History of Optical Illusions

Optical illusions can play tricks on your eyes, leaving you wondering if what you are seeing is real or imagined. It has been a common spectacle for many generations, and some people took it upon themselves to try to explain the mystery behind optical illusions.


The history of optical illusions dates back to the 5th Century B.C. Epicharmus was the first historian who attempted to explain what they were all about. He was a Greek Philosopher who lived around 450 B.C., and he believed that the physical senses of touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing were always messing up and not paying attention enough to what was happening around them. In his opinion, the mind hears and sees, but the rest of the senses are blind.


Protagoras came after Epicharmus and opposed this view, saying that all the senses and the full body were fine, but the environment is what messes people up. His opinion was that a human being is made up of nothing but sensations.


Aristotle lived around 350 B.C., and he said that the philosophers before him were both right and wrong. He explained that the senses could be trusted, but they also can be easily fooled. On a hot day, for example, heat waves rise, and the eyes can see them. Looking at a tree through the waves, one can see as though the tree is wiggling, and this is where the senses get fooled.


Plato too made his contribution to the history of optical illusions. He came after these three philosophers and lived around 300 B.C. in his view; the five senses rely on the mind to interpret what they perceive. The eyes and the brain, for example, need to work together for us to know what we know.


It was a long time before someone else got an optical illusion. In 1826, Johannes Mueller, a psychologist, wrote two books about optical illusions. His approach to the concept left many people confused, as he was the first person to refer to the distortions as visual illusions. J.J Oppel, in 1854, took over from where Muller had left, and published a ten pages paper in which he elaborated about line illusions. Unfortunately, up to date no one has ever seen the chimeras he demonstrated in his writing, but they became trendy and everyone liked them.


Hermann Von Helmholtz is yet another philosopher who tried his hand at explaining the concept of optical illusions. He developed the idea of cognitive illusions and agreed with Protagoras. His perspective holds that the assumptions people hold about the environment around them triggers cognitive illusion.


In 1915, W. E Hill created a picture with the faces of a young, and an old lady merged together. While some people saw the young face, others saw eh old woman, and he used the picture to explain the concept of an optical illusion as a subject of individual perceptions. The 1960s saw the rise of visual art, with many artists such as Bridget and Vasarely painting hidden images, vibrations, and other abstract images and making a living out of the art, which many people engage in today.

Nowadays, among the common lower back ache causes, trying to get a strange angled photo comes in the list too!