening and enlivening our scientific understanding of nature. In this groundbreaking book, he guides us towards an understanding of visual phenomena based on our experience.

This is a book for anyone interested in the visual world and how we interact with it. It will also be challenging reading for those with a background in conventional physical optics, leading to a richer appreciation of the phenomena and a deepening of knowledge.

Table of Contents

1. The Seeing Eye
2. Seeing in Space: Relating Optics to Geometry -- a First Step
3. Mirror Images
4. Exporing Air, Water and Glass
5. Light as the Relationship between Appearances
6. Shadow Images
7. Practical Optics
8. Seeing Clearly
9. Development Geometrical Principles in Optics (Visual Connnections)
10. Afterimages


'Keeping to its own principles, this book is full of pictures and rich descriptions of visual experiences … What strikes one about this wonderfully evocative book is that it is full of rich descriptions that come across as a kind of magic, conjuring up deep inner experiences of the inner world of light and engaging the reader in a holistic experience of light as a being of perception, thought, feeling and will … This book would be of interest to scientists, science teachers, artists and anyone who wishes for a holistic experience of light and images and to engage consciously with the world of visual experiences.'
-- Archetype


Georg Maier is a physicist at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. He directs research into modes of observation and conceptualization of nature. Formerly, he was involved in neutron diffraction research at the Kernforschungsanlage Jülich (KFA) in Germany. Georg Maier is a coauthor of Being on Earth (1996) and The Marriage of Sense and Thought (1997).

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