The Human Organism as a Person


Add this book to your list of well-kept secrets.  First a little background.  In the 1960s, two optometric giants, Drs. Monroe Hirsch and Ralph Wick recognized that there were relatively few books geared predominantly toward optometric readership.  They influenced the Chilton Book Company to publish a series of books delineating the scope of the profession, titled the Principles of Optometry series.  The topics included Geometrical Optics, Amblyopia, Vision and Highway Safety – but the first book in the series (1967) fascinatingly was The Human Organism as a Person.  It’s author, Dr. S. Howard Bartley, was one of the country’s leading experimental psychologists, as evidenced in this tribute by his colleague from OSU, Dr. Glenn Fry.

Bartley devoted considerable attention to the Accessory Optic Tracts, part of a system that has gained renewed attention in this century for its role in visual-vestibular interaction and in spatial cognition.  Most recently, it has been postulated to be a fugitive control system implicated in infantile strabismus.  Consider some key quotes in Bartley’s chapters on the subject:

“The visual system, thought of as a system to provide for sight, is a system that performs other functions that seem remote from vision, unless and until vision is redefined in a broader way than it usually is.”

“The visual system includes more than the tract leading to the visual projection area in the cerebral cortex, where information is utilized in various ways by dissemination to other parts of the cortex.  It includes even more than the familiar tracts to the superior colliculus and the pretectal nucleus for the production of eye movements and posture and other more effects involved in the process of seeing.”

“That the accessory optic system is quite closely connected with the systems just described suggests a different interpretation of the role of the visual system and the manner in which inputs from the retina produce end results in the human’s physiological state, his feeling, and in his overt behavior.”

2 thoughts on “The Human Organism as a Person

  1. Dr. Bartley worked and lived in Memphis and we used another of his books in optometry school – Principles of Perception first edition. The second edition was printed the year of my graduation. He spoke to our class once but it was way over my head then and somewhat now :>)))

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