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Suárez, Francisco (1548–1617)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-C040-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Francisco Suárez was the main channel through which medieval philosophy flowed into the modern world. He was educated first in law and, after his entry into the Jesuits, in philosophy and theology. He wrote on all three subjects. His philosophical writing was principally in the areas of metaphysics, psychology and philosophy of law, but in both his philosophical and theological works he treated many related epistemological, cosmological and ethical issues. While his basic outlook is that of a very independent Thomist, his metaphysics follows along a line earlier drawn by Avicenna (980–1037) and Duns Scotus (1266–1308) to treat as its subject ‘being in so far as it is real being’. By the addition of the word ‘real’ to Aristotle’s formula, Suárez emphasized Aristotle’s division of being into categorial being and ‘being as true’, as well as Aristotle’s exclusion of the latter from the object of metaphysics. Divided into a general part dealing with the concept of being as such, its properties and causes, and a second part which considers particular beings (God and creatures) in addition to the categories of being, Suárez’s metaphysics ends with a notable treatment of mind-dependent beings, or ‘beings of reason’. These last encompass negations, privations and relations of reason, but Suárez’s treatment centres on those negations which are ‘impossible’ or self-contradictory. Inasmuch as such beings of reason cannot exist outside the mind, they are excluded from the object of metaphysics and relegated to the status of ‘being as true’. In philosophy of law he was a proponent of natural law and of a theory of government in which power comes from God through the people. He was important for the early development of modern international law and the doctrine of just war. While his brand of Thomism was opposed in his own time and after by some scholastics, especially Dominicans, he had great authority among his fellow Jesuits, as well as other Catholic and Protestant authors. Outside scholasticism, he has influenced a variety of modern thinkers.

Citing this article:
Doyle, John P.. Suárez, Francisco (1548–1617), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-C040-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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