On Beings of Reason: De Entibus Rationis: Metaphysical Disputation LIV

On Beings of Reason: De Entibus Rationis: Metaphysical Disputation LIV

On Beings of Reason: De Entibus Rationis: Metaphysical Disputation LIV

On Beings of Reason: De Entibus Rationis: Metaphysical Disputation LIV


This translation of Suarez's 54th Disputation documents the ancient Greek and Medieval sources of his discussion. It also considers Suarez's influence upon hitherto unknown late scholastic writers and the relevance of his intentionality theory to figures such as Descartes and Kant.


In my view, Suárez was a very able philosopher. His thoughts command attention. But his writing style, like that of most Latin Scholastics, is dull, matter of fact, and repetitious to a fault. His sentences frequently run on and his paragraphs often seem interminable. Nevertheless, I have tried to translate his text as faithfully as possible.

At times, I did break up his long sentences into shorter ones. Also at times I substituted active for passive voice and I occasionally changed his impersonal and/or periphrastic constructions to a more colloquial form. Although I was often tempted, I did not restructure any of his often too long paragraphs. Instead, in these I have followed his composition and structuring. My intention throughout was to be at once faithful but also reasonable.

As every translator of Latin knows, there are difficulties in rendering that language faithfully, clearly, and consistently into readable English. Perhaps the most obvious difficulty is presented by the absence of both a definite and an indefinite article in Latin. In many contexts this makes little or no difference. But there are occasions when one must choose whether to supply an article or not, or, presuming an affirmative choice, whether to use a definite or an indefinite article. At times, the translator can only hope that his decisions are correct.

Again as every translator of Latin knows, some words offer particular problems. The prize example is furnished by the term "ratio." In different contexts, it can be translated as reason, reasoning, argument, rationale, account, ratio, nature, essence, aspect, facet, character, feature, characteristic, etc. The goal desired is to render it correctly and consistently, all the while attending to contexts and nuances. Of course, the difficulty with ratio is compounded here by the very terminology of the subject matter, i.e., being of reason (ens rationis).

Hoping to aid assessment of the translation, I have sometimes indicated the presence of "ratio" by putting it in parentheses following an English equivalent. I have done the same with other words. An example would be "habitudo," which in different contexts can mean relation, reference, respect, disposition, condition, habitude, etc. Or for another example, there was "fingere," which can mean to feign, to fashion, to fabricate, to make up, to fictionalize, etc.

With much the same goal of aiding assessment, I have often included the original Latin word or phrase after a translation, especially if that translation was a bit free. Again, in hope of helping comprehension, I

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