Optics it must clearly be stated is not a theory of light but a theory of materials that transform the behaviour of light. Thus a prior theory of matter which incorporated light is needed and such a theory is found in corpuscularianism.
This old fashioned word is now subsumed in the modern notion of chemistry, which is the only theory of matter we currently hold. Drawn from chemistry are the related subjects of mechanics of bodies (corpus) in terms of relative motions, and the biology of bodies (corpus) in terms of their biospherical and zoological and botanical relationships.
High enrgy Physics and theoretical physics is very much a root and branch of chemistry.
The atomic/molecular theory of chemistry has given way to a quantum mechanical description of matter which now has various flavoirs, colours and quarkiness! Theoreticians have gone to a supposed n dimensional explanation that involves twistors and rotors and other sorts of symmetry relationships, ll in an attempt tp describe what "matter" is, to give a handle on "reality".
Whatever the persuasion, no serious high energy physicist/ closet alchemist conceives of "matter" as material in any oldfashioned sense. They consider it as some mysterious substance called "energy" in various states and symmetries of motion and relationships.
Simply put "matter" or its cognate "mass" is "congealed energy", if it is anything at all. Of course this begs the question"what is energy?".
The solution to this unending onion layer like state of affairs is to accept and adopt a fractal geometric paradigm. This is no cop out, but an explicit recognition of the nature and limit of our subjective processing capabilities. While we may extend definitions and remove tautologies to further distances from our everyday analogies, it is demonstrable that we can never finalise any definition ofr theory or set of propositions without a larger set of propositions to explicitly confer decidability on the original set. Godel's incompleteness theorem demonstrates that. Thus whatever set of tautologies we accept as axioms decides the flavour or colour or form or shape of our theory constructed on them.
The nature of matter is therefore undecideable, but the axioms we accept as foundational are within our choice. To my knowledge Grassmann is the main theoretician who realised that concentrationg on relations between magnitudes removed the old boundary lines between certain subjects and redrew the map. Consequently he developed his method to be used in all aspects of science so long as i involved magnitudes. In particular, his "multipleform" approach crossed the subject boundaries and liberated what it was possible to characterise by a magnitude.
Although he concentrated mainly on the mechanics and physics of matter, it is clear that he saw arole for his analysis wherever the techniques of mathematics may be employed.
Of course i have spent some time delineating the debt that Grassmann owes to the Euclidean teaching material, and thus with a new light one may understand that Euclidean concepts, after Pythagorean philosophy and metaphysics, was a real theory of matter. However, it is clear that Grassmann and all theoreticians to the time of Dalton worked on an Extensive theory of matter. There is very little theoretical structure for intensive theories of mater until Gauss and others began to establish the standard units of dimension, extending them to include intensities such as light brightness and temperature etc.
However, it was really the Chemists, based ona Diocletian atomic theory who began to establish the intensive theories of matter, seeking a transmutative and transformative power that could alter lead into gold.
As cliched as this characterisation of Alchemy is, it nevertheless captures the refusal to accept that matter was fixed in some fundamental unitary way. That is there is no basis for unity in reallity, all transforms all changes. The religious notion behind this is the permanence of "spirit" and the impermanence of matter.
The ultimate, ideal, unchangeable reality was God's or the gods spiritual one, all else could be transformed by the will of god. Thus god could make mere earth into food and wine by "his word". Alchemists therefore sought a closer union with the gods, not riches.
As time has progressed, it has become clear that the immense power of the gods assumed in performing these tranformations is a very real power, whether the gods are accepted or not. Thus the alchemist dream of becoming godlike has resulted in a material power that threatens animate life, but no more than any other natural power or force on this planet.
Thus one has a theory of matter which is describable in many ways but scientists hold on to the wave particle dualism, without realising that a new theory of matter is poossible based on the intensivity/ extensivity continuum of magnitude. This necessarily requires a fractal theory of geometry and a realisation of the lack of a unitary basis for matter. In this regard, Grassmann's Ausdehnungsgroesse as multipleforms and combinations of magnitudes of all types is a relevant starting point for building such a theory.