- Some Rough Thoughts On Spinoza and Technology - Continuing thoughts on the possible conclusions that can be drawn from Spinoza’s criticism of Huygens’ lens-grinding machines from letter 32 to Oldenburg
- Huygens’s Lens – a photo of the lens that Huygens’ used to discover the moon and rings of Saturn in 1655. The presence of an Ovid line on the glass is noted.
- Spinoza: Not As Abused As Is Said - the evidence for the presumed disparagement of Spinoza’s optical knowledge (and social standing) is questioned.
- What Spinoza and Huygens Would Have Seen – a brief research and imagination of what Spinoza and Huygens would have seen if they looked together at the night sky on a mid-summer date, in the village of Voorburg in 1665.
- Did the Huygenses “buy” Spinoza’s lens polishing technique? - a hypothetical account of how the acquisition of Spinoza’s lens-grinding equipment might have accelerated Christiaan Huygens production of the single lens microscope.
- Huygens’s Comments On Spinoza’s Theory of the Microscope to His Brother – a posting of the original French text of Huygens’s May 11 1668 letter to his brother, and some commentary on conclusions for Spinoza’s technique.
- Monconys’ Visit: Six Degrees of Separation for Spinoza – the importance of French diplomat Bathazar Moconys’ 1663 visit is fleshed out. This visit ties together some of the most signfiicant figures in Spinoza’s optical milieu, Hudde, Vossius, Huygens, (not to mention Vermeer at Delft) and attests to the pervasiveness of the single-lens, bead microscope design.
- Simple or Compound: Spinoza’s Microscopes – A discussion of the conclusions that may be drawn from Christiaan Huygens’ 1668 admission that Spinoza is correct that smaller objective lenses produce finer representations of objects.
- Spinoza’s Comments on Huygens’s Progress -letter 32’s observations on and objections to Huygens’ lens grinding machine are examined. Significant aspects of the Latin are retranslated, making more clear Spinoza’s point of emphasis, and opening of questions about whether Spinoza had extensive experience in polishing (or grinding) metal forms.
- Spinoza’s Lens-Grinding Equipment - A commentary on the likely source types for Spinoza’s grinding laps, given those used by the Huygenses, with a rough assessment of Spinoza’s place in the milieu local knowledge.
- To Understand Spinoza’s Letter 32 to Oldenburg - Various designs of Christiaan Huygens’s actual (and theoretical) lens grinding machines are shown to give better context to Spinoza’s description of, and objection to, the device he likely saw, as written about in letter 32. The issue of mechanistic complexity, the role of the craftsman, and Spinoza’s notion of liberation is broached.
- Traces of Spinoza’s Microscope - Evidence is cited that Huygens primarily used melted bead lenses, and a diagram is presented from Huygens’s notebook which may represent design elements of Spinoza’s microscopes purchased at the auction of his estate.
- The Text of van Gutschoven’s Letter to Huygens No. 1148 – a 1663 letter from the mathematician van Gutschoven which shows lens-grinding techniques for small lenses typical of the period.
kvond of the blog Frames/sing has an intensive look into the influence of optics on the metaphysics of Spinoza, who was a lens grinder by trade. Listed here, the articles in which he touches upon Leeuwenhoek:
Van Leeuwenhoek’s View of Technology and Spinoza - prospectively, a philosophical consideration of Van Leeuwenhoek’s refusal to show others his lenses, his methodology of examination and instrument design is put in relationship to Spinoza’s own likely merchant-class approach to optics and instruments. The powers of instrumentation and issues of specimen staging are brought together.
The Simple Microscope in the Hands of Van Leeuwenhoek and Huygens – A comparison between the rotary conception of the specimen viewing found in Christiaan Huygens microscope and the Van Leeuwenhoek idea of a ”staged”, fixed specimen, as it reflects a different idea of device and observation.
On the Issue of Clarity and Light: Van Leeuwenhoek’s Lenses - a 1685 quote by Thomas Molyneux is presented in support of the view that the lens polish of bead, single microscope lenses can have a determinative affect on distinctness and luminosity.
On September 17, 1683, Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society about his observations on the plaque between his own teeth, “a little white matter, which is as thick as if ’twere batter.” He repeated these observations on two ladies (probably his own wife and daughter), and on two old men who had never cleaned their teeth in their lives. Looking at these samples with his microscope, Leeuwenhoek reported how in his own mouth: “I then most always saw, with great wonder, that in the said matter there were many very little living animalcules, very prettily a-moving. The biggest sort. . . had a very strong and swift motion, and shot through the water (or spittle) like a pike does through the water. The second sort. . . oft-times spun round like a top. . . and these were far more in number.” In the mouth of one of the old men, Leeuwenhoek found “an unbelievably great company of living animalcules, a-swimming more nimbly than any I had ever seen up to this time. The biggest sort. . . bent their body into curves in going forwards. . . Moreover, the other animalcules were in such enormous numbers, that all the water. . . seemed to be alive.”
These were among the first observations on living bacteria ever recorded.
(from his biography at Berkeley)
SarahAskew Blog gives some details of the celebrations taking place around the invention of the telescope:
“2008 marks the 400th anniversary of the invention of the telescope. Although Galileo famously carried out his first astronomical observations with a telescope in 1609, the first telescopes actually appeared in 1608, right here in the Netherlands. Dutch spectacle maker Hans Lipperhey was the first to apply for a patent after showing his new invention to Prince Maurits of Orange.
A number of events have been planned locally in the Netherlands to commemorate Lipperhey’s invention, which paved the way for generations of astronomers (like me!) to build ever bigger and better telescopes.”
Read the whole article here…
And go to Middelburg Teleskoop for more information.
From the publishers blurb:
“In this wide-ranging and stimulating book, a leading authority on the history of medicine and science presents convincing evidence that Dutch commerce—not religion—inspired the rise of science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Harold J. Cook scrutinizes a wealth of historical documents relating to the study of medicine and natural history in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, Brazil, South Africa, and Asia during this era, and his conclusions are fresh and exciting. He uncovers direct links between the rise of trade and commerce in the Dutch Empire and the flourishing of scientific investigation.”