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This section discusses the pre-photon understanding of the polarization of light. For the photon one see: photon polarization.
People were a bit confused when experiments started to show that light might be polarized. How could a wave that propages through a 3D homgenous material like luminiferous aether have polarization?? Light would presumably be understood to be analogous to a sound wave in 3D medium, which cannot have polarization. This was before Maxwell's equations, in the early 19th century, so there was no way to know.