On Formal and Universal Unity

On Formal and Universal Unity

On Formal and Universal Unity

On Formal and Universal Unity

Excerpt

Francis Suarez was born January 5, 1548 in Granada Spain. At the age of 10 he was tonsured, having elected an ecclesiastical career. For three and one half years he pursued literary studies and in the middle of his thirteenth year undertook the university course in civil and canon law, studies which made a permanent impression upon his mind. However, he interrupted his legal education by his decision to join the Society of Jesus, a decision greeted with doubt by representatives of the Order who thought his weak health and undistinguished record at law unpromising. Upon his insistence, he was allowed to enter the novitiate where, after three months, his maturity and virtue recommended his immediate transfer to Salamanca for training in philosophy. He was seventeen at the time. During two years of training in philosophy, his talents, urged by prodigious efforts to conquer a subject which seemed most difficult to him, earned him high repute. At nineteen he began theology and in 1570 with his studies completed, he commenced his teaching career. Although he taught philosophy only four years, as the normal prelude to teaching theology, and although the rest of his life was spent as professor of theology, he never ceased emphasizing the importance of philosophical knowledge as a prerequisite to theological learning: his Metaphysical Disputations were composed on this premise.

His forty-three years of preceptorship in theology met unusual recognition almost from the beginning. At the age of thirty-two he was given the chair in theology at the Jesuit College in Rome, the Order's most important college; his health prohibited his retaining this post for long and forced his return to Alcalà. In his forty-second year he published his first work: De Verbo Incarnato, a commentary of the third part of the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas. Shortly thereafter, Vasquez, a renowned Jesuit theologian who had been teaching in Rome, returned to Alcalà. Character disparity between these two good men caused Suarez to request transfer to Salamanca; later he moved to Coimbra where he spent twenty years amid a distinguished group of philosophers and theologians. In 1597, he published the Metaphysical Disputations, the significance of which is described below. In all, his published writings fill twenty-eight large volumes, one of the monuments of human intelligence and industry.

Over all, Suarez's life was a studious and quiet career of devoted teaching and debate, surrounded with an atmosphere of serious scholarship and scrupulous criticism. However, there were periods when . . .

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