Francisco Suárez (1548–1617), Scholasticism's “Outstanding Doctor” (Doctor eximius), was arguably the greatest Jesuit philosopher-theologian of all time. A case for this could be made from the viewpoint of his thought and also of what a German might call its Wirkungs geschichte, its influence on later thinkers. As regards his thought and its place in Scholasticism, my late friend and colleague at St. Louis University, Vernon Bourke, put things well when he very astutely wrote:
If we think of Thomism, Scotism, and Ockhamism as the three points of a triangle, then we may picture Suárezianism as a type of thought which falls within this triangle, on some questions moving closer to one point, on others approaching a different point. To some readers it looks like eclecticism but Suárezianism is a well informed and highly personal philosophy which shares some of the features of all the major schools of earlier Scholasticism with systematic consistency and coherence.
From my personal four-decades-long study of Suárez and Suárezianism, I can and will, with conviction, second Professor Bourke's judgment. While I would not call myself a Suárezian, in the sense of a simple follower of Suárez, I will confess to anyone that I have learned a tremendous amount from the Doctor eximius. I would also tell anyone who wants to learn the history of medieval philosophy, and especially the history of the Aristotelian tradition through the Middle Ages, that Suárez will be his best teacher. Here I agree, for the most part, with the greatest twentieth-century historian of medieval philosophy, my own teacher at the University of Toronto, Etienne Gilson, when he writes:
In the Preface to his Metaphysical Debates Suárez modestly introduces himself as a theologian who, to facilitate his own work, has felt it advisable to lay down, once and for all, the philosophical principles of which he makes use in his theological teaching. In fact, Suárez enjoys such a knowledge of medieval philosophy as to put to shame any modern historian of medieval thought. On each and every question he seems to know everybody and everything, and to read his book is like attending the Last Judgment of four centuries of Christian speculation by a dispassionate judge, always willing to give everyone a chance, supremely apt at summing up a case and, unfortunately, so anxious not to hurt . . .