“Suárez and Modern Philosophy”
Most of the problems discussed in philosophical periodicals have at least one advantage: they exist. The problem I am about to discuss is badly in need of definition, because we do not even know whether or not it is a problem. Is there such a thing as "modern philosophy," and, above all, is there a Counter-Reformation philosophy? When I consider, I find that everything is shaky and problematic. How in this situation is one to face calmly so thorny a subject?
If I were to follow my inclination, I should try to analyze the very nature of the problem. It is an indisputable characteristic of philosophers that they never arrive at any solutions, because they rarely finish stating clearly the problems they have to solve. Perhaps this explains the irritating fact that when they do attempt to find a solution, it turns, by contrast and extreme reaction, into the most arbitrary and unsupported speculation. I shall, however, forsake my particular leanings as a philosopher, and renounce endless discussion and definition of concepts. I assume that most readers today customarily think that science begins with facts, and history with events, and would perhaps consider as suspicious any attempt to discover whether these facts or events, once proved by documents or reliable testimony, exist or not.
Therefore, let us assume that there is such a thing as "modern philosophy." If we cannot assert this philosophically, we can at least assert it historically. In fact, there are some systems, like those of Descartes, Spinoza, Dennis, Leibniz, Locke or Hume, to mention those most outstanding or most often quoted, which we label as modern, not only in the sense that they occur in so-called modern times. but also in the sense that they express the modern "spirit," as something different from the medieval and even from the "intermediate" period of the Renaissance. We are not concerned with whether these philosophers did or did not display extreme originality in their thought, irreducible to that of any other period. Aside from the fact that the expression "original thought" is highly ambiguous, it is sufficient for us to assume that these philosophers possessed a certain consciousness that their thought was "different." This can be said especially of Descartes. According to Ortega y Gasset, Decartes not only started the symphony of modern philosophy, but also carefully concealed his sources in order to show that such an overture was entirely unexpected. In fact, he did so in a way almost unbelievable for us. All the painful efforts to trace the path which Descartes' philosophy took will ultimately fail, simply because he refused to acknowledge sources as such. We do not mean that such sources did not really exist, and we are very likely to become irritated with him as was Leibniz when he insisted that Descartes was not psychologically faithful to the inescapable lex continuitatis of all history and even of all existence. But in spite of the difficulty which the problem of the existence of a "modern spirit" raises for us, who have been educated in a certain unconscious nominalism, we have in Descartes' claims one of those cases where this spirit is, by its very petulance, least doubtful. It does not seem altogether wrong to say that there is such a thing as a modern age with its corresponding philosophy, but, as we shall soon see, it is something much more complex than Cartesianism.
If the problem just presented does not seem to raise too many difficulties, the same is not true so far as a Counter-Reformation philosophy is concerned. At first glance, the Counter-Reformation does not appear to be primarily an affair of philosophy. If we try to understand its human basis, it seems primarily a matter of faith and corresponding theological formulas. It is true that at that time faith and philosophy could not be easily distinguished. To mention Descartes again, we are still not too sure whether he was trying to give a philosophical foundation for the new science of natureas almost every historian of philosophy has declaredor whether, as Léon Blanchet maintains, he was trying to do what the "official philosophy" of the Catholic Church had been doing for several centuries: to establish a gentleman's agreement between revelation and wisdom, or, more exactly, between theology and philosophy. Perhaps we could solve this problem by recognizing, as did Cassirer, that Descartes as a theoretical thinker, was interested exclusively in the philosophical foundation of "modern science," and as a practical man was anxious to contribute to the pax fidei which was tormenting the best minds of the period. Perhaps we could even follow Henri Gouhier's contention and say that Descartes has to be clearly distinguished from "Cartesianism."
At any rate, if faith was by no means alien to Descartes' life and thought, it seems to have been the ultimate nucleus of the life and work of the men who centered around the movement of Reformation and Counter-Reformation. This is, obviously, especially true so far as Spaniards are concerned. González de Mendoza, in his Memoirs of the Council of Trent, seems, of course, quite anxious to describe the issues involved in such questions as whether communion must be administered utraque specie or not. He mentions on several occasions the acute problem involved in French "autonomism." But he is at ease only when he comes to the problem of the formulation of a catechism. This is, indeed, a most illuminating paragraph. When theologians were assigned the task of formulating the issues of the Catechism, he says, the Credo was given to the Spaniards, because "they are people to whom faith may be commended." This is, I think, one of the most revealing examples of what was, at least for the Spaniards, the focal point of the question. I do not deny, of course, the existence or even the importance of other factors. But without this, nothing in the first period of the Counter-Reformation would be understandable.
The Catholic church has always maintained that the Counter-Reformation did not emerge as a consequence of Protestantism, but rather began much earlier. If this be so, the Council of Trent and the theological and philosophical works written after the middle of the sixteenth century would be simply the last phase of a long Reformation period, which in principle had never ceased, because the Church had been continually reforming itself according to the sage maxim of vetera novis augere, not in a mechanical but rather in a harmonic and organic way. In this case, the Reformation itself might be considered a caricature of the Counter-Reformation, which would therefore be a true or authentic Reformation. Now, if the Counter-Reformation is not a reaction, it was made possible because something "external" had released the enormous amount of moral and intellectual energy concentrated in the oecumenical community for several centuries. And this would explain why, notwithstanding many other factors, faith was an outstanding element which permeated its every act and every movement. In this case, we would have to deny that there is a Counter-Reformation philosophy, unless; by the term we agreed to understand only the philosophical works written in that period by philosophers who continued to belong to Catholic orthodoxy.
Now, if we analyze the problem more closely and try to escape from rigid historical schemes, we will have to recognize one fact, which is perhaps the most revealing of all from the philosophical point of view, namely, that the "modern" philosophers in the present traditional sense of the word, and the philosophers who were outstanding in the philosophical movement of the Counter-Reformation, were almost contemporaries. This should make us realize that oppositions ought not to be stressed artificially. To live in the same epoch is not an external event for the people involved. Moreover, for those living in the modern period, history is one of the most influential factors. Even if we do not consider history as the ultimate horizon for all the thoughts or actions of men, it is an indisputable fact that nothing can be understood outside the frame of history. This is still more important when we consider that although neither the original Reformers nor the Counter-Reformers seemed, at least in the beginning, to care too much for philosophy, the picture quickly changed, and a time came when, in the last decade of the sixteenth century, both ProtestantsLutheran or Calvinistand Catholicsscholastics or modern thinkerswere highly interested in philosophical thinking.
The interest in philosophy, and in a philosophy capable of affording a complete explanation of the world and of the human person in rational terms, is common alike to modern philosophy, to Protestants since Melanchthon, and to the so-called Counter-Reformation philosophers. And, as Vleerschauwer has clearly demonstrated in a recent article, Spanish Neoscholasticism was able to gain such a tremendous influence upon the philosophical teachings in the Dutch, German and Bohemian universities during the seventeenth century precisely because both in Spain and in Germany a parallel movement toward the establishment of an autonomous metaphysics had occurred (an autonomous metaphysics which could be, of course, a preparation for theology, but which was not subordinated to theology in the traditional sense of ancilla theologiae).
As we shall see, later, the outstanding importance of Suárez was really due to the fact that he was the first to erect a systematic body of consistent metaphysics at a time when people seemed to want something more than a series of Aristotelian commentaries, or than a rhetorical philosophy like Peter Ramus's, or even than a vague sceptical philosophy. From this point of view, we shall be able to draw a conclusion which might seem at first rather surprising and even shocking: the so-called philosophers of the Counter-Reformation, and especially those who worked most actively in this fieldthe Jesuit philosophersare to a certain extent "modern" philosophers. This is not because they were influenced by modern or pre-modern philosophy, or because, as is true in cases like those of Rodrigo de Arriaga or Caramuel de Lobkowitz (who, according to Annibale Pastore, made the first formal discovery of the so-called quantification of the predicate), they were highly interested in modern science, but because they were trying to give an answer to the same problems stated by the modern philosophers.
Without recognizing this, we could hardly understand the following two facts. First, some of the most outstanding modern philosopherslike Descartes or Leibnizreally took into consideration, implicitly or explicitly, the so-called Scholasticism of the Baroque period, and in particular the Scholasticism of the Spanish Jesuits. Second, these same Spanish Jesuits, in their own traditional vocabulary, were advancing problems which, translated into more familiar terms, become surprisingly "modern." Therefore, our first contention, which will not be demonstrated but simply taken as an assumption, is the following: the indisputable influence exerted by Spanish Scholasticism on modern thought is due to the fact that this Scholasticism was something that belonged to the "modern spirit." If it does not always seem so, it is because historians, even historians of philosophy, have put too much emphasis on the externals of terminology, and have abandoned the more important understanding of the meanings of the terms used.
The rôle played by Scholasticism in modern philosophy is nowadays a question of fact. This has been recognized and studied by various scholars. To mention only the great philosophers of the seventeenth century, Gilson insists, perhaps too much, upon Descartes' debt to Scholasticism. The same position has been held by A. Koyré and by Joseph von Hertling. J. Freudenthal applied much effort to the study of the relations between Spinoza and Scholasticism, and his work has been continued by H. A. Wolfson. Küppers studied the relation between the Scholastics and Locke. Gassendi's relations with Scholasticism were studied by Pendzig. The relations between Leibniz and Scholasticism have always been quite obvious; the great philosopher himself recognized his debt, not only when he stated quite emphatically that there is much gold in straw, but also, and in particular, when he quoted so extensively from Scholastic literature in his first De principio individuationis and in his succeeding works. Scholars like R. von Nostiz-Rieneck, J. Jasper, von Rintelen, and many others, including the great students of Leibniz, like Dietrich Mahnke and Paul Schrecker, know that his relation is more than a matter of courtesy. Now, except for Paul Schrecker and a few others, especially those who have studied the development of the philosophical teachings in Central Europe during the seventeenth century, most of the above mentioned scholars paid too must attention to the classical Scholasticism of the Middle Ages and too little to those Scholastics with whom modern philosophers were actually concerned. This Scholasticism is precisely the one which will be our concern, first in the form of a brief sketch, and then in the form of a brief analysis of one particular problem.
Let us begin with the brief sketch, which is historical and apparently only a collection of facts. However, historical facts sometimes possess a power of their own which prevents us from interpreting them. The first of these facts is, so to speak, of a volcanic nature: only a few years after the flames of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation had begun to spread all over Europe, metaphysical analysis, which seemed to have been abandoned or translated into a new terminology, re-emerged and caused almost every thinker to restate his problems in terms of metaphysics. This word is not altogether out of place here, because the tremendous literary output which flooded Europe during more then fifty years was centered around metaphysical problems, and not simply around questions of the catechism involving theological propositions. This is revealing, and confirms our previous contention. If the Counter-Reformation, like the Reformation, was primarily an affair of faith, this faith was only the body which nourished the philosophical thought of the period. In fact, men did not seem to be satisfied with faith aloneor lack of faithbut needed either to demonstrate it or to refute it by means of rational argument. It is true that the same need had been felt during the Middle Ages, with the exception of some homines religiosi, like Saint Peter Damiana. But reason has now acquired a different character: it is not only, as it was for Saint Thomas Aquinas, a system of exposition, but rather a method of demonstration. For Thomas Aquinas, if we believe such exacting scholars as Gilson or Vignaux, philosophical questions appeared in the frame of a system of credibilia; they were inescapable, but never primary. For the theologians of modern times, since the beginning of the seventeenth century, however, reason was not simply a method of making explicit what was already implicit. If you allow me to state a paradox, I should say that here we have reason as a frame within which theological questions obtain their proper meaning. In any event, the revival of faith did in fact give way to a revival of theological reasoning, which almost immediately turned into metaphysics.
Questions of method, as is evident from the early polemic over Bellarmine's thesis, did indeed soon prevail. This was, as we have suggested, common to almost every thinker, and in one sense we could speak, as Vleershauwer has, of a parallelism between the philosophical activities of the Counter-Reformers and the philosophical activities of the Reformers, at lease since the time of Melanchthon. To mention only Spanish theologians and philosophers, we could say that even those who were such staunch defenders of tradition, like the Dominicans Francisco de Vitoria, Melchor Cano, Domingo de Soto, Fray Bartolomé de Medina, Domingo Báñez, Fray Tomás de Mercado, etc., hardly escaped this inexorable condition of the epoch. Nor were the many theologians belonging to other orders, like Fray Diego de Zúñiga, an Augustinian, or Fray Luis de Carvajal or Fray Alonso de Castro, Franciscans, or Fray Pedro de Oña and Fray Francisco Zumel, Mercedarians, exempt from this movement. But when we turn to the works of the Spanish Jesuit theologians and philosophers, we arrive at a point where the modernity of their philosophical thinking is almost without question. This will seem somewhat paradoxical to those accustomed to consider the history of philosophy as contained within certain historical categories, or rather prejudices, forged during the eighteenth century. I am not too sure as to what the Jesuits represent nowadays, from the philosophical point of view. But I believe I know what they represented as philosophers and theologians in the intellectual polemics of that epoch. Their mistakeif there are mistakes in historyis to have put new wine into old bottles. In times of crisis, it is perhaps much better, if you want to triumph historically, to be careful of the bottles and not to worry too much about the wine itself.
The fact is that the philosophers and theologians to whom we shall refermen like Pedro de Fonseca, Francisco de Toledo, Luis de Molina, Benito Pereiro, Gregorio de Valencia, Francisco Suárez, Gabriel Vázquez, Rodrigo de Arriaga and many otherscan be understood adequately only when we see them as belonging to modern times rather then to the past. Only under these circumstances will their relationship, and in many cases their influence on such men as Descartes, Spinoza or Leibniz, become clear. This is the reason why it is necessary to refer to two points in the development of our subject. The first is the spirit of the Scholasticism of the Baroque period. The second is the fact that this Scholasticism was not an isolated phenomenon, which tried, but quite unsuccessfully, to revitalize a dead past. Scholasticism was, undoubtedly, one way of answering the fundamental problems of modern times. Confronted with these times, it adopted an attitude similar to that adopted by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. The theologians and philosophers of the Counter-Reformation period, as Windelband states, tried to repeat for the modern epoch the same difficult service that Thomas Aquinas had performed for the Middle Ages. In the same sense in which Thomas Aquinas had absorbed into a great system the Arabic-Aristotelian philosophy, the Spanish theologians and philosophers, and Suárez in particular, confronted the new problems with an energetic absorption of all the philosophical difficulties of the past. But this was done in a modern way; whatever their theological benefits, they built a metaphysics which could become, and did in fact become, epistemologically autonomous. On the other hand, the effort to absorb the past and to reconcile opposite contentions was typical of Spanish humanism, and this is the reason why we have to link the so-called Barockscholastik with humanism, unless we want to reduce humanism to the more or less fortunate imitation of Ciceronian rhetoric. In any event, the only thing we cannot assert, unless we want to deceive ourselves, is that the Scholasticism of the Baroque period, especially Spanish Scholasticism during and after Trent, and more especially the Jesuit Scholasticism, and above all Suárez' philosophic-theological system, was something that lacked vitality. The fact that it failed to occupy the foreground of modern philosophy does not demonstrate that it was not "modern." And the word "failure" also does not adequately express the historical reality of the phenomenon. To apply an expression which Thomas Mann has used, albeit for another purpose, we can say that it was not so much a matter of "still," as of "again."
But let us return to the facts. The work of Suárez, which will be our concern in the later part of this paper, is the crowning point of the movement. For a history of the period to be adequately circumstantial, it would have to describe carefully the specific character of each successive generation. These began to be active when the work of the great Spanish humanistsmen like Vives or Fox Morcilloproved incapable of attaining the long-yearned-for pax fidei, perhaps because of the deplorable fact that peace could not and cannot be attained by mere gentility and intellectual eclecticism. The Spanish érasmisants disappeared soon from the picture. But, as Marcel Bataillon has demonstrated, this did not happen without their transmitting to their enemies some of the living forces which "Erasmism" had released.
The first generation of the great Spanish theologians is represented mainly by Francisco de Victoria (1473/86-1546). The second includes such men as Domingo de Soto (1494-1560), Alonso de Castro (1495-1558), Pedro de Oña (d. 1626) and Melchor Cano (1509-1560); the third, Pedro Fonseca (1526-1599), Domingo Báñez (1528-1604), Francisco Toledo (1533-1596), Benito Pereiro (1535-1610), Diego de Zúñiga (1536-1600), Luis de Molina (1535-1600), Francisco Zumel (1540-1607); the fourth, Francisco Suárez (1548-1617), Gabriel Vázquez (1549-1604), and Gregorio de Valencia (1549-1603); the fifth, Pedro Hurtado de Mendoza (1578-1651), Rodrigo de Arriaga (1592-1667), Francisco Oviedo (1602-1651) and Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz (1606-1682). This list coincides roughly with the three groups Eschenweiler tried to distinguish in his studies on Spanish Barockscholastik, although I suspect that my calculation is historically more faithful, not only because I include theologians and philosophers of all "confessions"staunch Thomists as well as Scotistsbut also because a generation is more than a group of people separated by a wide and very loose chronological distance: a generation is, according to Ortega y Gasset, a group of men who, whatever their opinions may be, coincide in living in the same period of "formation," "development" or "maturity."
Now, it is quite obvious that each of these generations is distinguished from the others by what we could call a common intellectual "atmosphere," or, to be more precise, by a definite way of stating problemsincluding the selection of those problems which will be posedand also of facing the past. Thus, while Victoria, Báñez or Molina were still in the stage of looking for the problems to be posed, Suárez had already stated the real problem: it was, in fact, no longer the problem of how man could gagner le ciel, to use Descartes' well-known expression, or the extent to which man was endowed with freedom, or the basis of concord, but rather the quest for an ontological principle from which everything else could be derived. When approaching the crucial moment of historical and philosophical crisis, man had to decide what "Being" ultimately was, because this seemed a prerequisite to any method of finding out what could be known.
This was the work of Suárez. And this is the reason why Suárez had to be taken into account seriously by both the greater and the less significant philosophers of the seventeenth century. It makes no difference whether the "solutions" were different or not, or even that they were sometimes opposed. I think that in philosophy community in formulating problems is far more important than agreement on solutions. When Descartes rejected Scholasticism, he attacked the weakness of its basis, but not the necessity for a basis. Like Thomas Aquinas, he also was looking for quod primo cadit sub apprehensione. His decision that the primary object of "apprehension" is the fact of thinking rather than the Being itself is of little importance. Had he been more careful in his analysis of what the foundations of Being are, perhaps he would have realized that Suárez was more akin to his philosophy than he seemed on the surface. I do not claim that Suárez is an "idealist philosopher," a predecessor of Descartes (Descartes himself was not an "idealist philosopher"). I mean simply that Descartes, whatever his intentions, was following in the same historical movement as Suárez himself. Both, in my opinion, were "modern philosophers," and the fact that they were "modern" is more relevant than the fact that one was a Scholastic and the other a philosopher who feigned to be an enemy of philosophical tradition.
The Metaphysicæ Disputationes of Suárez permeated the philosophical thinking, and particularly the philosophical teaching, of later generations of European philosophers. Of course, it was not only the work of Suárez which caused this to happen. Soon after the turn of the seventeenth century, Jesuit teachers and philosophers spread throughout Europe. Places like Ingolstadt, Vienna, Würzburg, Mainz, Trier (Treveris), Prague, Cologne, Freiburg i.B., and others could be considered the markers of this route. This is especially true of the men who belong to the sixth generation: Pedro Hurtado de Mendoza, the author of a disputatio de universa philosophia (Lyons, 1617), Francisco de Oviedo, author of a Cursus philosophicum (Lyons, 1640), and above all Rodrigo de Arriaga, author of a Cursus philosophicum (Antwerp, 1632) and of a disputatio theologica (prefaced in 1643 and published in Antwerp in 1651). Rodrigo de Arriaga was a very influential teacher and writer during the years he taught at the University of Prague. And in a certain way his Cursus represents the link which connects Suarezian philosophy with the Leibniz-Wolff schoolthrough several intermediate linksa school very influential in Germany for many years, to which even Kant paid tribute in the person of his teacher Martin Knutzen.
Pure Thomism seemed to lack the power to oppose such a flood. Neither the Collegium Complutense philosophicum discalceatorum fratrum Ord. B.M. de monte Carmeli (4 vols.,1624ff.), nor the important Cursus philosophicum of John of Saint Thomas (Madrid, 1648), could be compared to the influence of Suárez and the Jesuit philosophers. And there is one important reason for this: none of these worksnot even those of John of Saint Thomasreached the stage of a complete and well-rounded metaphysical system. Therefore, the extension of Suarezian metaphysics was really not only the propagation of the Disputationes, but also of Fonseca's Instituiones dialecticae and, of course, of the Commentarii collegii Conimbricensis. But if we consider Suárez as the focal point of the movement, as he in fact was, we can say that Suarezian metaphysics remained long firmly rooted in the soil of European philosophical teaching. I do not mean that Suárez, and he alone, can explain the history of early modern philosophy. I simply maintain that this philosophyand in particular the intellectual atmosphere from which it emergedwould have remained incomprehensible, or, at least, incomplete, without the metaphysical work of the Spanish philosopher. In my opinion, this is particularly true so far as philosophical teaching is concerned. We are grateful to Franz Werner, Emil Weber, P. Althaus, Otto Ritschl, Peter Peterson, Karl Eschweiler, E. Lewalter, Max Wundt, Hermann J. de Vleerschauwer, as well as to Martin Grabmann, Louis Mahieu, H. Tiemann, B. Jansen, Eberhard Conze, J. Otto Fleckstein, Ferdinand L. F. Sassen, and J. Iriarte, for having reminded us of what the historians of philosophy in the time of Jakob Brucker knew only too well, that the history of philosophy during the seventeenth and even the eighteenth centuries is not simply the intellectual biography of several great philosophers.
But at this point, we find that the facts have become too numerous to continue with the historical order. Since humanism, Ramism, or philosophical scepticism were inadequate for the teaching purposes of the Central European Protestants, they had to rely upon the work already accomplished by the Spanish and Portuguese philosophers, especially upon the Corpus which exercised the widest influence: Fonseca's Commentatorium in libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis Stagiritæ (published from 1577 to 1612), the Commentarii collegii Conimbricensis (published from 1591 to 1607), Toledo's philosophical Course (published from 1560 to 1575) and, of course, Suárez's Disputationes (published in Salamanca in 1597, although the most important edition for our purpose is the one which appeared in Mainz in 1600 and which has been frequently reprinted). It is true that some of the Central European philosophersDutch, German and Bohemiantook, like Cornelius Martini, a similar philosophical stand before becoming acquainted with the works of the Spanish philosophers. But Martini himself soon benefited from their writing and modified his teaching accordingly in a more systematic way, as did his disciples Arnisaeus (in Helmstadt), Jacobus Martini (in Wittenberg) and Johann Gerhard (in Jena). With the exception of the University of Altdorf, almost all the universities of Central Europe henceforth accepted the Spanish-Portuguese tradition as the basis for metaphysical teaching and thought.
Since Freudenthal's study of Spinoza and his relations to Scholasticism, it has been customary to quote a passage from Franco Burgerdijk, professor in Leyden from 1620 to 1635, who wrote in his Institutionum metaphysicorum libri duo (a kind of Suarezian Compendium published posthumously in 1640): "In the hands of youth you find mainly the Scholastics: Toletus, Pereira, Suárez and the Conimbricenses," so that they can learn thereby the "elements of philosophy." Burgerdijk was not, of course, an isolated philosopher: he was the teacher of Andreas Heerebord (d. 1659), also professor in Leyden, and teacher of many academic philosophers of the seventeenth century in the Netherlands. This has made it possible to maintain that the "official philosophy" in the Netherlands was the philosophical tradition from Fonseca to Suárez, which, incidentally, did not exclude the acceptance of the so-called "modern" philosophers.
The well-known struggle between Neoscholasticism, Neoaristotelianism, and modern philosophy was probably not one of those conflicts which have a single issue (I do not believe that such struggles are possible.) if we consider a highly significant passage contained in the Acts of the University of Leyden. It reads that "amici nobis sunt Socrates, Plato, Aristoteles, Conimbricenses, Suarezius, Ramus, Cartesius, sed magis amica veritas." Compromisesmade possible by the ultimate common ground of the problems dealt withwere frequent in that epoch. This shows that the influence of Suárez and of his tradition cannot be simply reduced, as is so frequently contended, to the fact that the Disputationes was a "good text" for the study of metaphysics. As a matter of fact, it was not a "text" because its length made it difficult for students to use it as such; Fonseca or Toledo were more suitable for teaching and learning purposes. It was a well-rounded system which had to be accepted, rejected, or criticized, but could hardly be set aside as irrelevant.
Many names of those influential during the seventeenth century who are now almost forgottensometimes, I feel, rather deliberately forgottengive further support to our contentions. For example: Jacobus Martini (professor in Wittenberg till 1649) was influenced by Suárez in his Theoremata Metaphysicorum, published in 1604, only four years after Suárez' Disputationes came out in Mainz in 1600. Johann Hermann Alsted (professor in Herborn, d. 1638) was also strongly inclined to the philosophical teachings of Suárez in his Metaphisica tribus libris tracata (1613) as he was already in his Metaphysica brevissima delineatio (1611). The same is true of Clemens Timpler in his Metaphysicae Systema methodicum (1604), and with Christoph Scheibler, the so-called "Protestant Suárez," in his Opus metaphysicum (1617). We could mention other philosophers, such as Johann Joachim Zentrav, Ernst Sommer, Valentin Veltheim, or even the curious case of Jacob Revius, who published, besides a Suarezian Compendium, a Suarez repurgatus, in 1649. Many others fell into the same group.
There is one among them, however, a professor in Jena named Daniel Stahl, who is particularly interesting, because we now can read, in the edition of Leibniz still being published by the Prussian Academy, some interesting notes which Leibniz wrote on a Handexemplar of Stahl's Compendium metaphysicum (the Notae ad Danielem Stahlium). This is the same Stahl who formed a "school" to which Jacob Thomasiuswe have also the Notae ad Jacobum Thomasiumand Adam Scherzer, teachers of Leibniz, belonged. And the Leibnizian Disputatio rnetaphysica de principio individui (published in Leipzig in 1663) was historically just one example of the many theses written at the time under the Denkstil forged by the Spanish Scholastics.
We should also make an effort to disentangle the complex historical process which leads straight from the first blossoming of the Spanish Barockscholastik to the threshold of our own times. Though it was not a flood, it was undoubtedly a powerful river which separated into a great number of rivulets and flowed by many a philosophic eminence. This, unfortunately, is not yet possible, because of the lack of adequate historical information. Scholars will have to push their researches forward into this field if the history of philosophy is to fulfill its responsibilities. Among other requirements, the proposed task would entail a careful historical analysis of the problems posed by the philosophical terminology, so essential and fundamental for an exact comprehension of the epoch. Let us simply emphasize that the facts we have mentioned are intended only as the bare outline for a highly complicated historical picture.
As for other countries, although the connections do not seem to be so well established as in the case of Central Europe, we ought to mention the momentous struggle which took place during the last decades of the seventeenth century between Jesuitism and Cartesianism, a struggle which could not have developed had one of the two contestants been merely a simple echo of the past, and the other the unique expression of the present. There is no struggle when the enemy brings no vital issues to the fight. The struggle conceals the close interpenetration of the two philosophies. Aside from the controversial case of Descartes, if Malebranche wrote a series of reflections on the problem of the premotio physica, it was not just because he liked to amuse himself with old and outgrown questions. And, of course, most of the issues of the so-called occasionalistsphilosophers like Arnould Geulinex, Louis de la Forge, Johannes Clauberg, Géraud de Cordemoyreleased by the Cartesian Mind-Body problem, were not foreign to the Spanish revival of Scholasticism. And if in the eighteenth century we find some French Jesuits who adhered to Cartesianism, like Father André or above all Father Buffieran indispensable link with the philosophy of "common sense," which, as Franz Brentano clearly understood, we cannot separate from the philosophical questions involved in Kant's treatment of the so-called Humean scepticismit was not because they had been "converted" to modern philosophy, but because they did not feel they had to cross an unfathomable abyss.
Perhaps the reader will think that most of these names are not very important. Of course they are not, if we insist on reducing the history of philosophy to a handful of "important" philosophers. Now, this view of the history of philosophy, useful as it may seem for class-room purposes, is altogether useless when we really attempt to understand philosophical thinking and its continuity. Nicolai Hartmann has written that the epigons are necessary in the history of philosophy. I should say more: that epigons are mere epigons only when we adopt a view of history determined by the requirements of instruction. When this is not the case, epigons become an indispensable part of the landscape, if not just what makes the landscape really a landscape. If the history of philosophy ever ceases to be a procession of huge shadowy figures and becomes a living march on the dynamic stage of history, we shall no longer be worried by such problems. The meaning of the expression " Suárez and modern philosophy" will no longer depend on the "importance" or " insignificance " some particular philosopher possesses in a book of reading for philosophical instruction. But its meaning is not entirely exhausted by the mere mention of those names or by pointing out the fact that a complete history of the period could give us a more vivid and dynamic spectacle. The expression which serves as title to our paper points rather to the connection the Spanish Scholastics from 1550 to 1650 had with what we have called the "spirit of modern philosophy." This would require, I judge, a whole book, which could not be written as yet because of the lack of historical information.
I shall simply point to one aspect of the problem which seems to me particularly illuminating. It is the much-argued but still unclarifed question of the relation between Suárez and Leibniz. It is an advantage to select just one problem in making a quick comparison between two major philosophies. Now, the selection is not easy, because there are several questions which seem to possess the same relative importance. For instance, we could discuss the Leibnizian doctrine of the puissance obédientielle as set forth in his Théodicée, in order to see how much or how little this doctrine can or cannot be linked with the Suarezian theory of the potentia oebedientialis activa as analyzed in his Disputatio XX. This would give us a most valuable clue to one of the aspects of seventeenth-century philosophy which is strikingly modern and even "contemporary," the dynamic and even dynamicist character of both Suarezian and Leibnizian metaphysics. Or we could analyze the solution given by Suárez, in his Disputatio XIII, to the problem of how form and matter are united in a particular body, and discuss accordingly the notion of a vinculum substantiale, which also operates, though in a different manner, in Leibniz's philosophy. We could also discuss another important issue: the classical theme of the principium individuationis, as analyzed in the famous Disputatio V and in many passages of Leibniz's philosophical treatises. It is well known that the singular individuation adopted by Suárez, and the way of knowing how an entity is individuated, are not far removed from the famous Leibnizian principe des indiscernibles. But we shall actually select a problem which is, I think, not only important but also crucial. It is a crucial question in modern philosophy and perhaps in all philosophy, although it has not always been discussed in the same "traditional" terminology. The fact that contemporary philosophers engaged in this problem use a new and more pretentious set of terms does not imply that the question they are discussing is irrelevant to ours. It is the well-known problem of the kind of distinction to be admitted among created beings, and especially in man, between essence and existence.
This is, needless to say, an old problem. Not to mention the analysis devoted to it in Greek philosophy, especially in post-Aristotelian thought, let us remember that Thomas Aquinas answered the question in a clear and harmonious way: there is, he maintained, a real distinction, a distinctio realis, between essence and existence in created beings. Some authors, opposed to the "disastrous" consequences of Avicenna's "radical distinction," believe this is not an important point in Thomas's philosophy. But I doubt whether we could understand many of his philosophical ideasand in particular his ways of thinkingwithout first assuming, as it were, a moderate distinctio realis. Now, laying aside the Scotist modal distinction, it is true that the contention that no real distinction exists in created beings was not invented by Suárez himself. Grabmann mentions some philosophers of the Thomist school who, in their fight against Scotism, defended a different kind of distinction. Among these, he included not only John von Sterngassen and Hervaeus Natalis, but also Jacob of Viterbo, Henry of Ghent, Gottfried of Fontaines and Domingo de Soto. (Suárez himself quotes Fonseca as one of his predecessors.)
But a philosophical formula does not always have the same meaning. The same thing seems to have happened with our problem as, according to Dilthey, happened with medieval nominalism. The nominalism of the eleventh century, the nominalism of Roscellin of Compiègne, he says, is not to be compared with the nominalism of the fourteenth century, the nominalism of Ockham. The former was purely formal; the latter filled the gap which nominalism introduced between names and things by means of a powerful entity, will. It is hardly worthwhile, therefore, to keep on asserting that some philosophers before Suárez maintained the opinion universally attributed to the Spanish philosopher; in fact, Suárez was the first thinker to understand that a non-real distinction between essence and existence implies a complete reversal of metaphysical issues. Otherwise, he would not have sacrificed so much to this contention. Suárez' position, therefore, is significant, because it is not a simple corroboration of the specific modern tendency to substitute formal for real distinctions whenever it can be done without greatly injuring metaphysical doctrines. It is rather the expression, concealed in the subtleties of a classical vocabulary, of a conception of Being according to which, when Being is completely generalwhen Being is, so to speak, "Being at large"it can be attributedwith an analogy of intrinsic attributionboth to God and to created beings. This makes it possible to turn metaphysics into ontology, and, accordingly, to establish the basis of a mathesis universalisunfortunately, not grounded in relations and mathematical reason, but still based on substantial assumptionswhich was almost completely ignored by medieval philosophers.
But Suárez' theory of a distinctio rationis, instead of the Thomistic distinctio realis or the Scotist distinctio modalis, has a still greater scope. It means, in fact, that created beings, and among them man, exist by virtue of an intrinsic principle and not of an external quality. The Disputatio XXXI, which is the main text for Suárez' doctrine on this crucial point, leaves no doubt. Suárez assumes, in fact, that an essence cannot be actualized by an existence distinct from itself; that essence (once created by God, because, of course, the essence as such can never have a being per se) is a possibility capable of becoming Being. Essence and existence cannot, therefore, be really distinguished, even when they are (as some Thomists admit) simultaneous. In other words, there is no reason according to Suárez, for making any real distinction between essences and existences when existences themselves are given. Translated into more familiar terms, although this involves partially abandoning the rigorous Scholastic vocabulary, we could say that the being of actual essence and the being of effective existence imply each other, and can thus be only conceptually distinguished.
I do not ignore of course, the fact that existence for Thomas Aquinas was not always something accidental; existence can be an efficient cause transcendent to the essence. Nor do I ignore that in the famous debates about the kind of analogy of Being to be accepted, Thomas Aquinas, while admitting as primary the so-called analogy of proportionality, did not deny an analogy of attributionwhich is quite close to Suárez' intrinsic or "metaphysical" analogy. Finally, I am not unaware that I have to be here deplorably superficial about a very tangled question. But I hope no one will deny that, whatever the opinions of the classical and later Scholastics on this crucial problem, Suárez did more than just avoid objections by means of an indefinite distinction of meanings. Essence and existence mean what they say. I doubt whether we could otherwise properly understand the subtle but extremely rigorous doctrine of Suárez as to the rôle played by the science of logic and the nature of logic itself. As is well known, Suárez' doctrine of logical science, as explained in Disputatio LIV, maintains that there is no logic as a science of rational beingseither "objective" or founded upon the things themselvesbut that logic is always directed by the requirements of "reality," and, therefore, has no contents except the purely formal contents adapted per se to reality. If Suárez had not attached himself to the tradition of those who, according to Leibniz, "mathematicum rigorem extra ipsas scientias quas vulgo mathematicas appelamus locum habere non putant," to those who deny the possibility of applying mathematics to nonmathematical sciences, he might have developed a certain trend to the formalization of logic.
But let us set aside a question which involves many complex issues and is still at stake. I wish merely to insist upon Suárez' contention that in actual essence, actual existence is included if we do not try to constitute actual beings by means of extrinsic qualities, forms or categories; everything that exists, exists by virtue of its own principle. Existence is, therefore, neither extrinsic to actual essence nor a mode of essence. Any distinction between existence and essence in created beings can only be understood in the same light as the distinction between actual and potential being. Or (if things already exist) the distinction has to be understood as a distinctio rationis cum fundamento in re. This meets the objection that created beings would exist essentially, that is to say, necessarily. But no distinction implies a complete separation between the being of actual essence and the being of its existence. It is obvious that, implicitly or explicitly, Suárez maintained the same contention which was later one of the fundamental tenets of Leibnizian philosophy: the contention, established by Leibniz in the Nouveaux Essais (II, c. 21 § 1), according to which the potentia (puissance) is a real power, that is to say, a possibility of change. If Suárez denied that a potentia is a reality, he, on the other hand, deprived the mere potentia possibilis of reality. And precisely because he confined potentia to possibility as such, he could admit in principle another kind of potentia, the one which has the dynamic function of an essentia actualis.
This may seem too hasty and audacious, but I believe that if we try to interpret and not merely expound the fundamental tenets of Suarezian philosophy, we shall discover much in them that is similar to the fundamental tenets of Leibniz's philosophy. Leibniz's metaphysics, in so far as the fundamental question of the distinction between essence and existence is concerned, would then be strikingly akin to Suarezian ontology. There is one writing of Leibniz where this is particularly illuminating. It is a brief text, but Leibniz had a great capacity for reducing some of the main issues of metaphysics to compact and exact formulas. I refer to his De rerum originatione radicale, written in 1697 and included in Vol. VII of Gerhardt's edition. I shall simply call attention to the basic tenet of the writing.
Leibniz formulates the ideaand I am sure all the rest of his philosophy would support his contentionthat if something exists rather than nothing, it must be due to the fact that there is in the things which are possible (or rather in their possibility or essence) some tendency toward existence. It is as if essence had a certain "pretension" or tendency to existence, as if essentia per se tenderit ad existentiam. It would of course be unfair to interpret this formula as an expression of excessive rationalism, and to say that Leibniz maintained that every essence must be transformed into an existence. He is careful to speak only of a "pretension" or tendency to existence. But in this tendency we believe we are able to recognize a conception of the being of essence, and in particular of the relation between the being of essence and the being of existence, which might be better understood if considered in the light shed by Suárez' rational distinction. In fact, the connection between essence and existence held by Suárez and Leibniz allows us to dismiss both an arbitrary rationalism and a chaotic empiricism.
Perhaps our interpretation is not altogether correct; in any case, we are aware of the fact that neither Leibniz nor Suárez can be reduced to such a schematic frame of metaphysical thinking. If, however, the question of the relation between essence and existence, and the proper kind of distinction to be admitted, is, as some philosophers are inclined to think, one of the fundamental issues of philosophy, it would not be too grave an error to derive from our assumption a complete body of metaphysical contentions. The agreement of both philosophers on their ultimate assumptions would thus be more solidly grounded than by means of an arduous and unending description of possible "influences." Now, the question is all the more interesting because, using a new approach and a quite different terminology, it has been implanted at the root of contemporary philosophy. Whether existence precedes essence, or whether essenceeither in a realistic or in a nominalistic senseis prior to existence, is not an academic question. It is one of those cases where the technicalities of philosophy seem to conceal the most important issues of man's destiny. Both Suárez and Leibniz, most likely for different purposes, and probably under different assumptions, seem to abandon their historical setting and to advance straight into the limelight of our epoch. I doubt whether we could have a better proof of the fact that a philosophy is not a simple matter of the past, an object of dissection for historians and scholars, but rather a worthwhile concern for everybody, even for historians and scholars: a living, breathing reality.
The "struggle" and at the same time the "harmony" between faith and reason in two phases of the so-called "Renaissance" is stressed by Hiram Haydn, The Counter-Renaissance (New York, 1950). I am inclined to think that there is a certain "continuity" between faith and reason, and even that each often takes advantage of the arguments afforded by its opponent.
Léon Blanchet, Les antécédents historiques du Je pense, donc je suis (Paris, 1920), especially 13, 71-75, 91.
Ernst Cassirer, Descartes: Lehre Persönlichkeit, Wirkung (Stockholm, 1939), 185ff.
Op. cit., 303, note (He refers to H. Gouhier's La Pensée religieuse de Descartes [Paris, 1924], and "Descartes et la religion," Revista di filosofia Neoscolastica, Supp. to Vol. XXIX [Milan, 1937], 417ff.).
Colección Austral No. 689 (Buenos Aires, 1947), 122 (the volume includes also the Discurso de la vida del Ilustrísimo y Reverendísimo Señor Don Martin de Ayala, escrito por sí mismo).
Hermann J. de Vleerschauwer, "Un paralelo protestante a la obra de Suárez," Revista de Filosofía (Madrid, VIII, 1949), 365-400.
Annibale Pastore, "G. Caramuel de Lobkowitz e la teoria della quantificazione del predicato," Rivisa Classici e Neolatini (Aosta, 1905).
É. Gilson, Index scholastico-cartésien (Paris, 1913), and Études sur le rôle de la pensee médiéval dans la formation du système cartésien (Paris, 1930).
A. Koyré, Descartes und die Scholastik (Bonn, 1923).
Joseph von Hertling, "Descartes Beziehungen zur Scholastik," Sitzungsberichte der bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (1897 and 1899).
J. Freudenthal, "Spinoza und die Scholastik," Philosophische Aufsätze Zeller zum 50. jähr. Doktorjubiläum gewidmet (1887).
W. Küppers, J. Locke und die Scholastik. Inaugural-Dissertation (Berlin, 1895).
P. Pedzig, P. Gassendis Metaphysik und ihr Verhältnis zur scholastischen Philosophie (Bonn, 1908).
R. von Nostiz-Rieneck, S.J., "Leibniz und die Scholastik," Philosophisches Jarbuch der Görresgesellschaft, VII (1895), 54-67.
J. Jasper, Leibniz und die Scholastik, eine historische-kritische Abhandlung (Münster i.W., 1898-99).
Fritz Rintelen, "Leibnizens Beziehungen zur Scholastik," Archiv für Gescgichte der Philosophie, 16 Bd. Neue Folge, IX (1903), 157-188, 307-333.
I do not refer to the books of Cassier, Couturat or Russell on Leibniz, because they do not deal with the subjects with which we are primarily concerned. This does not mean that Leibniz's logicthe central topic of Couturat and Russell's workscan be duly understood without any reference to Suárez. In his thesis, Die lytische Urteilslehre Leibnizens in ihrem Verhältnis zu seiner Metaphysik (1918), the Polish philosopher Bogumil Jasinowski has tried to demonstrate that the Leibnizian doctrine of the identity of the subject and the predicate was explicitly contained in Suárez, although the Spanish philosopher admits such an identity only so far as judgments expressing "eternal truths" are concerned. According to Jasinowski, the Suarezian theory on this point is based on the Scholastic distinctions between essential and accidental predications, as well as between eternal and contingent truths.
É. Gilson, La philosophie au moyen âge (Paris, 19442). Also by Gilson, Le Thomisme. Introduction à la philosophie de Saint Thomas d'Aquin (1920), and Saint Thomas d'Aquin (1927). See Paul Vignaux, La pensée au moyen âge (1938).
See Carl Werner, Franz Suarez und die Scholastik der letzten Jahrhunderte (Regensburg, 1889), I, 31ff.
A "bio-bibliographical" description of all these philosophers is contained in Marcial Salona, Historia de la Filosofía Española. Época del Renacimiento. Siglo XVI (Madrid,1941), Vol. III.
Wilhelm Windelband, Lehrbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie (Tübingen, 1892, 19355).
Marcel Bataillon, Erasme et l'Espagne (Paris,1937), 345. The Spanish translation, Erasmo y España, 2 vols. (Mexico, 1950), has been only slightly modified by the author.
Karl Eschweiler, "Roderigo de Arriaga, S.J. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Barockscholastik," Spanische Forschungen der Görresgesellschaft. I. Reihen. Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kulturgeschichte Spaniens, 3 vols. (Münster i.W., 1931), 254.
See Julián Marías, El método Histórico de las generaciones (Madrid, 1949), especially 96ff.
See Bernhard Durr, Geschichte der Jesuiten in den Ländern deutscher Zunge (Freiburg i.B., 1913).
Op cit., in Note 20, 2 vols. (1889). Also by Carl Werner, Die Scholastik des späteren Mittelalters (Ratisbon, 1887).
Emil Weber, Die philosophische Scholastik des deutschen Protestantismus im Zeitalter der Orthodoxie (Leipzig, 1907) and Der Einfluss der protestantischen Schulphilosophie auf die lutherische Dogmatik (Leipzig, 1908).
Paul Althaus, Die prinzipen der deutschen reformierten Dogmatik im Zeitalter der aristotelischen Scholastik (Leipzig, 1909).
Otto Ritschl, Die Geschichte der dogmatischen Theologie in den protestantischen Kirchen, 4 vols. (Leipzig, 1909).
Peter Petersen, Geschichte der aristotelischen Philosophie im protestantischen Deutschland (Leipzig, 1921).
Op. cit. in Note 24, 253-285. Also by Karl Eschweiler, "Die Philosophie der spanischen Spätscholastik auf den deutschen Universitäten des siebzehnten Jahrhunderts" (ibidem, I , 251-325).
Ernst Lewalter, Spanish-Jesuitische und Deutsch-Lutherische Metaphysik des 17. Jahrhunderts. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der iberisch-deutschen Kulturbeziehungen und zur Vorgeschichte des deutschen Idealismus (Hamburg, 1935).
Max Wundt, Die deutsche Schulmetaphysik des XVII. Jahrhunderts, Heidelberger Abhandlungen zur Philosophie und ihrer Geschichte (Tübingen, 1939).
Op. cit. in Note 7.
Martin Grabmann, "Die Disputationes Metaphysicae des Franz Suarez in ihrer methodischen Eigenart und Fortwirkung," Mittekakterkuches Geustesleben. Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Scholastik und Mystik (München, 1926), 525-560.
Abbé Léon Mahieu, François Suarez. Sa philosophie et les rapports qu'elle a avec sa théologie (Paris, 1921), especially 517-524.
H. Tiemann, Das spanische Schrifttum in Deutschland von der Renaissance bis zur Romantik (Hamburg, 1936).
B. Jansen, Die scholastische Philosophie des XVII. Jahrhunderts (1937), and Die Pflege der Philosophie im Jesuitenorden des XVII-XVIII. Jahrhunderts (1938).
Eberhard Conze, Der Begriff der Metaphysik bei F. Suarez (Leipzig, 1938).
J. Otto Fleckstein, "Der Aristotelismus von Suarez und der Funktionalismus in der Wissenschaft des Leibnizens Infinitesimalkalkül," Actas del Congreso Internacional de Filosofía de Barcelona, II (1948), 317-325.
Ferdinand L. F. Sassen, "La influencia de Suárez en las Universidades protestantes de los Países Bajos en los siglos XVII y XVIII," Actas, etc., III (1948), 469-471; this is only a résumé of Sassen's communication.
Joaquín Iriarte, S.J., "La proyección sobre Europa de una gran metafísica, o Suárez en la filosofía de los días del barroco," Razón y Fe (Madrid, 1948), 229-265.
Eschweiler, "Die Philosophie", etc., 267.
See especially Peter Petersen, op. cit., § 3: Der Kampf um die Metaphysik.
VI Reihe. I Band (1930). Notae ad D. Stahlium (pp. 21-41); Notae ad J. Thomasium (pp. 42-67).
See Gaston Sortais, Le Cartésianisme chez les Jésuites français au dix-septième et au dix-huitième siècles, Archives de Philosophie, VI, Cahier 3 (1929). Acording to Olga Victoria Quiroz-Martínez (La Introducción de la Filosofía Moderna en España [Mexico, 1949], 27), the same happened in Spain, where we find a great number of Jesuits adhering to atomistic and sensationalistic philosophies, and where atomists use Scholastic and Suarezian arguments (on Suarezian and "eclectic" philosophers see op. cit., 150ff.).
See A. Boehm, Le vinculum substantiale chez Leibniz. Ses origines historiques (Paris, 1938). Also, Maurice Blondel, Une énigme historique: le "vinculum substantiale" d'après Leibniz et l'ébauche d'un réalisme supérieur (Paris, 1930). Blondel's book, as Boehm has stated, is not historically reliable.
See L. Jugnet, "Essai sur les rapports entre la philosophie suarézienne de la matière et la pensée de Leibniz," Revue d'Historie de la Philosophie et d'Historie générale de la civilization, III (1935), 129.
Op. cit. in Note 36, 551.
In a paper read before the 1950 meeting of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division), later published in The Review of Metaphysics, IV (1951), 495-505, Paul Schrecker has called attention to the fundamental importance of this writing of Leibniz, comparing its main themes with the Platonic Timaeus. I had already leaned heavily on the De rerum originatione radicale in order to analyze one of the few basic metaphysical assumptions of western philosophy; see my Introducción a Bergson, offprint of the preface to the Spanish tranlation of Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion (Buenos Aires, 1946), 7-60. Also, cf. Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Harvard University Press, 1936), 177ff. on Leibniz's principle of the exigency in essences to exist.
Ferrater Mora, José. “Suárez and Modern Philosophy.” Journal of the History of Ideas 14 (October 1953): 528-547.