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

457. The Jesuits in Spain. Suarez. -- The Jesuits established themselves in Spain about 1548, soon after the foundation of the order. St. Ignatius, who had learned to admire the doctrine of St. Thomas at Paris in 1533, chose the latter as Doctor of the Society. Following the wish of their founder, the general congregation of 1593 obliged the members of the Society to rally round the Thomistic teaching in theology. It left them free in regard to purely philosophical questions, though even here precautions were taken to prevent any from lightly abandoning Thomism.

The Jesuits did not succeed in establishing themselves at Salamanca, but they created other centres of study. Such was the College of Coymbra, where PETRUS FONSECA (1548-1597), surnamed the Aristotle of Coimbra, occupied the first chair. Under his direction the Jesuits carried to a successful issue an enormous commentary on the philosophy of Aristotle, known under the name of the Collegium Conimbricense, or Cursus Conimbricensium. It follows the thought rather than the letter of Aristotle. It is divided into Quaestiones, clearly worked out and grouped together. It also gives a critical résumé of the ancient commentaries. SEBASTIAO DO COUTO (fl. 1639) did the dialectic; MANUEL DE GOES (1560- 1593) the ethics and physics; MAGALLIANO, the De Anima; FONSECA (fl. 1597) the metaphysics and dialectic. The Tractatus de Anima Separata of Balthazer Alvarès is the last of the Coimbra commentaries.

The most famous of the whole line of Jesuit philosophers was FRANCISCUS SUAREZ (Doctor Eximius), born at Grenada in 1548, died at Lisbon in 1617. He won great and lasting renown by his teaching in the principal universities of the Spanish peninsula. His great philosophical work, Disputationes Metaphysicae, is undoubtedly one of the ablest, fullest and clearest repertories of scholastic metaphysics. It is no commentary, but an original treatise on Being, its categories and its causes, a work in which all who would understand scholastic metaphysics will find a masterly presentation of the problems to be solved and of the author's solutions.

Suarez is the most eclectic of the Spanish scholastics. His philosophy is a remarkable interpretation of the scholastic synthesis. He borrows much of his materials from Thomism, but abandons it on important questions for views of his own. While freely recognizing his great merit, truth forbids us to allow him the title, "faithful commentator of the Angelic Doctor," which posterity has been pleased to bestow on him. Let us, for instance, enumerate a few of the leading theses of his metaphysics and psychology. In opposition to St. Thomas, he rejects the real distinction between essence and existence:{1} whence he is led to admit that existence may be composed of partial elements, as essence is, and that the primal matter in natural substances has of itself and without the determining act of the form, an existence of its own, which God could preserve as such in a state of isolation from all form. Such theses, incompatible as they are with the doctrines of St. Thomas, remind us rather of the teachings of the Franciscan school. So, too, Suarez teaches that the constitutive elements of each substance -- and not its materia prima -- are the principles of its individuation; and -- with Scotus -- that the metaphysical arguments alone have a demonstrative force in proving the existence of God. In psychology, it will be sufficient to note, for instance, that in common with Scotism Suarez accords to the intellect the power of forming a direct concept of the individual.

Finally, Suarez holds a high rank as controversialist among the Jesuits who opposed the Protestant teachings on social questions. He wrote a treatise De Legibus{2} and discussed the question, made famous by the Protestants, concerning the immediate origin of civil authority. With Bellarmine he entered the arena to refute the so-called "Divine right" of kings, in support of which James I. of England had brought forward theological arguments. To the Protestant conception that kings held their power immediately from God, Suarez boldly opposed the thesis of the initial sovereignty of the people; from whose consent, therefore, all civil authority immediately sprang. So also, in opposition to Melanchthon's theory of governmental omnipotence, Suarez a fortiori admitted the right of the people to depose princes who would have shown themselves unworthy of the trust reposed in them.

In a secondary place, after Suarez, come VALLIUS (fl. 1622), A. RUBIUS (fl. 1615), FR. ALPHONSUS (1649), P. DE MENDOZA (fl. 1651), FR. GONZALEZ (fl. 1661).

{1} Existentia enim substantiae ita composita est, sicut essentia substantiae, et idea, sine ulla implicatione vel repugnantia, potest Deus sicut formam sine materia, ita et materiam sine forma conservare" (Disp. Met., D. 55, sect. 9, fl. 5). The theory of the mere logical distinction between essence and existence obliges Suarez to explain many theological doctrines in a manner quite different from St. Thomas. It is not our duty to follow him into this domain.

{2} D. de Soto and Molina also wrote treatises, De Jure et Justitia.

<< ======= >>