This chapter explains occurrences during and after the Scientific Revolution, in which the personification of nature that is at the heart of the Aristotelian philosophy had a nasty way of reappearing in the most orthodox of machine-metaphor- influenced places. Even more than mechanics, optics was riddled with final-cause thinking. Pierrre de Fermat's “principle of least time” explains Snell's law of refraction, the connection between the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction. Since light going from a less dense to a denser medium is bent toward the normal, it is not going from beginning to end by the shortest distance. But assuming that light travels less quickly in a more dense than less dense medium, one can show that it does travel in the shortest time.
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