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Francisco Suárez

Francisco SuárezBorn: 5-Jan-1548
Birthplace: Granada, Spain
Died: 25-Sep-1617
Location of death: Lisbon, Portugal
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Occupation: Philosopher

Nationality: Spain
Executive summary: Spanish philosopher-theologian

Spanish philosopher and theologian, born at Granada on the 5th of January 1548, and educated at Salamanca. Influenced by the Jesuit John Ramirez he entered the Society of Jesus in 1564, and after teaching philosophy at Segovia, taught theology at Valladolid, at Alcala, at Salamanca, and at Rome successively. After taking his doctorate at Evora, he was named by Philip II principal professor of theology at Coimbra. Suárez may be considered almost the last eminent representative of scholasticism. In philosophical doctrine be adhered to a moderate Thomism. On the question of universals he endeavored to steer a middle course between the pantheistically inclined realism of John Duns Scotus and the extreme nominalism of William of Ockham. The only veritable and real unity in the world of existences is the individual; to assert that the universal exists separately ex parte rei would be to reduce individuals to mere accidents of one indivisible form. Suárez maintains that, though the humanity of Socrates does not differ from that of Plato, yet they do not constitute realiter one and the same humanity; there are as many "formal unities" (in this case, humanities) as there are individuals, and these individuals do not constitute a factual, but only an essential or ideal unity ("ita ut plura individua, quae dicuntur esse ejusdem naturae, non sint unum quid vera entitate quae sit in rebus, sed solum fundamentaliter vel per intellectum"). The formal unity, however, is not an arbitrary creation of the mind, but exists "in natura rei ante omnem operationem intellectus." In theology, Suárez attached himself to the doctrine of Luis Molina, the celebrated Jesuit professor of Evora. Molina tried to reconcile the doctrine of predestination with the freedom of the human will by saying that the predestination is consequent upon God's foreknowledge of the free determination of man's will, which is therefore in no way affected by the fact of such predestination. Suárez endeavored to reconcile this view with the more orthodox doctrines of the efficacy of grace and special election, maintaining that, though all share in an absolutely sufficient grace, there is granted to the elect a grace which is so adapted to their peculiar dispositions and circumstances that they infallibly, though at the same time quite freely, yield themselves to its influence. This mediatizing system was known by the name of "congruism." Suárez is probably more important, however, as a philosophical jurist than as a theologian or metaphysician. In his extensive work Tractatus de legibus ac deo legislatore (reprinted, London, 1679) he is to some extent the precursor of Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf. Though his method is throughout scholastic, he covers the same ground, and Grotius speaks of him in terms of high respect. The fundamental position of the work is that all legislative as well as all paternal power is derived from God, and that the authority of every law resolves itself into His. Suárez refutes the patriarchal theory of government and the divine right of kings founded upon it -- doctrines popular at that time in England and to some extent on the Continent. Power by its very nature belongs to no one man but to a multitude of men; and the reason is obvious, since all men are born equal. It has been pointed out that this accords well with the Jesuit policy of depreciating the royal while exalting the papal prerogative. But Suárez is much more moderate on this point than a writer like Mariana, approximating to the modern view of the rights of ruler and ruled. In 1613, at the instigation of Pope Paul V, Suárez wrote a treatise dedicated to the Christian princes of Europe, entitled Defensio catholicae fidei contra anglicanae sectae errores. This was directed against the oath of allegiance which King James I exacted from his subjects. James caused it to be burned by the common hangman, and forbade its perusal under the severest penalties, complaining bitterly at the same time to Philip III that he should harbor in his dominions a declared enemy of the throne and majesty of kings. Suárez lived a very humble and simple life. He died after a few days illness on the 25th of September 1617 at Lisbon. The collected works of Suárez have been printed at Mainz and Lyons (1630), at Venice (1740-51), at Besanon (1856-62) and in the collection of the Abbé Migne.

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