Roger Joseph Boscovich


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Jesuit mathematician and scientist. Born in Dubrovnik of Serbian and Italian parents, Rudjer Josip Bošković was educated at Rome, and became professor of mathematics at the Collegium Romanum in 1740. He contributed extensively to different branches of mathematics and physics, but his philosophical fame rests on Philosophiae Naturalis Theoria Redacta ad Unicam Legem Virium in Natura Existentium (‘A Theory of Natural Philosophy Reduced to a Single Law of the Actions Existing in Nature’, 1758, trs. as Theory of Natural Philosophy, 1922). In this work Boscovich rejects the corpuscular theory that bases physics on the actions of impenetrable, inelastic, solid, massy atoms. Instead, following some of Leibniz's objections to this conception, he develops a theory of puncta, or point particles, interacting with each other according to an oscillatory law. There is nothing to the existence of a point particle except the kinematic forces with which it is associated. Boscovich's views were influential on scientists such as Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell and provided a forerunner of modern field theories. See also action at a distance, corpuscles, field.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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