I'm trying to make a timeline of momentum for my physics class and I keep running across a paper by Jean Buridan called QM XII.9: 73ra. I don't know what any of this means, and I don't know how to find the work on my own. If someone could help me find it or tell me how to decipher the title that would be great. Thanks.
On John Buridan's page in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, we have the citation:
Buridan, John, 1588 (actually 1518), In Metaphysicen Aristotelis Questiones argutissimae, Paris. Rpr. 1964, as Kommentar zur Aristotelischen Metaphysik, Frankfurt a. M.: Minerva. [QM]
which suggests that the 'QM' in your citation is 'In Metaphysicen Aristotelis Questiones argutissimae'.
This identification is confirmed in the paper John Buridan's Solution to the Problem of Universals, by Peter King of Toronto University, p27.
A copy of the text of 'In Metaphysicen Aristotelis Questiones argutissimae' (in Latin!) is available to view on Google Books or the BnF Gallica site. In this case, the page you are interested in (see below) is probably easier to read on the Google Books version.
The original text is in Latin, but a translation of the passage you are interested in is actually provided on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy page cited above:
”after leaving the arm of the thrower, the projectile would be moved by an impetus given to it by the thrower, and would continue to be moved as long as the impetus remained stronger than the resistance, and would be of infinite duration were it not diminished and corrupted by a contrary force resisting it or by something inclining it to a contrary motion”
More generally, to understand a citation of this sort, you also need to understand a little of the language of palaeography and manuscript studies.
The XII.9 is relatively straightforward. It simply means:
- Liber XII (Book 12)
- Quaestio 9 (Question 9) [in the general case, the second number will often refer to the chapter or 'capitulum', frequently abbreviated to 'cap']
However, the '73ra' is the bit that requires some understanding of the specialist terminology.
A single sheet of writing material is called a 'folio'. In a case like this where the folios have been bound together, this will be a single page of the manuscript book.
The front side of a folio is called the 'recto', the back is the 'verso'.
When manuscripts are written in columns, the columns are conventionally referred to alphabetically from left to right. In this case, we have two columns, so the left-hand column is referred to as 'column a' and the right-hand column as 'column b'.
So, in your example, '73ra' means:
- folio 73 (LXXIII),
- column a.
(This is towards the end of the book in this case!)