ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

453. Sylvester of Ferrara and Cajetan. -- FRANCISCUS SYLVESTER, born at Ferrara about 1474, became regent of the Dominican Studium at Bologna, afterwards general of the order, and died in 1528. His principal works are: In Lib. S. Thomae de Aquino contra Gentes Commentaria (about 1516); Comment. in Lib. Posteriorum Aristot. et S. Thomae; in Octo Lib. Physic. Aristot.; in 3 Lib. de Anima; and a treatise against Luther, pure in its diction and clear and logical in its style.

THOMAS DE VIO, commonly called CAJETAN, was born at Gaeta in 1468, joined the Dominicans and studied at the University of Padua, where he became acquainted with the humanist and Averroïst movements. From Padua he passed to the University of Pavia and thence to that of Rome. From 1507 he was high in the councils of the order, became cardinal in 1517, bishop of Gaeta in 1519, and then legate in Hungary. He devoted the closing years of his life to study and died in 1534. Besides many works on Theology and Scripture, he wrote a number of important philosophical treatises: Commentaries on the De Ente et Essentia of St. Thomas; on the Categories, the Posterior Analytics and the De Anima of Aristotle; tracts De Analogia Nominum, De Sensu Agente et Sensibilibus, on the De Substantia Orbis of John of Jandun, on Metaphysics and on various subjects of minor importance. But the Commentaria on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas form his great, capital work.

The commentaries of Sylvester and Cajetan on the two Summae recall the exegetical work of Capreolus. But whereas the latter rummages through the works of St. Thomas in order to put the master's teaching into the framework of the Lombard's Sentences, the former follow the order of the Angelic Doctor's text, writing orderly commentaries, the one on the Summa contra Gentes, the other on the Summa Theologica. Both of these great commentaries are remarkable for their clearness and penetration. Students of Thomism will always consult them with profit; and they have been deemed worthy of recent and careful re-editing. That of Cajetan is the better of the two. Besides an exposition of Thomistic teaching, it contains numerous polemics against Scotists and Averroïsts whom Cajetan had met at Padua. On the question of the immortality of the soul, so vehemently agitated by Pomponatius, Cajetan differs from St. Thomas. He holds the theory of Averroës to be that really propounded by Aristotle, and doubts, for his own part, about the power of reason in formulating its proofs of immortality. This explains how one of his brothers in religion, BARTHOLOMEW SPINA OF PISA, who was a violent adversary of his, involves him in a common condemnation with Pomponatius: Propugnaculum Aristotelis de Immortalitate Animae contra Thomam Cajetanum; Tutela Veritatis de Immortalitate Animae contra P. Pomponatium; Flagellum in Tres Libros Apologiae Ejusdem.

Cajetan exercised considerable influence on the philosophical training of Vittoria, the founder of the Salamanca school, thus establishing a bond of connection between Thomism and the Spanish scholasticism of the sixteenth century.

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