Francisco Suárez

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Suárez, Francisco


Born Jan. 5, 1548, in Granada; died Sept. 25, 1617, in Lisbon. Spanish theologian and philosopher; representative of “second Scholasticism.” Jesuit.

Suárez graduated from the University of Salamanca in 1570. During the period 1570–80, he taught in Salamanca, Segovia, Valladolid, and Avila, from 1580 to 1585 at the Roman College, from 1585 to 1593 in Alcalá and then again in Salamanca. Beginning in 1597 he taught at the University of Coimbra in Portugal.

Suárez greatly modified the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas and proposed some ideas similar to John Duns Scotus. Denying that essence was really distinct from existence, he held that the singular has primacy over the general: a thing is neither form nor matter but has primacy over both and is identical with the fact of being. In the disputes on the relationship between free will and divine predestination, which gained in intensity in the polemics with the proponents of Protestantism, Suárez shifted the emphasis from predestination to god’s foreknowledge: god does not determine man’s free choice but has foreknowledge of it and, in accordance with this foreknowledge of man’s path to god, confers grace.

Suárez’s doctrine was opposed by the official circles of the church but later gained wide currency among Catholic theologians. His main philosophical work, Metaphysical Disputations (1597), was very influential, in particular in the universities of the 17th century, and left a marked imprint on the work of even such anti-Scholastic philosophers as Descartes and Leibniz. Politically, Suárez justified tyrannicide: a ruler who has become a tyrant and thereby violates the divine principle of rule, which is understood as a just contract between the people and the ruler, deserves to be killed. Suárez’s treatises on natural law had a considerable influence on H. Grotius.


Opera omnia, vols. 1–28. Paris, 1856–78.


Scoraille, R. de. F. Suárez, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1912–13.
Rommen, H. Die Staatslehre des F. Suárez. Munich, 1926.
Mullaney, T. Suárez on Human Freedom. Baltimore, 1950.
Perena Vicente, L. Teoría de la guerra en F. Suárez, vols. 1–2. Madrid, 1954.
Dumont, P. Liberté humaine et concours divin d’après Suárez. Paris, 1960.
Wilenius, R. The Social and Political Theory of Francisco Suárez. Helsinki, 1963.
McCormick, J. J. A Suárezian Bibliography. Chicago, 1937.
Múgica, P. Bibliográfica suáreciana. Granada, 1948.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.