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Francisco Suárez

Suárez, Francisco (fränthēsˈkō swäˈrāth) [key], 1548–1617, Spanish Jesuit philosopher, b. Granada. He studied at Salamanca and was ordained in 1572. He taught successively at Ávila, Segovia, Valladolid, Rome, Alcalá, and Salamanca and in 1597 was appointed to the Univ. of Coimbra, Portugal (then under Spanish dominion). He may be called the last of the scholastic philosophers (see scholasticism). His system is mild and characteristic of the Jesuit theologians. His "congruism" is a middle course between the teachings of Luis Molina and the Dominican predestinarian teachings. Suárez taught that one may hold the same doctrine by science and faith. His teaching on the divine right of kings that earthly power is properly held by the body of men and that kingly power is derived from them so enraged James I of England that the king had Suárez's De defensione fidei burned by the hangman. This political doctrine, based on the Roman Catholic doctrine of the equality before God of all men, is a basis of subsequent Catholic teachings on democracy. Suárez was highly esteemed by Grotius and his followers. In his Tractatus de legibus he made an important distinction between natural law and international law, which he saw as based on custom.

See J. H. Fichter, Man of Spain (1940); H. Lacarte, The Nature of Canon Law according to Suarez (1964).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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