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Discharge or sending out, especially of ‘visual fire’ from the eyes in the process of seeing, according to a false theory propounded by the Greek philosopher Empedocles (?490–430bc) and endorsed by later Greek philosophers and scientists, including Plato, Euclid, and Ptolemy. In modern times, the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896–1980) was the first to report, in his book La Représentation du Monde chez l'Enfant (1926, translated as The Child's Conception of the World, 1929), that children continue to believe in emissions of rays or fluids from the eyes during vision, and they tend to assume that people's gazes can collide or mix. More recent studies have revealed that a large proportion of adults (in some US studies more than half) implicitly believe in visual extramission. Compare intuitive physics. [From Latin extra outside + missio a sending out, from mittere to send]

Subjects: Psychology.

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