Rnggiero Ginseppe Boscovich, an Italian natural philosopher, born at Ragusa, May 18, 1711, died in Milan, Feb. 12, 1787. He was a member of the society of Jesus, a distinguished mathematician and astronomer, and the originator of a system of natural philosophy which regards the senses as immediately cognizant, not of matter itself, but only of the attractive and repelling forces which particles exercise upon each other. His Philosophic Naturalis Theoria (Vienna, 1758) expounded the doctrine of the propagation of pressure through solid bodies, and threw much light upon the comparatively new doctrine of cohesion. He was for many years professor of mathematics in the Roman college, and for six years in the university of Pavia. Subsequently he became professor of astronomy and optics at Milan, where he established an observatory. He was employed in measuring a degree of the meridian, in correcting the maps of the Papal States, and in settling boundary questions. He was a member of the royal society of London and of many other learned bodies at home and abroad. After the abolition of his order in 1773, he spent several years in Paris as director of the optical department in the navy, receiving a pension of 8,000 livres.
Vexed by the jealousy of D'Alembert and others, he returned to Italy, superintended at Bassano the publication of his complete works (5 vols., 1785), visited Rome, and finally retired to Milan. Among his writings on astronomy and other branches of physical science are De Maculis Solar ibus (1736) and De Expeditione ad Dimentiendos Secundi Meridiani Gradus (Rome, 1755). His didactic poem De Soils ac Lunm Defectibus (London, 1764) was translated into French by the abbe de Barruel (Paris, 1779). He published annotated editions with supplements of Noceti's works on the rainbow and the aurora borealis, and of Benedict Stay's poems on the Cartesian and other modern philosophical systems. His narra ive of his journey from Constantinople to Poland appeared in French in 1772, in German in 1779, and in Italian in 1784.