Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics [78 - 80]

simultaneously to discuss in an appropriate manner all the questions belonging to the twelve books of Aristotle's Metaphysics. In contrast to earlier scholasticism, Suarez indeed saw that the twelve books of Aristotle form a whole that is inherently disordered, although he did not realize that this book is not one written by Aristotle, but a compilation of treatises put together by his students. He sought to overcome this disorder by giving the main problems a systematic order. Independent discussion of the whole area of the problem with respect to natural theology goes back to Suarez, whereas in Aquinas there was only an application of metaphysical thoughts, as well as the commentary on Aristotelian metaphysics. By contrast, Suarez first undertook an independent development of the metaphysical problem which was of particular influence especially for the beginning of modern philosophy, for Descartes. Descartes, who studied in the Jesuit school of La Fleche and attended lectures on metaphysics, logic, and ethics there, became thoroughly acquainted with Suarez, whom he consulted time and again even during his later period.

We wish to clarify for ourselves one of the aims of this significant work which has not yet been exhausted by far. In the preface, the Prooemium to his Disputationes metaphysicae, Suarez says: Ita enim haec principia et veritates metaphysicae cum theologicis conclusionibus ac discursibus cohaerent, ut si illorum scientia ac perfecta cognitio auferatur, horum etiam scientiam nimium labefactari necesse sit .1 By this he means that metaphysical truths are so necessary for proper theological knowledge that if they are disregarded, theology proper, in the sense of the theology of revelation, threatens to become all too insecure. Suarez explicitly emphasizes that he is here excluding all questions pertaining merely to logical problems: quae vera ad puram philosophiam aut dialecticam pertinent (in quibus alii metaphysici scriptores prolixe immorantur ), ut aliena a praesenti doctrina, quoad fieri possit, resecabimus .2

The first Disputatio treats: De natura primae philosophiae seu metaphysicae, of the essence of First Philosophy or metaphysics. Suarez begins in the introduction3 by discussing the various designations of metaphysics (varia metaphysicae nomina), and does so with independent recourse to Aristotle. Here he finds that metaphysics is designated as sapientia (σοφία.) , as prudentia (φρόνησις), then as prima philosophia (πρώτη φιλοσοφία), then as natura/is theologia (θεολογική)—which Suarez here interprets in a sense quite unlike that of antiquity ( quoniam de Deo ac divinis rebus sermonem habet, quantum ex naturali lumine haberi potest 4)--and finally as metaphysica.

1. Suarez, Disputationes Metaphysicae. Prooemium. Opera Omnia. Ed. C. Berton (Paris, 1856ff.). Vol. XXV, p. 1.

2. Ibid.

3. Suarez, Disputationes Metaphysicae. Disp. I. Ibid., pp. 1ff.

4. Ibid., p. 2 .