Friday, 30 September 2016

Book Reviews (1988) - JCS 28-29


RUĐER BOŠKOVIĆ. By Žarko Dadić. (Zagreb, Školska knjiga, 1987, pp. 208)

Much was written about Ruđer Bošković (1711-87) during his lifetime. For most of the nineteenth century he was less appreciated, but during the last eight decades interest in him has become universal and intense. This year we commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of his death. Meetings and symposia about his work have been held in various cities (e.g. Vienna, Boston Zagreb, Rome and Milan) at which the "modernity" of his penetrating thought has been examined. Some new research and interpretations have recently appeared, among them Žarko Dadić's monograph, which deserves special attention.

Dadić continues the work on Bošković by other Croatian scholars (F. Rački, V. Varićak, Br. Truhelka, St. Hondl, B. Borčić and especially Z. Marković). He has published several studies about Bošković's astronomy and given him extensive space in the first volume of his History of Natural Sciences in Croatia (Povijest egzaktnih znanosti u Hrvata, Zagreb 1982). In his monograph, Dadić describes Bošković's life and particularly the areas of study in which he distinguished himself. Dadić also gives both the original Croatian text and its English translation, and he has included pictures of the edifices and institutions in which he studied and worked, scholars who preceded him or were his contemporaries, his "dissertations" and books, documents about him as a French citizen and employee, and letters which he wrote, such as one to a Polish king begging him to protect his native city Dubrovnik from the menacing Russian navy. At the end Dadić includes a basic bibliography on Bošković (121 items). Perhaps it would have been better if the important dates of Bošković's life were also brought in with the bibliography of his works and the Index of the persons mentioned in the monograph. True, chronology is treated in the course of the narrative, but only incidentally, and it would seem desirable to see it collected at one spot.

Dadić presents Bošković somewhat differently than, for example, Ž. Marković in his generally excellent biography, R. Bošković (Zagreb 1968-69). Dadić is more interested in focusing upon Bošković as a scholar than in giving details of his turbulent life. He begins sketching three schools of natural philosophy, those of Aristotle, Descartes, and Newton, reviews science in Bošković's time. He also presents the situation in Dubrovnik because Bošković had remained in permanent contact with its prominent citizens, as well as a substantial discussion of Bošković's attitude toward the scientific ideas of his contemporaries. Dadić also reviews Theory of Natural Philosophy (Theoria philosophiae naturalis, Vienna 1758, Venice 1763, Chicago 1922, Zagreb 1974) in all its aspects, including its influence upon various scholars from the 18th century onwards. Separate chapters are devoted to Bošković's contribution to other fields of science.

Complete article:

Journal of Croatian Studies, XXVIII-XXIX, 1987-88 - Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.

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