Suárez, Francisco. 2004. A Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics (Index Locupletissimus in Metaphysicam Aristotelis). Milwaukee:
Marquette University Press.
Translated with an introduction (pp. 7-19) and notes by John P. Doyle.
The Index is the preface to the Disputationes Metaphysicae.
Content: English translation: 20-247; Corresponding Latin texts: I. Ad lectorem 248; II. Disputatio II: Prooemium 250; III. Index
Locupletissimus 252; IV. Index Disputationum 390; Persons Mentioned in the Index 410; Bibliography 413; Index of Names 424-426.
"Balancing the system in the Disputationes, the Index amounts to a late medieval commentary, “by way of question,” on the first 12
books of the Metaphysics. Shorter in length than, for example, St. Thomas Aquinas’ (1225–1274) commentary on the same 12 books, Suárez’s Ample
Index more than makes up for that by cross-referencing the Disputationes itself hundreds of times. In fact, the Index and the
Disputationes are exactly as Suárez intended them to be, complementary of one another and mutually supportive." (Doyle, p. 8).
"However, because there will be very many who will desire that this whole doctrine be collated with the books of Aristotle, not only in order
to better perceive on what principles of the so great Philosopher it is based, but also in order that it be more easily and usefully employed for understanding
Aristotle himself, I have also sought to provide the reader in this matter with an elaborate index, in which, if it is attentively read, most easily (if I am
not mistaken) all those things which Aristotle treated in the books of Metaphysics can be comprehended and retained in memory. And again, [with that
index] all questions can be at hand which are customarily raised among the expositors of these books." (Suárez, p. 21).
———. 1982. Suárez on Individuation. Metaphysical Disputation V: Individual Unity and Its Principle (De Unitate Individuali, Elusque
Principio). Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.
Translated from the Latin with introduction (pp. 1-27), notes, glossary (pp. 175-279), and bibliography (pp. 281-287) by Jorge J. E.
"When thinking about an individual concrete thing such as a man or a tree, one may consider those features that the thing has or seems to
have in common with other things, or alternatively, those features that are peculiar or unique to the thing under consideration. If the common features are
part of what distinguishes the thing from a larger group of things and at the same time makes it part of a smaller group of things, the members of which can be
distinguished only in terms of individual features, then one is thinking of what was commonly known in the Middle Ages as the thing's "nature." If, on the
other hand, one considers those features that set a thing apart from all other things, including those falling together with it into a group, then one is
considering the thing's individuality. In either case the content of the thought seems to be different. Take Peter, for instance. A consideration of his nature
focuses on his humanity; that is, the feature or group of features such as rationality, capacity to laugh, etc., that make him human and in respect of which he
is both indistinguishable from other human beings and distinguishable from non-human beings such as dogs, trees and rocks. A consideration of Peter's
individuality, on the other hand, will focus only on that feature or group of features which separate Peter from Paul and any other individual being, whether
human or not. In the first case we think of the ways in which Peter is the same as other human beings, In the second of the ways in which Peter is unique. The
cluster of philosophical problems concerned with the nature of a thing is usually designated as "the problem of universals," those concerned with individuality
are gathered under the term "the problem of individuation," Suárez's attention in Disputation V is directed toward the latter.
Contrary to a widespread misconception, the complexity of the problem of individuation was not ignored by scholastics. Most were aware that
there is more than one issue related to individuality, and a few of them isolated and discussed the four most important ones. These are, in logical order: the
nature of individuality, the extension of individuality, the ontological status of individuality in the individual and its relation to the nature, and,
finally, the cause or causes that bring about individuality. When references to the medieval or scholastic problem of individuation are found in contemporary
literature, it is usually the last that is meant. And not without reason because up to the fourteenth century one seldom finds a careful and clear distinction
between these four different issues, and much more effort is put into the solution of the last than any of the others. Yet, it is also evident that as the age
progresses they become more and more defined until we find late scholastics like Suárez carefully separating them in their discussions. Some never became quite
independent in treatment, however. The first one, the nature of individuality, was usually discussed in the context of the second, the extension of
individuality. And even the second does not become the subject of separate investigation until late in the Middle Ages. Only the last two issues, the
ontological status of individuality and its cause or causes, were generally discussed in isolation from the others. Suárez's treatise is consistent with this
practice. He deals with the nature of individuality in the context of its extension (Sect. I), giving separate analyses of the ontological status of
individuality (Sect. II) and it cause in various entities (Sects. III-VII). The last two Sections of the Disputation take up a problem related to the
individuality of accidents: whether numerically different accidents can be present in the same subject simultaneously and successively." (Introduction, pp.
"In Conclusion I would like to stress four important points. The first is the completely philosophical character of Suárez's analysis.
Although some theological considerations and examples creep in once in a while, the discussion is guided wholly by philosophical principles. The arguments
given are philosophical, and the criteria by which various views and arguments are judged are also philosophical. Often Suárez will explicitly make the point
that an argument is not philosophical enough, meaning that it is based on theological assumptions, or that a particular problem that had surfaced in the
discussion is theological and therefore outside the scope of his discussion (Sect. II, §§ 30 and 37). It is clear, then, that at this time, and for Suárez at
least, philosophy and in particular metaphysics had a place of its own among the sciences, independent of theology. In this Suárez is no less modern than
Descartes or Leibniz who, as it is well known, read the Metaphysical Disputations avidly.
The second point is that Suárez's analysis of individuality is ontological in character. He is not primarily concerned with the
discernibility of the individual and its cause, although he is aware both of the problems related to the knowledge of the individual and the epistemological
problems related to the way we distinguish between two individuals (Sect. III, § 28 and VII, § 4). The roots of discernibility are always referred to by
Suárez, as they are in the scholastic tradition dating back to Thomas, as "signs" or "indications" of individuality rather than its causes or principles.(38)
The latter are prior to the former both logically and ontologically, even though the former are prior in human experience. This is why Suárez, like most of
philosophers who put ontology before epistemology, cannot adhere to what in contemporary philosophy goes by the name of "the principle of identity of
indiscernibles," since such a principle implies a reversal of what Suárez would regard as the proper order between these two sciences. His primary concern is
with individuality as it independent of human consideration.
Thirdly, I would stress Suárez's contribution to the controversy surrounding the problem of individuation. Besides the subtlety and
originality of many of the arguments he proposes, four factors stand out: (1) His identification of the nature of individuality as indivisibility, and of
distinction as a result of individuality rather than a constituent of it. (2) His explicit discussion of the extension of individuality, a problem seldom
treated separately by his predecessors, whose views on the subject were in many cases no more than implicit uncritical assumptions rather than explicitly
discussed philosophical commitments. (3) His original interpretation of Scotus' doctrine of haecceitas as an answer to the problem of the ontological status of
individuality rather than to the problem concerned with the cause individuality. (4) The merits of his own view on the causal analysis of individuality, which
avoids some of the most obvious pitfalls of other views and presents a unified and economic solution to this most vexing philosophical problem. The numerous
other merits of Suárez's analysis will become evident, no doubt, to the careful reader.
The fourth most important point I would stress in closing is the centrality of this problem within Suárez's metaphysics. This is evident from
the place that the discussion of individuation has within the whole framework of the Metaphysical Disputations. As a kind of unity, individuality is
discussed just after the general notion of transcendental unity in Disputation IV. This indicates that he considered it the most important kind of the first of
the three basic attributes of being (unity, truth, goodness). Universal and formal unit are discussed only after individual unity, in Disputation VI. For it is
individual unity that makes all other unity possible. As such, the Disputation V reveals the core of Suarecian metaphysics." (Introduction, pp. 23-24)
———. 1964. On Formal and Universal Unity (Disputatio Vi: De Unitate Formali Et Universali). Milwaukee: Marquette University
Disputation VI. Translated from the Latin with an introduction (pp. 1-27) by James F. Ross.
"The unity of the scholastic tradition on universals is illustrated by a list of metaphysical points on which Aquinas, Scotus, Occam, and
Suárez all agree and an indication of the one or two major points on which there is substantial disharmony, although there existed a common tradition as to
mode of discussion.
All four authors are agreed that: (1) There are no universals to be found existing independently both of the operations of the mind and of
the existence of singular things; and further that such a notion is inconsistent. ( 2) Anything that really exists (that is, exists independently of
consideration by the human mind and of any mind other than the Divine Mind) is a particular or singular thing, a primary substance. ( 3) Whatever is actually
universal is an ens rations, a mental being called a "concept," whose existence ( analogically speaking) is derived from the operations of the
conceiving mind. (4) There is a foundation in re and independently of the operations of the mind for the universality of the concept which is actually
universal. (5) The foundation in re is, at least in part, the form found in the individual. (6) The foundation in re can be called a
universal by extrinsic denomination, i.e., by analogy of attribution based upon the causal relation which holds between the foundation in re and the
actual universal found in the mind.(48) (7) The universal concept is formed by the mind through a process called "abstraction"; (on this point there are many
important distinctions and differences which will not be treated herein). (8) There is a real similarity in things of the same nature, a similarity which is
the foundation of the "commonness" of the nature or quiddity.
Other than differences in psychology which we must gloss over, the chief discrepancies among these authors are found in the following areas:
(1) the manner in which the forms in individuals are the foundation in re for the universal concept and (2) the analysis of the claim that two things
are similar because they have something in common. There are several notions of commonness or community involved, several interpretations of the expression
"common nature" and consequently several analyses of the expression "the form in the individual is the foundation in re for the universality of the
concept." These two points are intimately connected, since for each of the four authors, and especially for Suárez, the explanation of the similarity of things
is directly connected with the explanation of the foundation of universality.
In brief, Suárez and Scotus are very similar in their psychological doctrine of universals, whereas Aquinas, Occam, and Suárez are all much
closer together on the metaphysics of the matter than any one of them is to Scotus, who stands closer to Plato and Augustine. Suárez's view is truly a
syntheses of the work of his predecessors, and comparison with those writers should not be used to make him join some older "camp," but should function merely
to clarify the various strands of tradition woven into his original design.(49)
Finally a comparison of starting points is useful:
1) Scotus says we must postulate community (which is a logical consequence of possibility) of natures and must seek causal explanations of
universality and singularity, which are logically posterior to community.
2) Occam says we must postulate singularity as a principle of explanation, not itself explicable, and proceed to explain universality and
community, which are logically posterior.
3) Suarez and Aquinas say we must have a principle of individuation to explain singularity and must also seek explanations of community and
universality, which are logically posterior to the principles of composition (essence-existence, matter-form) through which we solve the problem of the one and
the many. As a result, all three factors, universality, communicability, and individuation must be explained in terms of prior metaphysical principles." (Introduction, pp. 26-27).
(48) At first sight it might appear that Occam would deny this; but his statement that nothing extra-mental is to be called universal,
clearly had in mind literal or proper predication. He had no interest in analogous talk and might still have resisted the point; but his own position compells
acquiescence, since he holds for causal dependence of concepts upon particular things. Scotus, too, might seem to resist; but by the same arguments would have
to agree, since his position is stronger and entails this one.
(49) The richness of Suárez's Disputation on Universals cannot be tapped in an introduction. A much more extensive analysis of
Suárez's theory will be forthcoming from the author in a general history of the discussion of universals during the middle ages.
———. 1947. On the Various Kinds of Distinctions (Disputatio Vii: De Variis Distinctionum Generibus). Milwaukee: Marquette University
Translation from the Latin, with an introduction (pp. 1-15) by Cyril Vollert (reprinted 1976).
"Disputation VII has been chosen as a sample of the metaphysics of Suárez for two reasons. First, it is typical both of his method and of his
philosophical thought; many of his characteristic doctrines are briefly treated in it, or at least are indicated. Secondly, it introduces his teaching on the
modes, without which much of his philosophy is unintelligible, and above all propounds his theory on distinctions, a point of capital importance for a grasp of
Suarezian metaphysics. As the views of Suarez on distinctions and modes are clearly brought out in the Disputation itself, there seems to be no need of a
preliminary exposition of these tenets in survey form.(28)
Suarez treats of distinctions in the context of his discussion on the unity of being, Disputations IV to VII. Disputation IV deals with
unum in general, Disputation V with individual unity and the principle of individuation, Disputation VI with universals, and Disputation VII with the
various kinds of distinctions. The connection between the question of unity and that of distinctions is explained by Suárez himself in the introduction to
Disputation VII. Section 3 of this Disputation, on "the same" and "other," is added to the treatise on distinctions in order to round out the general
discussion of unity.
The main reason why a philosopher's theory of distinctions is important is that his solution to the problem of distinctions is a key to his
concept of being. For distinctions are based on the nature of being; therefore a metaphysician's view of the nature of distinctions leads to an understanding
of his doctrine of being itself.(29) In reading Disputation VII, the student can profitably ponder whether any ideas developed in it support the suggestion put
forth by a scholar of our own day, who is both a profound philosopher and a shrewd appraiser of intellectual trends:
Everything is accounted for if we recall that Suarez lived in a nominalistic milieu, and that, despite his avowed reaction in favor of
realism in logic, he did not fully succeed in keeping his metaphysics free from this influence.(30)"
Indispensable, too, for an appreciation of Suarezian metaphysics, is his modal theory. Suarez perceived that most things are highly complex,
composed as they are of distinct entities, substantial and accidental. Hence he concluded that their essential union is tenuous, or even impossible, without
some ultimate bond. This bond is a mode of being. He saw, further, that every created being is subject to numberless determinations which lie outside its
essence, but do not contribute new reality to it. The mode supplies the complement of finality. It closes and terminates an essence; it is not a formal, but a
The Suarezian system is coherent in its complicated structure. Suarez remains faithful to his primary concepts of entity, unity, existence,
and distinction, and traces out their implications to the ultimate conclusion. No greater mistake could be made than to attempt to "purify" the system by
suppressing the modes. Take away the modes, and the Suarezian structure collapses; just as, in his view, without the unifying function of the modes, finite
beings themselves would fall apart. Whether for a mind craving for reality the modes provide satisfying fare, is another question. A study of Disputation VII
should help toward an answer." (Vollert, Introduction, pp. 12-13).
(28) A sufficiently detailed account of these two questions may be found in P. E. Nolan, "The Suarezian Modes," Proceedings of the Tenth
Annual Convention of the Jesuit Educational Association (Chicago: Loyola U. Press, 1931), pp. 184-200.
(29) This point has been fully discussed by Michael V. Murray, S.J., in his hitherto unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Theory of
Distinctions in the Metaphysics of Francis Suarez, Fordham University, 1944. Dr. Murray advances cogent reasons, well fortified by historical research,
for his conclusion that Suarez was thoroughly imbued with the widespread nominalism of his time.
(30) J. Maréchal, Le point de depart de la métaphysique, I (2d. ed., Louvain: Museum Lessianum, 1927), p. 185.
———. 1989. The Metaphysics of Good and Evil According to Suárez. Metaphysical Disputations X and Xi and Selected Passages from
Disputation Xxiii and Other Works. München: Philosophia Verlag.
X: De Bono seu bonitate transcendentali; XI: De Malo; XXXIII: De substantia creata in communi.
Also contains translations of: Tractatus de divina substantia ejusque attributis, book III chapter 3, §§ 9-11; chapter 7 §10 and
De divina praedestinatione et reprobatione, book 1, chapter 5, §§ 2-3; book 3, chapter 8, §§.1-2; book 5, chapter 4, §§ 1-3.
Translation, with introduction (pp. 17-101), notes and glossary (pp. 217-265) by Jorge J. E. Gracia, Douglas Davis.
"The subject matter of Disputations X an XI concerns the metaphysical issues that surrounds good and evil. Other matters, also of interest
both to philosophers and theologians, such as the problem concerning the foundation of moral judgments, and the problem that the existence of evil poses for
those who believe in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and good supreme being, are largely omitted. These and related issues were as important in
Suarez's times as they are today, and he addressed them explicitly and in some detail, but not in the Disputationes metaphysicae. Following his lead,
we have in general omitted reference to these matters with one exception: in order to give the reader a more complete view of Suarez's overall doctrine of
evil, we have selected from his opera various texts that address some theological issues which have received considerable attention in contemporary
philosophical circles, and which reveal Suarez's views on these matters and complement the views presented in Disputation xi. These texts have been placed in
In spite of the relative brevity, systematic organization, and clarity of thought of Disputations X and XI, the text is not easy to
understand for a modern reader. As in many scholastic texts of the late medieval and Renaissance periods, the discussion is carefully organized, but the issues
and arguments are so intricate and the number of technical terms so large, that even those familiar with the philosophical literature of the times are likely
to find the text difficult to follow at times. Since the translator should avoid altering the style and general tone of the text, we have had to use other
means to facilitate its understanding: we have added an Introduction, notes where they seemed appropriate and, in order to keep their number down, a glossary
of technical terms at the end. The Introduction has been kept general; it presents a summary and interpretation of Suarez's position and places it within a
philosophical and historical framework. Its aim is propaedeutic. The purpose of the notes is primarily to identify the references to other authors made by
Suarez, but in a few instances they are used also to solve particular problems that arise in the text or to clarify important uses of terms that appear
infrequently in the Disputations. The texts contained in the Appendix are presented without notes, except for those that identify their origin, because they
are fragments of works which may eventually appear in more complete translations; we leave their annotation then for the translator of the complete works. The
Glossary, in contrast with the notes, deals with recurring difficulties of interpretation arising from the use of technical terminology. Its purpose is not
only to clarify Suarez's use of these terms, but also to identify the common understanding of them by scholastics and, when possible, to point to their source
in Aristotle or in his Latin commentators. It is intended primarily to help non-specialists, and thus also makes clear how particular Latin terms have been
translated into English. In the English-Latin Index the reader will find the Latin equivalent or equivalents of the English terms used in the text, which in
turn will facilitate the use of the Glossary. Finally, the Bibliography lists the works cited in order to help the location of references, and author and
subject indexes should aid the reader in locating pertinent materials." Introduction, pp. 14-15).
———. 2000. On the Formal Cause of Substance. Metaphysical Disputation Xv (De Causa Formali Substantiali). Milwaukee: Marquette
Translated by John Kronen and Jeremiah Reedy; Introduction (pp. 7-16) and explanatory notes by John Kronen.
"The Specific Problems Addressed in Disputation XV
One of the things that made Suárez, a great thinker was his impatience with vagueness of any sort and his systematic thoroughness. In this
regard Disputation XV is no exception. Never before or since has there been so thorough a treatment of the Aristotelian notion of form. In the course of the
Disputation Suárez considered the existence and nature of substantial forms, their eduction, their causality and effect, and their unity. Finally, to be
complete, Suárez, treated what he called the "metaphysical form," though this is only analogous to the substantial form in the proper sense. We shall briefly
summarize Suárez's views with respect to each of these issues, and discuss the main reasons he gave for them. But we must warn the reader that no summary of
Suárez, much less one this brief, can give any idea of the exhaustiveness and sophistication of his discussion of substantial form; to get the proper sense of
these, one must turn to Suárez himself.
Section I: The existence of substantial forms
The first question Suárez treated in Disputation XV concerns the existence of substantial forms. This might seem a rather odd procedure. One
might think it suitable first to give a definition of what substantial forms are, before attempting to prove their existence. Disputation XV does have a short
section which presents a very thorough definition of substantial form, but it is the fifth section in Disputation XV. Why did Suárez wait so long to give this
definition? The reason is simple: substantial forms are inferred entities, not observables. Their very nature, therefore, can only be established on the
arguments which present reasons for believing they exist. Accordingly, Suárez first gave arguments for the existence of substantial forms, and answered
objections to positing them, before defining them. Furthermore, he regarded some of these objections as important enough to merit sections of their own; hence,
he did not give a definition of substantial forms until he had both argued for their existence and responded, to his own satisfaction, to objections against
The arguments Suárez gave for supposing substantial forms exist are of two sorts, a posteriori and a priori. The a
posteriori arguments briefly are: 1) Human beings are constituted by matter and a substantial form; therefore, other material substances are as well; 2)
Substantial forms are necessary to root the various essential properties of things; 3) Substantial forms are necessary to provide an explanation for the return
of a thing to its connatural state after it has been altered from without; 4) Substantial forms are necessary to explain why the intense application of one
power impedes the application of another power; and 5) Substantial forms are necessary to provide proper termini of substantial changes. The single a priori
argument is that substantial forms are not intrinsically impossible, and are demanded by the order of the universe, the perfection of the universe, and the
perfection and unity of material substances.
Sections 2-4: The eduction of substantial forms
Suárez gave several objections to positing the existence of substantial forms. The one he regarded as the most grave focuses on their origin.
It takes the form of a dilemma: 1) If substantial forms exist, then they come to be either a) by creation or b) not by creation. Not (a), since this would
require continual miracles. Not (b), since when substantial change occurs the form itself must come to be from nothing; but to come to be from nothing is to be
created. Hence, there are no substantial forms.
Suárez accused this argument of laboring under a false dilemma since it fails to consider that forms could come to be without being either 1)
created or 2) made out of something. In the course of making his case, Suárez argued that creation is opposed not only to making something out of
something, but also to making something in something. Thus, though he admitted that substantial forms are not made out of anything, as that would
lead to an infinite regress, he argued that they are made in something, that is, in a matter properly organized to receive a them. In so arguing Suárez gave a
very clear notion of what it means for a substantial form to be educed from the potency of matter. It is for it to be made with a dependency, both in coming to
be and being, in a properly disposed bit of matter.
After having given a clear account of the nature of eduction in general, Suárez took up some very particular problems concerning the eduction
of substantial forms. The first problem is whether or not matter always temporally precedes form in every eduction, and the second is whether or not forms are
made as such. Without going into his reasons here, Suárez's answer to the first question is that matter need not temporally precede form, but need
only ontologically or logically precede it, insofar as matter is the subject of form. His answer to the second question is that form, as a
proper part of a complete substance, is not made as such, though it is itself made from nothing, but rather the composite, which the form partially
Section 5: The nature of substantial forms
Having given a barrage of arguments to prove forms exist, and having answered crucial objections against supposing that they exist, Suárez
gave a very precise definition of substantial forms. According to Suárez, a substantial form is "a simple and incomplete substance which, as the act of matter,
constitutes with it the essence of a composite substance." This differs from the traditional definition of form, which is "an intrinsic cause giving being to a
thing." Though Suárez used this definition in defining formal causality in DM XII, he did not favor it here because of his disagreement with Thomistic
metaphysics. For Suárez form completes the being of a composite, giving it powers particular to a specific sort of substance, but it does not give complete
substantial being to a thing; in particular, it does not give the being of matter to a thing. Since, according to Suárez, the Thomists held that form channels
the act of existing to matter and thus, in some sense, gives matter its own proper being,(11) Suárez decided not to give the traditional definition of form
here, preferring instead one that is more in harmony with his own doctrine of a merely conceptual distinction between essence and existence in finite
Sections 6-9: The causality and effects of substantial forms
In accordance with the general method Suárez adopted in treating the causes of being, after he proved the existence of substantial form and
gave a clear definition of it, Suárez went on to treat, in a typically exhaustive manner, of its causality and its effects. The first topic Suárez discussed
with respect to a form's causality is its principle of causing. The principle of causing of a thing is the faculty or power in virtue of which it
causes when it causes. Thus the principle of causing of June Anderson's singing is her vocal chords and her trained musical ability. According to Suárez, the
principle of causing of a form is nothing other than the form itself. This is related to the actual causality of the form. For Suárez form, as an intrinsic
cause of being, does not cause by creating something distinct from itself in a composite substance; rather, it causes by simply uniting its own essence to the
other constituent of the composite. Thus the causality of form is simply its union with matter.
The conditions required for a form to cause are: 1) its existence;(12) 2) its spatial proximity to its subject; and 3) appropriate
dispositions on the part of its subject. The first two of these are absolutely necessary (i.e., not even God could bring it about that form causes in their
absence); the last is only naturally necessary (i.e., in the natural order dispositions on the part of matter are necessary for the form to inform it, but God
could bring it about that form informs in the absence of these. For example, He could bring it about that a human soul informs the body of a cat).
The effects of form are: 1) the actualization of matter and 2) the composite. These are in reality [ex natura rei] the same effect
taken from the point of view of different relations, in the way that getting a majority of the vote in the general election and being elected president are the
same. That is to say, the actualization of matter's potency to be something, say a pig, is nothing other than the very constitution of the composite
substance of a pig. For Suárez, form gives being to matter only in a certain respect. For example, it may give being to matter by actualizing its potential to
be a pig. However, form does not give being to matter by giving matter its own being qua matter. In this, Suárez disagreed with the Thomists and their doctrine
of the real distinction between essence and existence. Nevertheless, though form does not give being intrinsically to matter by actually constituting that
being, matter has such a minimal existence that it cannot naturally exist without a dependency on form; only by the absolute and infinite causal power of God
can matter exist denuded of all form.(13)
Section 10: The unicity of substantial form
A much debated question in the middles ages was whether or not there is more than one substantial form to each substance. The Franciscans
held that there is more than one substantial form in higher substances such as human beings and animals.(14) Their reasons for holding this were diverse, and
each of them was treated by Suárez in section 10. However, there seems to have been two main reasons for their doctrine. The first is that, as higher
substances share certain powers and properties with lower beings but also possess powers peculiar to their own levels of being, several forms must be posited
in them to account for their similarity with and difference from lower beings. The second main reason is that there is evidence that lower forms remain in
compounds (e.g., it seems that water is present in plants, animals and humans); therefore, it would seem that compounds are characterized by the forms of the
elements that make them up as well as by their own peculiar forms. Scotus added a new argument for the view that there is more than one form in humans based
upon the metaphysical distance between the human soul and the body. The human soul, he reasoned, is too perfect to immediately inform naked prime matter;
hence, in order for the soul to inform a certain piece of matter, it is necessary that matter be first informed with the form of corporeity, which gives it
extension and the required organic structure. Scotus thought his theory confirmed by the fact that human bodies do not immediately corrupt after death.
The Franciscan tradition came under strong attack on these points from Thomas Aquinas and his followers. Aquinas argued, in the first place,
that it is impossible for there to be more than one substantial form in a single composite since, as substantial form gives substantial being, a plurality of
substantial forms yields a plurality substantial beings. But each substance can only have one substantial being since it is impossible for a single
thing in a category to be many things in that category. Further, Aquinas argued that, as a higher form can do anything a lower can, there is no need
to posit many substantial forms to account for the higher powers of humans and animals; one form will give the human being, for example, not only the higher
powers of reason, but also the lower powers of sensation, growth, reproduction, etc.(15)
Suárez agreed with the Thomistic tradition in holding that there can only be one complete substantial form in each composite, and he further
agreed with the reasons the Thomistic tradition gave in support of this view. However, Suárez disagreed with Aquinas and the Thomists in one major respect.
Aquinas had argued that all substantial forms are simple and without entitative parts, apparently on account of their function as unifiers of the composite
substance.(16) His view seemed to be that a substantial form cannot give substantial unity to a thing unless it is itself fully one. Suárez, however, held that
all substantial forms other than the human are composed of parts, and he thought these parts are incomplete substantial forms. This disagreement with the
Thomists probably is related to Suárez's view that essence and existence are not really distinct. Such a view forced Suárez to grant more independence to the
parts making up a substance, for example, form and matter, and this made him more open to the possibility that a composite substance that is truly essentially
one could be constituted out of really distinct, albeit incomplete, substantial parts.
Section 11: Metaphysical form
For the sake of completeness, Suárez rounded off his discussion of substantial form with an account of the nature and reality of metaphysical
form. Suárez noted, however, that metaphysical form, in whatever sense it is taken, is not a true form because it is not an entity which, by informing some
being really distinct from it, constitutes a complete substantial essence. Metaphysical form is, then, form only by analogy.
Suárez distinguished two sorts of metaphysical form. The first is the complete essential nature of a thing, taken as an individual. Thus, as
a human nature is constituted out of form and matter, an individual person's metaphysical form is her body informed by her soul. Such a "form," though it could
be said to give a person being, is not really distinct from the person whose form it is, and it does not constitute the being of anything by informing some
subject really distinct from it. Nevertheless, Suárez did not hold that any individual's essence is precisely identical with her since she is constituted, not
simply by her essence, but by a substantial mode terminating her essence and making it incommunicable to another in the way in which Christ's human essence was
communicated to His Divine Essence. For Suárez complete individual essence along with substantial mode constitutes the supposite or hypostasis.
The second sort of metaphysical form Suárez discussed Is logical form. This form is equivalent to the difference in a "genus-difference"
definition of a thing. Thus, in the traditional definition of human being as "rational animal," "animal" is the genus which is informed or determined by the
difference "rational." So "rational" is said to be the formal element in the definition and "animal" the material element. But, as Suárez did not believe that
universals really exist and held rather that they are mind-dependent relations, he did not think of differences as really combining with genera to form the
real essences of things. Hence, he did not regard logical form as being a form in the true sense of the word. It is rather a form only by a kind of analogy
with real, physical forms, i.e., with forms which actually exist and inform a subject really distinct from themselves." (Introduction, pp. 9-14).
(11) Whether or not Aquinas held this view, Suárez was less certain. But he was certain it was the view of the Thomists. See the present
disputation, sect. 8, para. 2.
(12) It should be noted that the existence of the form, though necessary for it to cause, is not a causal condition in the most proper sense
of the word, according to Suárez. The reason is that a causal condition must be really distinct from that of which it is a causal condition, and nothing,
according to Suarez, is really distinct from its existence.
(13) For Suárez form gives matter the property "being actualized by such and such a form," and the property "being a human body"; it does not
give it the property "being such and such a form" or the property "being the substance constituted by such and such a form and such and such matter." Thus my
soul gives my body the property "being actualized by a human form," but it does not give it the property "being a human soul" or the property "being a human
(14) On this see Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy: Vol. 2, Medieval Philosophy, Part I (Garden City: The Newman Press,
1950), pp. 304-305.
(15) Summa theologiae, Part I, Q. 76, a. 4.
(16) Summa theologiae, Part 1, A. 76, a. 8. On this matter, see Thomas Harper, The Metaphysics of the School, Vol. II (New
York: Peter Smith, 1881), pp. 655-672.
———. 1994. On Efficient Causality. Metaphysical Disputations 17, 18, and 19. New Haven: Yale University Press.
XVII: De causa efficiente in communi; XVIII: De causa proxima efficiente, ejusque causalitate, et omnibus quae ad causandum
requirit; XIX: De causis necessario, et libere seu contingenter agentibus, ubi etiam de fato, fortuna et casu.
Translated with an introduction (pp. XIII-XX) by Alfred J. Freddoso.
"Of the six disputations dealing with efficient causality, the first triad (17-19), contained in the present volume, is concerned mainly with
creaturely efficient causality, while the second triad (20-22) deals with the three modes of God's efficient causality: namely, creation, conservation, and
general concurrence. Disputations 17-19 constitute, as far as I know, the longest, most profound, and most thorough tract ever written on creaturely efficient
causality from an Aristotelian perspective. Let me briefly describe each of these disputations.
Disputation 17, entitled "On the Efficient Cause in General," provides a general characterization of efficient causality and its various
modes. In section 1 Suárez expounds and modifies Aristotle's definition of an efficient or agent cause as that "whence there is a first beginning of change or
rest," carefully distinguishing the efficient cause from the other three Aristotelian causes: namely, the formal, material, and final causes. He concludes that
an efficient cause is an extrinsic per se principle that communicates esse, or being of some sort, to an effect by the mediation of an action. In section 2
Suárez goes on to discuss the main divisions of efficient causes: namely, (i) per se versus per accidens, (ii) physical versus moral, (iii)
principal versus instrumental, (iv) univocal versus equivocal, and (v) primary versus secondary. Along the way he also makes some illuminating remarks about
the important distinction between agent causes or principles properly speaking and the sine qua non conditions required in order for those agents to exercise
their causal power.
Disputation i8, entitled "On the Proximate Efficient Cause and on its Causality and on All the Things that it Requires in order to Cause,"
deals with the metaphysics of creaturely causation in general and especially with the efficient causality proper to material substances and their accidents.
Section contains Suárez's reply to occasionalism and other theories that either deny that material substances are efficient causes at all or else severely
limit the general range of effects that can be produced by them. Sections 2-6 treat general metaphysical issues concerning the efficient principles involved in
the production of new substances and accidents. Then in sections 7-9 Suárez discusses the three most disputed sine qua non conditions for efficient causality:
namely (i) the condition that the thing acting (agent) be distinct from the thing acted upon (patient), (ii) the condition that the agent be spatially
proximate to the patient, and (iii) the condition that the agent be initially dissimilar to the patient. Having completed his treatment of the principles and
prerequisites of efficient causality, he next (section 10) takes up the ontological question of what it is that formally constitutes a substance or accident as
an actual efficient cause. Finally, in section 11 he lays out the metaphysics of destructive or corrupting efficient causality.
Disputation 19, entitled "On Causes that Act Necessarily and Causes that Act Freely or Contingently; also on Fate, Fortune, and Chance,"
turns to issues concerning causal necessity and contingency. In sections 1-3 Suárez gives a precise characterization of the distinction between causes that act
by a necessity of nature and causes that act without necessity; in addition, he takes up the disputed question of whether there could be any causal contingency
in the created world if, contrary to fact, God acted only by a necessity of nature. Sections 4-9 go into great depth on the nature of free choice and include
an extended treatment of controversial issues surrounding the relationship between intellect and will in free action. Finally, sections 10-12 take up a series
of questions concerning fate, fortune, and chance." (Introduction, pp. XVII-XIX).
———. 2002. On Creation, Conservation, and Concurrence. Metaphysical Disputations 20, 21, and 22. South Bend: St. Augustine
XX: De Prima Causa efficiente, primaque ejus actione quae est creatio; XXI: De Prima Causa efficiente, et alter ejus actione,
quae est conservatio; XXII: De prima Causa, et alia ejus actone, quae est cooperatio, seu concursus cum causis secundis.
Translation, notes, and introduction (pp. XI-CXXIII) by Alfred J. Freddoso.
"Efficient causality in the Disputationes Metaphysicae: context and overview
I will now provide an overview of Suárez's treatment of efficient causality in Disputations 17-22. My intent is to give the reader some
initial idea of the range of questions Suárez deals with and in this way to set a context within which to situate my later discussions of scholastic
metaphysics and of the disputations on divine action. I will introduce a few technical terms here, but will defer an explication of them to Parts 2 and 3 of
this introductory essay.
The treatment of efficient causality falls into the first half of the Disputationes Metaphysicae (Disputations 1-27), which treats of being
in general prior to its division into infinite being and finite being and, a fortiori, prior to the further division of finite being into substance and
accident. After the initial investigations into the nature of metaphysics in Disputation 1 and into the essential notion of being in Disputation 2, Suárez
turns in Disputation 3 to a general discussion of the transcendental properties (passiones) of being, which he identifies as one (being as undivided in
itself), true (being as an object of cognition) and good (being as an object of love and desire). Disputations 4-7 deal with oneness or unity, focusing on
individual unity (or individuality), formal unity (or universality), and the various types of distinctions among beings. Disputations 8-9 deal with truth and
falsity and Disputations 10-11 with good and evil.
It is at this juncture, in Disputation 12, that Suárez begins his treatment of the causes of being. Since metaphysical inquiry is often said
to aim at a knowledge of the principles of being, he first discusses the notion of a principle and its relation to the notion of a cause. The term 'principle',
he tells us, can be used in a wide sense to designate the first element in any sort of ordering, real or merely conceptual, and in this sense it is obviously
more inclusive than the term `cause'. However, 'principle' is used most properly in a narrower metaphysical sense to designate "that which truly and directly
communicates (influens) some sort of being (esse) to that of which it is the principle," or, in other words, that on which a real entity
depends in some way for its existence.(31) Suárez is careful to point out, however, that even on this narrower reading the notion of a principle is still
broader than the notion of a cause, since within the Blessed Trinity there is a communication of being without causality. For the Father is a true principle
eternally 'generating' the Son, and the Father and Son together are true principles eternally 'spiraling' the Holy Spirit, despite the fact that these
intraTrinitarian 'relations of origin' involve no causality, strictly speaking. The reason for this, Suárez explains, is that in these relations the
principle's own being is in no way distinct from the being of which it is the source; that is, the being (or, nature) which the Son receives from the Father is
the Father's very own being and nothing else, and the being (or nature) which the Holy Spirit receives from the Father and the Son is their very own being and
A cause, on the other hand, is a principle that communicates being or esse distinct from its own being to that of which it is a
cause.(33) And a cause's causality is just "that influence or concurrence by which a cause, within its own genus, actually gives being to the effect."(34)
These definitions are meant to apply to every Aristotelian genus of cause material, formal, efficient, and final.(35) Material and formal
causes are called 'intrinsic' causes because they do in a sense communicate their own being to the composite which they constitute by their union; however,
they satisfy the notion of a cause because the being or esse of the composite substance which results from their union is distinct from the being of either the
matter or the form. Efficient and final causes, by contrast, are wholly extrinsic to the entities to which they communicate being.(36)
)It is within this general framework that Suárez situates his tract on efficient causality, the longest and most meticulous such tract in the
history of scholasticism. Of the six disputations dealing with efficient causality, the first triad (17-19) is concerned mainly with efficient causality as
exercised by creatures,(37) while the second triad (20-22), contained in the present volume, focuses on the three modes of divine efficient causality that can
be investigated by the natural light of reason, viz., creation, conservation, and general concurrence. I will now give brief descriptions of each of these six
disputations, bearing in mind that in Parts 5-7 below I will be giving a more detailed analysis of the three disputations on divine action (20-22).
Disputation 17, entitled "On the efficient cause in general," provides a broad characterization of efficient causality and its various modes.
In Section 1 Suárez expounds and modifies Aristotle's definition of an efficient or agent cause as that "whence there is a first beginning of change or rest,"
carefully distinguishing the efficient cause from the other three Aristotelian causes. An efficient cause, he concludes, is an extrinsic per se principle that
communicates esse or being of some sort to an effect by means of an action. In Section 2 he lays out the main divisions of efficient causes, namely, (a)
per se (immediate) vs. per accidens (mediate) causes, (b) physical vs. moral causes, (c) principal vs. instrumental causes, (d) univocal vs.
equivocal causes, and (e) primary or first cause vs. secondary causes, where this last distinction is equivalent to the distinction between God as an agent and
creatures as agents. Along the way he also makes some illuminating remarks about the important distinction between an agent cause or efficient principle,
properly speaking, and the sine qua non conditions that are prerequisites for an agent's exercising its causal power.
Disputation 18, entitled "On the proximate efficient cause, and on its causality, and on all the things which it requires in order to cause,"
deals with the metaphysics of creaturely causality in general and especially with the efficient causality proper to material substances and their accidents.
Section 1 contains Suárez's reply to occasionalism and other theories that either deny that material substances are efficient causes or else put severe a
priori limitations on the range of effects that can be produced by them. Sections 2-6 treat certain metaphysical issues concerning the efficient principles
involved in the production of new substances and accidents. Then in Sections 7-9 Suárez discusses in detail the three prerequisites for efficient causality
that stand in most need of careful unpacking, namely, (a) the condition that the thing acting (agent) be distinct from the thing acted upon (patient), (b) the
condition that the agent be spatially proximate to the patient, and (c) the condition that the agent be initially dissimilar to the patient. Having completed
his treatment of the principles and prerequisites of efficient causality, he next (Section 10) takes up the ontological question of what it is that formally
constitutes a substance or accident as an actually acting efficient cause. Finally, in Section 11 he propounds the metaphysics of destructive or corruptive
Disputation 19, entitled "On causes that act necessarily and causes that act freely or contingently, and also on fate, fortune, and chance,"
turns to issues concerning causal necessity and contingency. In Sections 1-3 Suárez gives a precise characterization of the distinction between agents that act
by a necessity of nature and agents that act without necessity; in addition, he takes up the disputed question of whether there could be still be causal
contingency in the created world if, contrary to fact, God acted only by a necessity of nature. Sections 4-9 go into great depth about the nature of free
choice and include an exhaustive treatment of scholastic debates over the relation between intellect and will in free action. Finally, Sections 10-12 take up a
series of questions concerning fate, fortune, and chance.
Disputation 20, entitled "On the First Efficient Cause and on his first action, which is creation," begins in Section 1 by asking whether
natural reason can prove that creation ex nihilo is possible. Here Suárez argues that (a) there is no incoherence either in the concept of creation itself or
in the concept of the power to create, and that (b) if we assume the existence of God, we can prove that such a power in fact exists and has been exercised.
Along the way he tries to show, against the ancient philosophers, that matter is created, and he ends with an interesting discussion of whether Aristotle
himself believed in creation ex nihilo. Section 2 takes up the disputed question of whether creation requires an absolutely unlimited power, or whether instead
some creature could have the limited power to create at least some entities as a principal cause; and in Section 3 Suárez tries to answer the related, but
distinct, question of whether any creature could act as an instrumental cause in God's creative action. Section 4 investigates the ontological status of the
action of creation, an issue that will become clearer when I talk about the ontology of action in Part 3 of this introductory essay. Finally, Section 5 asks
whether creation presupposes the prior non-existence of the thing created, or whether instead it is possible that some entities should have been created from
eternity without any beginning.
Disputation 21, entitled "On the First Efficient Cause and on his second action, which is conservation," begins in Section 1 by investigating
whether natural reason can prove that created beings depend for their existence on the continual actual influence of the First Cause. Section 2 explicates the
relation between creation and conservation, while Section 3 asks whether conservation is a divine prerogative.
Disputation 22, entitled "On the First Cause, and on his third action, which is cooperation, or concurrence, with secondary causes," begins
in Section 1 by asking whether in order for a created agent to act, it is necessary that God, in addition to creating and conserving that agent along with its
causal powers, should also cooperate with it in its very acting. After concluding that the answer is affirmative, Suárez asks in Section 2 whether this
cooperation on God's part consists in his giving to the secondary cause itself some power or principle of action that it did not previously have on its own, or
whether instead God's actual cooperation has its terminus just in the effect produced by that agent. Section 3 pursues this matter further by asking how God's
concurrence is related to the secondary cause's action and to the subject of that action. Section 4 turns to the manner in which God concurs. Here Suárez tries
to show that God's manner of granting concurrence to freely acting agents must differ from his manner of grunting concurrence to naturally acting agents.
Finally, in Section 5 Suárez gripes that secondary agents do not depend essentially in their acting on any beings other than God.
With this brief overview in hand, we are now ready to look more closely at the ontological framework within which Suárez works out his
account of efficient causality in general and God's causality in particular." (Introduction, pp. XXV-XXIX).
(31) See DM 12.1.25.
(32) See especially DM 12.2.6-10. In a moment I will contrast this intra-Trinitarian communication of being with that of the 'intrinsic'
causes of creatures.
(33) DM 12.2.4-7.
(34) DM 12.2.13.
(35) Suárez also asks whether exemplar causes — that is, the ideas that serve as paradigms for intellectual agents and specify their actions
— constitute a separate genus of cause. He treats this matter at length in Disputation 25, which is devoted exclusively to exemplar causality. There he
identifies the exemplar cause as a certain antecedent condition of efficient causality that precedes the actions of intelligent agents.
(36) In Disputation 23 Suárez argues for the claim that, despite their peculiarities, final causes fully satisfy the definition of a
(37) An English translation of these three disputations is available in Francisco Suárez, On Efficient Causality: Metaphysical Disputations
17-19, translated by Alfred J. Freddoso (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994).
———. 2004. The Metaphysical Demonstration of the Existence of God. Metaphysical Disputations 28-29. South Bend: St. Augustine
XXVIII: De divisione entis in infinitum et finitum; XXIX: De Primo et increato Ente, an sit.
Translated and edited with an introduction (pp. X-XXIV) by John P. Doyle.
"A Summary of Disputation 28: (11)
As mentioned, the two Disputations that are translated in the present work open the second part of the Disputationes metaphysicae
and mark the turn from being in general to particular beings. Their concern is with, first in Disputation 28, a comprehensive division of being in general, and
after in Disputation 29, the existence of the principal member of this division, namely, that being which is God.
Disputation 28 is divided into three Sections, which ask about the legitimacy and the sufficiency of the division, as well as whether the
dividend, i.e. being, is univocal or analogous between God and creatures. In the first Section (Vives: vol. 26, pp. 1-8), the question is whether being is
rightly divided into infinite and finite being? Doubts arise from the fact that "infinite" and "finite" on their face do not appear to cover the whole range of
being but rather look to be restricted to accidental being in the category of quantity (§ 1). In addition, the terms of the proposed division seem obscure,
especially the term "infinite" (§ 2). Suárez's answer is to analyze the terms (§ 3) and then to defend the division as one that is good and necessary (§ 4) as
well as first and most evident (§ 5). It is equivalent to other divisions such as being by itself (ens a se) and being from another (ens ab
alio) (§§ 6-7) or, with clarifications, necessary being and contingent being (§§ 8-12). It is also equivalent to: essential being and being by
participation (§ 13), created being and uncreated being (§ 14), or being in act and being in potency (§§ 15-16). Suárez next compares the first division with
the rest (§ 17), explains the terms of the first division by comparison with quantity (§ 17), and closes the first Section (§ 18) with a reply to objections
raised at its beginning.
Section 2 (vol. 26, pp. 8-13) opens with reasons for doubting the sufficiency of the division. These include that fact that relations,
because they are found both in creatures and in God, seem to be neither finite nor infinite and do not therefore fit the division (§ 1). Something akin to this
occurs from the case of Christ who is both finite and infinite inasmuch as he is both God and man (§ 2).
Again, there is question regarding the free acts of the Divine Will, which would apparently be at once both contingent and necessary (§ 3).
Then there is an opinion of Duns Scotus to the effect that being should first be divided into quantified and non-quantified being, and that the division into
finite and infinite is a subdivision of quantified being (§ 4). After addressing this last opinion (§§ 5-6), Suárez goes on to defend the sufficiency of the
divisions proposed in Section 1, especially that in terms of being by itself and being from another (§ 7). He then gives extended expositions of and answers to
the difficulties proposed about relations, Christ, and Divine free acts (§§ 8-16).
Section 3 of Disputation 28 (vol. 26, pp. 13-21) begins with a rejection of the view that the term being as used between God and creatures is
simply equivocal (§ 1). A quite opposite view, which was held by Duns Scotus (1266-1308), is that being is said univocally of God and creatures (§ 2). After
explaining the reasons for this view and for its opposition to analogy in this context (§§ 3-4), Suárez himself presents an opinion that the term being is
indeed said analogously of God and creatures (§ 5), discusses arguments in support of this (§§ 6-8), and replies to objections that may be raised against these
arguments (§ 9). Subsequently, he inquires about the kind of analogy that is present here (§ 10) and rejects Cajetan's doctrine that there is "a proper analogy
of proportionality" between God and creatures (§ 11). Also rejecting any "analogy of attribution to a third thing," that is, any position that would affirm
that God and creatures are called being only by reference to something else, he next affirms that there is here "an analogy of one to another," which is to say
that creatures are being in reference to God and the term being is said more principally of God than of creatures (§ 12). At this point, he brings in the
"Platonic" opinion that God is not being but rather above being, which occasions a brief explanation of the name of God in Exodus 3,14 (§ 13). Following this,
he explains and affirms that the analogy of being here is intrinsic inasmuch as creatures are designated beings from their own intrinsic being and not just
extrinsically from God (§§ 14-17). Finally, his reply to objections and arguments in support of univocity closes the third Section and the Disputation itself
IV. A Summary of Disputation 29:
Though almost twice as long, Disputation 29 like the one before is again divided into three Sections. Section 1 (vol. 26, pp. 21-34) begins
after two introductory paragraphs (§§ 1-2) in which Suárez gives reasons for the location of the subject matter of the Disputation in this place and remarks
how he will leave aside as much as possible items which depend for their understanding on Revelation. The first Section then asks whether and/or by what means
the existence of God can be demonstrated. Among the Scholastic Doctors, Peter d'Ailly (1350-1420) has denied the possibility of such a demonstration. To this
Suárez makes the brief but revealing reply that already by the various divisions of being that have been presented in the previous Disputation the existence of
"some being which is uncreated or not produced" has been proven (§ 1). The obvious implication is that by now the existence of God has in effect been proven.
But immediately the question arises: by what means, physical or metaphysical, is this properly done? On one side, the opinion of Averroes is that the means is
physical, namely the motion of the heavens (§ 2). The contrary opinion, that of Avicenna and later of Duns Scotus among others, holds that the means must be
metaphysical (§ 3) — that is, not motion but being itself. A third and a fourth opinion hold in different ways that the task must belong to both physics, that
is natural philosophy, and metaphysics (§§ 4-5). In different ways the means would thus be both physical and metaphysical. In Suárez's judgment the second
opinion is certainly the true one but there can be some probability in the fourth position, if it is rightly explained (§ 6).
At this juncture, he examines at length the physical argument that proceeds by the medium of motion and for various reasons he finds it
wanting (§§ 7-17). Then he considers another physical argument, from the operations and the essence of the rational soul (§ 18). This too comes up short,
unless we first pose a question about the soul's being, which is a metaphysical question (§ 19). Here Suárez gives the metaphysical argument that is based upon
a broader and deeper principle than the physical one, "Whatever is moved is moved by another." The metaphysical principle is "Whatever is made or produced is
made by another" and the argument itself concludes to an unmade Maker (§§ 20-21). An objection of a possibly circular chain of causes is dismissed as every bit
as inadmissible as a thing's causing itself (§ 22). Other objections involve an infinite number of causes that would preclude any arriving at a first uncaused
or unmade cause. There are different ways to conceive such an infinity of causes. Suárez explains such ways in detail and shows their insufficiencies (§§
23-40). The first Section ends (§§ 41-42) with a brief rehearsal of and summary judgment upon the opinions listed at the beginning.
Section 2 (pp. 34-47) gets more exact and asks: whether one can show in an a posteriori way that there is only one uncreated being which will
in fact be God? The thought here is that although the basic demonstration has been displayed in the previous Section or even in the previous Disputation, it
needs precision. For it might be the case that while by now an unmade or uncreated being has been proven to exist, perhaps there is more than one such, which
would mean that we have not reached the true God, who is unique (§§ 1-2).
In a totally opposite direction is a position, which has been associated with St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), to the effect that the
existence of God is self-evident and therefore need not and in fact cannot be demonstrated (§ 3). Suárez's own view is that the existence of God can be
demonstrated but it is necessary first to be clear about what we mean by God, that is to say what it is we are attempting to demonstrate (§ 4). This he tells
us is "a certain most noble being which both surpasses all the rest and from which as from a first author all the rest depend, which, accordingly, should be
worshipped and venerated as the supreme deity" (§ 5). There are, he says, two ways to prove the existence of such a God: "one is completely a posteriori and
from effects; the other is immediately a priori, although remotely it also is a posteriori" (§ 7). In the first way, "the beauty of the whole universe and the
wonderful connection and order of all things in it sufficiently declare that there is one first being, by whom all things are governed and from whom they draw
their origin" (ibid). Four objections are that (1) this may prove that there is one governor of the world but not necessarily that there is one creator, (2)
this proof does not rule out a number of rulers who might govern the world by consensus, (3) it says nothing about spiritual beings themselves or their
connection with the present material world, and (4) this proof does not foreclose on there being another world besides this one (§ 8). Suárez goes on in
paragraphs following to answer these objections in detail. In reply to the first, he draws from the ancient Christian writer, Lactantius (ca. 240-320), the
lesson that "the universe can be governed only by him by whose counsel and power it has been created" (§ 9). He then devotes eleven paragraphs (§§ 10-20) to
further explain this in the cases of the elements, mixed bodies (more or less perfect), and especially the heavens. In this last regard, he pays special
attention to the causality between the heavens and sublunar natural things. The second objection is met through nine paragraphs (§§ 21-29) in which Suárez
argues that a number of world rulers would require that such be at once intelligent but also imperfect and liable to disagreement among themselves. The third
objection is presented in more detail (§ 30) and answered over six paragraphs (§§ 31-36) in which Suárez treats the Aristotelian separate substances. From the
motion of the heavens their existence is at best only probable, and even if they do exist they must be creatures of God. Finally, in reply to the fourth
objection, Suárez shows the reasonable character of the Christian doctrine that God is not limited to making only one world and could indeed be the creator of
any number of worlds besides this one, with the result that the objection has no force (§ 37).
Nevertheless, at this point Suárez tells us: "from this and the preceding objection I am convinced that the reasoning made to prove that
there is only one unproduced being and that all the rest of beings have been made by that being does not conclude absolutely about all beings, but only about
those which can fall under human cognition by way of natural reasoning or philosophy. Therefore, in order that the argument conclude universally, there
necessarily must be employed a demonstration a priori, which ... we will pursue in the following Section" (ibid.)
Section 3 (pp. 47-60) first affirms the impossibility of demonstrating the existence of God in a priori manner from cause to effect, since
obviously God has no cause (§ 1). Nevertheless, once He has been, in an a posteriori way, demonstrated to exist, it is possible secondarily to use a priori
demonstrations to arrive at some of his properties or attributes (§ 2). However, this is not easy to do, as Suárez shows by rejecting an argument which has
been offered to prove God's unicity on the basis that being can belong first and through itself only to a single unproduced being (§§ 3-7). He then proposes
two more arguments that purport to prove that there cannot be several beings that exist of themselves. However, objections can be made to both of these
arguments (§§ 8-10). A fourth argument, which Suárez finds "very probative," is to the effect that singularity must belong by nature to an unproduced being;
therefore such a being cannot be multiplied (§ 11). While objection may be made to this reasoning, Suárez thinks it can be defended (§ 12) and indeed, if it is
rightly understood, it may strengthen the first argument offered (§ 13). He further infers that being can belong to other things only by way of efficient
causality or effective emanation from the first unproduced being (§ 14). Suárez then considers at length a fifth argument, which he thinks is "enough by itself
and also confirms the preceding argument" (§ 15) to the effect that two or more unproduced beings could be neither the same nor diverse in species (§§ 15-22).
This leads to an explanation of a text from Aristotle that seems at variance with this (§ 23). At this point, a sixth argument is introduced to show that a
first unproduced being which is supreme and infinite in its perfection and most powerful in its acting produces "all things that are" (§ 24). An objection is
raised to the effect that if it were to produce all things it would produce itself (§ 25), which, of course, is absurd. Suárez answers that it belongs to the
perfection of that being and subsequently to its power "that it is not itself producible by itself' while all else is produced by it (§ 26). Yet another
argument can be taken, says the Doctor eximius, "from the causality of the ultimate end" (§ 27) and objections to this are raised and answered (§§ 28-31). Now
Suárez states his conclusion - "From all of this, it has been sufficiently demonstrated that God exists" - and reaffirms its metaphysical character (§ 32).
"Lastly," he says, "from all that has been said it can be clear by, so to speak, a certain most evident experience how far from truth is the opinion ... which
asserted that the existence of God is so self-evident that, for that reason, it could not be demonstrated" (§ 33). This occasions a final discussion of
self-evident propositions (§ 34) as well as of reasons that could motivate such an opinion (§§ 34-37)." (Introduction, pp. XIV-XVIII).
(11) What follows is meant to be little more than an outline. Readers are advised to look at what Suárez has to say for himself, albeit in
the present poor English version, rather than rely upon any synopsis of that.
———. 1983. On the Essence of Finite Being as Such, on the Existence of That Essence and Their Distinction (Disputatio Xxxi).
Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.
XXXI. De essentia entis finiti ut tale est, et de illius Esse, eorumque distinctione.
Translated from the Latin with an introduction (pp. 3-43) by Norman J. Wells.
"The bulk of Suárez's written work, edited as well as unedited, reflect his various teaching positions as philosopher and as theologian.
However, a number are inspired directly by his state as a religious and a member of the Society of Jesus. Still others have their origin in the legal and
political disputes of the day. The structure and contents of most of these works, their extent and quality, can be viewed with convenience in the twenty-six
(or twenty-eight) volume edition of Vivés.
A. Disputationes Metaphysicae
It is against this over-all backdrop, especially the theological tracts, that Suárez's famous Disputationes Metaphysicae must be
seen, if for no better reason than that this is the way Suarez viewed his metaphysical investigations themselves. For in both the Ad Lectorem as well
as the Prooemium to this work, Suarez indicates the occasion and purpose of his metaphysical work with explicit consideration of its relation to his
Sensitive to the pedagogical demands upon a discipline, Suarez confesses that in the course of his theological teaching, he has had to make
rather spontaneous, frequent and extensive reference to metaphysical considerations. And this was required for the simple reason that "metaphysical principles
and truths are so closely interwoven with theological conclusions and arguments, that if knowledge and full understanding of the former are lacking, knowledge
of the latter must necessarily suffer."(Prooemium, XXV, 1ab) Such asides, Suárez finds, are not only burdensome to the legentes, but
personally embarrassing, since it demanded of his hearers a blind faith in his judgment.
In addition to these immediate pedagogical problems, there are more substantive and overriding reasons presiding at the origins of the
Disputationes Metaphysicae. Suárez sees clearly that, though sacred and supernatural theology is founded upon divine illumination and principles
revealed by God, due to its human condition, such theology must utilize truths which are naturally known as well. It is in this latter area that metaphysics
proves so indispensable, for of all the sciences known to man, it comes closest to the science of divine things. Moreover, without any proper knowledge of
metaphysical problems, the Christian mysteries could scarcely be probed and discussed. In short, Suárez is convinced that "our philosophy ought to be Christian
and the servant of divine theology." (DM, Ad Lectorem, XXV).
In the matter of the internal organization of such a discipline as metaphysics, Suárez takes a stand that is significant both historically
and methodologically. For he finds himself at odds with the then current practice in the history of Western metaphysics: the medieval technique of commenting
on an authoritative text by way of the quaestio elaborated, somewhat erratically, within the context of the books of Aristotle's Metaphysics.
By way of a methodological corrective, Suarez insists that the ordo doctrinae, required and demanded by the very object of this discipline, must be
heeded in the sequence and hierarchical arrangement of problems and discussions. On this latter score, Suárez also finds himself quite disenchanted and
critical of Aristotle's own method, sequence and organization. Consequently, observing the ordo doctrinae as Suárez sees it, the Disputationes
Metaphysicae begin with an initial consideration of the object of the metaphysical enterprise, its dignity and utility. This is followed by an extensive
consideration of the meaning and significance of that object, ens, its properties and its causes. This, in turn, is complemented by a consideration of
the inferiores rationes of ens, i.e., the division of ens into c reatum-creator and further divisions including all the
special genera and grades of ens, closing with a consideration of ens rationis in Disputation 54.
B. Disputation Thirty-One
As part of this latter division, the thirty-first Disputation, comprised of fourteen separate sections of varying length, is explicitly
concerned with laying bare the structure of finite being.
The first section serves as a general introduction to the historical as well as the doctrinal dimensions of this problem. Sections two to
four constitute a more specialized introduction wherein Suarez's own basic and guiding principles are set down and established. Sections five to seven are, for
the most part, of a critical character, negatively as well as positively. The remaining bulk of the discussion, comprising sections eight to fourteen, deal
with the consequences and particular difficulties arising from the various historical traditions in this matter. Hence, they are meant to bolster and confirm,
directly and indirectly, Suárez's own principles and conclusions as well as support his negative criticisms. (Introduction, pp. 4-6, notes
———. 2006. On Real Relation (Disputatio Metaphysica Xlvii). Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.
XLVII: De relationibus realis creatis.
A translation from the Latin, with an introduction (pp. 9-35) and notes by John P. Doyle.
"Summaries of the Sections of Disputation 47.
This portion of my Introduction owes much to the summary given by Sergio Rabade Romeo and his associates in their edition with Spanish
translation of the Disputationes metaphysicae.(95) As they correctly lay it out, the Forty-Seventh Disputation can be articulated as follows:
1. Relation in general — its existence, its essence, and its division (Sections
2. Categorical Relation — its essential definition, its subject, foundation, and
terminus (Sections 5-9).
3. The Aristotelian division of relative beings, based on a threefold foundation (Sections 10-15).
4. The question of whether one relation can be the terminus of another (Section 16).
5. The structure of the category of relation (Section 17).
6. The properties of relation (Section 18).
And then descending to the different Sections in turn:
Beginning with the issue of the real existence of relation, Suárez enumerates up to five reasons for doubting such existence (paragraphs
1-7). He then presents three different opinions: (1) there are no true real relations (paragraph 8); (2) relations exist, but they do not constitute a special
category of being (paragraph 9); and (3) in created things there are real relations, which make up a proper and special category (paragraph 10). This last is
the most accepted opinion and it is demonstrated by the teachings of the Catholic Faith and by rational arguments (paragraphs 11-15).
This is the key Section, in which the reality of a relation is directly addressed. It is first necessary to clarify how a real categorical
relation is distinguished from substance and all absolute accidents in order to explain the reality and the nature of created relations (paragraph 1). In this
regard, Suárez presents and rejects four different opinions (paragraphs 2-10). He then lingers with another opinion—held by many, especially Nominalists—which
defends a distinction of reason with a basis in reality between relation and its absolute foundation (paragraphs 11-17). Next, without approving the
distinction between the "being in" and the "being toward" of a relation, he admits the indicated Nominalist opinion (paragraph 22). Finally, he answers the
arguments of the other opinions (paragraph 23) and the arguments remaining from Section 1 (paragraphs 24-25).
The Third Section treats the divisions of relation (paragraph 1). The first division is into real relation and relation of reason. It is only
real relation which constitutes the category "toward something" (paragraphs 2-5). The second division is into relation "according to being said" and relation
"according to being" (paragraphs 6-9). The third division is into transcendental relation and categorical relation (paragraphs 10-13).
Suárez tells us that it is very difficult to explain the difference between categorical and transcendental relations (paragraph 1). It is
possible to think of some differences that should be rejected (paragraphs 2-8). Others can be admitted (paragraphs 9-15). From this the inference is that the
category "toward something" includes only relations that are categorical in a proper sense (paragraph 16). The remaining paragraphs (17-21) of this Section
contain the reply to a difficulty raised in Section 1.
In this Section the Doctor eximius explains the essence and the proper definition of a categorical relation (paragraphs 1-4), and also
explains as well as resolves the difficulties which the mentioned division encounters (paragraphs 5-13).
This short Section is limited to proving that a categorical relation requires a subject, a foundation, and a terminus (paragraphs 1-6).
As was said in the just preceding Section, a categorical relation needs a foundation (paragraph 1), which in some way is distinguished from
the subject of a relation (paragraphs 2-3). This foundation can be either an accident or the substance itself (paragraphs 4-9). Although the question is
discussed, Suárez prefers not to separate a foundation from a reason for being founded (paragraphs 10-14).
For a categorical relation there is also required a real terminus (paragraph 1). But must this terminus exist in actuality? There are reasons
to doubt that (paragraph 2), and one author has thought that a terminus that is real and really existing is not necessary (paragraph 3). Suárez maintains the
contrary, and in so doing he follows the common opinion of philosophers and theologians (paragraphs 4-7). He answers the arguments of Gregory of Rimini
(paragraph 8), and he rejects the opinion that the terminus belongs to the essence of a relation (paragraphs 9-12). Finally, he affirms that not even by the
absolute power of God can a relation remain without a terminus (paragraphs 13-14).
For a real relation it is necessary that the foundation and the terminus, formally considered, be distinguished with a real distinction,
although this does not have to be equal in all cases (paragraphs 1-6).
Suárez proposes to examine the division which Aristotle has made of relation looking at a threefold foundation (paragraph 1). Having first
explained the Aristotelian doctrine (paragraphs 2-4), he raises the two main questions which arise with respect to that doctrine: (1) whether each one of the
members of the stated division is designated in a fitting manner, and (2) whether the division includes the whole range of categorical relations. With regard
to the first, there are various arguments which present difficulty (paragraphs 5-10), and the same is true with regard to the second (paragraph 11).
Nevertheless, the two questions are answered in the sense of approving the division which Aristotle has made (paragraphs 12-16).
It is necessary to answer each one of the difficulties of the preceding Section (paragraph 1). Beginning with the first class of relations,
which is founded on unity (paragraphs 2-3), it is affirmed that a relation of unity can be founded on the realities of all the categories (paragraph 4) and
there is explained the sense in which one relation can be the foundation of another (paragraphs 5-13). In passing, he explains to which class relations of
identity, similarity, and equality belong (paragraphs 14-15). The Section ends by affirming that generic unity can found a real relation (paragraphs 16-19) and
by indicating the characteristics of relations of the first class (paragraphs 20-21).
In order to treat the second class of relations (paragraph 1), the problem is tithed of whether all the relations of this class are real
(paragraph 2). Suárez replies by setting up some distinctions (paragraphs 3-4). He concerns himself then with the proximate foundation of paternity (paragraphs
5-6), and of the relation of agent (paragraphs 7-8), whether it is in act (paragraph 9) or in potency (paragraphs 10-14).
Regarding the third class of relations, founded upon the character of measure paragraph 1), Suárez presents and resolves a difficulty about
the authentic ought of Aristotle (paragraphs 2.9).
Is the Aristotelian division sufficient and adequate? (paragraph 1). To answer this question, Suárez indicates how all real relations are
reduced to the three kinds, which make up the stated division (paragraphs 2-8).
After indicating the double sense in which non-mutual relations can be taken (paragraph 1), Suárez makes a division between reciprocal and
non-reciprocal relations (paragraph 2) and raises a difficulty in their regard (paragraphs 3-7). To resolve this difficulty, he affirms that there are some
non-mutual relations, which are properly found in the third Aristotelian class of relations (paragraph 8). Then he replies to opposing arguments (paragraphs
9-12) and resolves difficulties proposed at the beginning (paragraphs 13-15). Next, he presents the opinion of the Nominalists about relations in God from time
(paragraph 16) and, against them, denies that such relations are real (paragraphs 17-29).
This Section concerns the question of whether the formal terminus of one relation is another relation or has an absolute character (paragraph
1). Having explained the title of the Section (paragraph 2), Suárez presents and explains different opinions (paragraphs 3-5). He crystallizes his thought in
the following assertions: (1) in non mutual relatives, the reason why one extreme is the terminus of the relation of the other is not a relation that is
opposite to that of the other, but the very entity itself or a property of that terminus (paragraphs 6-13); (2) In mutual relations, the raison d'être of a
terminus is also some absolute character that constitutes the formal foundation of the opposite relation (paragraphs 14-22). With this an answer is given to
the bases of the other opinions, explaining the sense in which relatives are simultaneous in nature, in knowledge, and in definition (paragraphs 23-34), and
finally treating of the termini of the divine relations (paragraphs 35-38), and of relative opposition (paragraphs 39-40).
It is proposed to treat the structuring of the category, "toward something" (paragraph 1). The first difficulty is in knowing how all
relatives can be reduced to one single genus (paragraph 2). There is accepted the possibility of one single supreme genus which includes all relatives
(paragraph 3) and there is adduced the solution which some offer to the motive for doubting (paragraphs 4-5). This solution is probable even though it supposes
a false basis (paragraph 6). Suárez affirms that the relative in general Is not in an order to another as to its correlative (paragraphs 7-8), that the
relative in general has a terminus in general which corresponds to it (paragraph 8), and that the common character of terminus does not constitute a proper
category (paragraph 10). Afterwards, he raises the question of the contraction of the supreme genus of relatives into its inferiors (paragraphs 11-14), the
question of the origin of the essential and specific difference of relations (paragraph 15), and the question of the simultaneity of various relations—which
differ only numerically—in the same subject (paragraphs 16-23). He ends the Section by rejecting an opinion about the relation that a son has with respect to a
father and a mother (paragraphs 24-28).
This is the shortest Section. It designates as properties of all relatives: not having a contrary; being susceptible of more or less;
receiving the designation of "convertibles"; being simultaneous in nature; and also being simultaneous in knowledge and definition (paragraphs 1-6)." (Introduction, pp. 28-33).
(95) Cf. Francisco Suárez, Disputaciones metafisicas, edicion y traduccion de Sergio Rabade Romeo, Salvador Caballero Sanchez y Antonio
Puigcerver Zanon, 7 vols. (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1960-1966), vol. 6, pp. 631-4.
———. 1995. On Beings of Reason (De Entibus Rationis). Metaphysical Disputation Liv. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.
Translated from the Latin with an introduction (pp. 1-56) and notes by John P. Doyle.
"B. The Prologue and Division of the Disputation:
In a brief prologue to his 54th Disputation, the Doctor Esimius notes that beings of reason are not real beings and that they are
thus excluded from the direct and proper object of metaphysics. Along with this, however, he remarks how necessary their study is and offers some justification
for their inclusion in his metaphysical work.(24) Of interest here is his assessment of them as "not true beings, but as quasi-shadows of being." As such, they
have no intrinsic intelligibility, but must be known only indirectly through other things. Immediately flowing from this is the fact that they, like Meinong's
later "homeless objects,"(25) are not of direct and primary concern for any science.
All the same, inasmuch as beings of reason are of use in a variety of sciences, they can be grasped and must be treated in some way. In fact,
Suarez believes, their treatment is exclusively the concern of the metaphysician. For, even though beings of reason have no true being, they are, as mentioned,
"shadows" of being. Like being then they have what he calls a "quasi-transcendentality,"(26) which by itself would remove them from the province of any science
other than metaphysics. It is true that more particular disciplines, such as physics or logic, sometimes treat certain beings of reason (e.g., privation, the
void, or second intentions such as species or genus) in connection with their proper scientific objects. But only metaphysics is wide enough
to consider, albeit obliquely and concomitantly with its proper object, the whole range of beings of reason as such.
After the Prologue, the Disputation splits into six Sections. Of these, the first two treat the existence, the nature, and
the causes of beings of reason. Sections 3 and 4 consider how such beings of reason are divided. As Suárez sees it, the traditional listing of negations,
privations, and relations of reason will exhaust the types that divide beings of reason. Section 5 will then more closely examine negations and privations and
Section 6 will go on to treat relations of reason." Introduction, 20-21).
(24) For this exclusion and justification, see also DM 1, s. 1, n. 6; XXV, 3-4. For Aristotle's earlier exclusion of "being as true" from the
concern of metaphysics, cf. note 10, above [See Metaphysics VI, c. 4, 1027b 34-1028a 3; ibid., XI, c. 8, 10695a 22 ff.].
(25) For this, see A. Meinong, Ueber die Stellung der Gegenstandstheorie im System der Wissenschaften (Leipzig, 1907), pp. 8-27 and
"Zur Gegenstandstheorie" in Die Philosophie der Gegenwart in Selbstsdarstellungen (Leipzig, 1923), translated as Appendix I, "Meinong's Ontology," by
Reinhardt Grossmann, in Meinong (London, 1974), pp. 224-229. Also cf. Roderick M. Chisholm, Brentano and Meinong Studies (Atlantic Highlands,
NJ, 1982), "Homeless Objects," pp. 37-52.
(26) Suárez's frequent employment of the prefix "quasi" is worth noting. Thus in the sections to follow, he will speak of "quasi-essence,"
"quasi-essential features," "quasi-essential foundation," "quasi-disposition," "quasi-difference," "quasi-passion," and a "quasi-material" cause of beings of
reason (as well as imply quasi-formal and quasi-efficient causes for them). Again, he will speak of "quasi-induction" as well as "quasi-intrinsic,"
"quasi-extrinsic," and "quasi-common" characteristics in their regard. Without pushing it, I cannot help but think of Meinong (in Ueber Annahmen
[Leipzig, 1910]), speaking of Quasi-Transzendenz (220, 228), Quasi-Wirklichkeit (224, 226, 263-4, 266), Quasibedeutung (59),
Quasiinhalt (264, 277, 286, 312), etc.
———. 2012. Selections from De Anima. Münich: Philosophia Verlag.
On the Nature of the Soul in General - On the Immateriality and Immortality of the Rational Soul.
Translated by John Kronen and Jeremiah Reedy.
Introduction and explanatory notes by John Kronen.
Table of Contents: Introduction 9; Disputation I: On the Substance of the Soul in General; Question 1: Whether the soul is act in the sense
of being a substantial form 30; Question 2: Whether and in what way the soul is first act 45; Question 3: Whether the soul possesses an essential ordination to
an organic body 65; Question 4: What the quidditative definition of the soul is and how one definition is proven through another 84; Disputation II 108;
Question 3: Whether the principle of understanding in humans is something incorporeal, subsistent, and immortal 108; Bibliography 177-188.
"Suárez's De anima, like his Metaphysical Disputations, is not a commentary on Aristotle, though Suárez, in a general way,
follows the order of topics laid out by Aristotle in his De anima, and he refers to Aristotle's seminal work with great frequency. In the first
Disputation of Suárez's De anima, translated here in its entirety, Suárez treats of living beings taken as a whole. In this Disputation he links his
psychology to his general metaphysics. This is particularly clear in the first question of the Disputation, which gives a brief proof of Aristotelian
hylomorphism, as well as giving a proof of the existence of a special class of material substances which are distinguished from other material substances in
that they are capable of immanent actions, i.e. actions which begin and end in the same substance.(9) Even plants, in this way, are "self moving" in the
actions of nutrition and growth. In the later questions of this Disputation Suárez answers questions pertaining to the nature of the substantial form (i.e. the
soul) characteristic of all living beings. Throughout the Disputation Suárez is chiefly committed to defending a substantivalist view of the nature of the soul
and, hence, of the human person, against notions of the person that adumbrate the psychological concept of it found in Locke's writings, and that echo the
ancient Buddhist "no-self" doctrine. But Suárez is equally committed to defending, against dualism, that the soul is an incomplete substance, which is by its
nature ordered to informing an appropriately disposed matter in order to constitute with it a living substance.
We have translated all of Disputation I because it casts light on how Suárez, and the Scholastics in general, understood the science of the
soul. They did not understand it to be an investigation of immaterial substances à la Descartes, because souls are not substances. They are, at best,
incomplete substances which, with matter, constitute a living organism. In this respect it might be better to speak of "the science of living beings" or even
of "biology", rather than of "the science of the soul". But even that would not be quite right either since, although the Scholastics were more interested than
is often thought with the physical structures of living beings, as well as in the essential roles these structures play in explaining the powers of living
beings,(10) they were not very advanced in these questions and, unlike most contemporary biologists, they did not conceive of the "principle of life" in living
beings as a complex set of relations between inanimate substances, but as a "thing" or res. In short, though for them the soul is an
incomplete substance, it is nevertheless an incomplete substance, not an instance of an especially complex way of arranging inanimate
substances." (pp. 16-17)
(9) For an excellent account of the Scholastic notion of "immanent action" see Des Chene, Life's Form: Late Aristotelian Conceptions of
the Soul (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), pp. 57-67. Des Chene notes that some Scholastics preferred to define living actions as "intrinsic",
i.e. such that no being other than the being doing the action could produce the effect of the action. On this definition, for example, growth would not be a
vital action since God could produce in the plant the result of the act of growing (i.e. He could produce the greater quantity), but seeing would be a vital
action since not even God could do "my seeing" for me.
(10) See Des Chene, Life's Form, pp. 34-39.