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Francis of Marchia's Virtus derelicta and the Context of Its Development

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This article offers the first critical edition of the most important version of Francis of Marchia's famous question 1 of his commentary on Book IV of the Sentences, in which the Franciscan theologian puts forth his virtus derelicta theory of projectile motion. The introduction attempts to place Marchia's theory in its proper context. The theory might seem to us an obvious improvement on Aristotle, but rather than an immediate and complete break with tradition that all scholastics quickly adopted, Marchia's virtus derelicta was more a stage in a gradual process that had begun many decades before and did not find universal acceptance among his first successors. Moreover, Marchia himself did not take the theory to what might seem the obvious conclusion that Jean Buridan would draw, because Marchia employed the virtus derelicta to explain more phenomena than just projectile motion.


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