Francisco Suarez’s Philosophy of BeingJune 27, 2021
In a very important part of the Middle Ages, parallel to this, the subject on which many philosophers almost agreed is that being (ens) is not a structure that can be defined. The important reason for reaching this conclusion is that existence is the most general and simple understanding.
However, with the influence of Ibn Sina, a serious tension difference, a dynamism, emerged between the real (actual) existence and the logical existence. As it is known, Thomas Aquinas made the following determination about being in his important work called De Ente et Essentia (On Being and Essence): “As Aristotle said in the fifth book of Metaphysics, knowing that being (ens per se) in itself has two meanings. It is necessary: being divided into ten categories (per decem genera = ten genera) in one sense, and being that shows the truth in propositions in another sense. The difference between these two meanings is that in the second, anything about which a positive proposition can be made is called being, even if it has no objective counterpart. It is in this sense that deprivations (privationes) and negations (negationes) are called existence; As a matter of fact, we say “there is an opposite of denial” and “there is blindness in the eye”. But according to the first meaning, only that which has a counterpart in the realm of reality (in re: objective sense) can be called being. Therefore, blindness and things like it are not beings in this sense.” (as cited in Çotuksöken & Babür; 1989: 258).
The Latin word ens (being) is the present tense form of the verb “esse”. In this respect, Descartes’ famous saying “cogito ergo sum” is translated into Turkish as “I think therefore I am”. This is basically true; Because in the Middle Ages, it was thought that every judgment made about a person himself or anything around him also pointed to existence precisely because of this grammatical feature.
This quotation is sufficient to present the main character of the philosophical movement, which will later be understood as the Thomasian line on being. According to the philosophers, who are called Thomistae (pronounced Thomistay) (Thomasians) in the tradition, there is a clear distinction in the form of existence and essence in the limited (ens finitum) being in the physical world. (Whether this distinction is a faithful interpretation of Thomas Aquinas’ true teaching or not is a different matter of debate.) The understanding that is directly related to the above quote and opposes the duality of being (duae res) that we have just mentioned was developed by Duns Scotus. The group of those who follow the Duns Scotus philosophy is traditionally called Scotistae (pronounced Scotistay) (Scotians). Although this group basically adopted the distinction that the Thomasists emphasized, they preferred to reduce the self-existence conflict in the distinction, preferring to see the problem as a formal issue rather than a problem in reality. To put it another way, according to them, the creature exhibits an existence in reality but formally separate from essence. Thus, any being is not really separate from its essential existence; the difference between the two is a difference in style (Suarez, Dis. XXXI, 11).
Francisco Suarez did not side with either Thomistae or Scotistae. He thought that a third way would be more appropriate to understand and explain existence. As Aristotle clearly stated, being is the primary object, subject of the science of Metaphysics. However, there is no pointable aspect of being in this sense. However, as can be seen in the above quotation and the explanation that follows it, the issue of binary separation of existence can be pointed out here; In other words, it is about limited being. In that respect, first of all, it is necessary to clarify the situation of this kind of being, that is, of the created being when we refer to it in medieval terminology.
Francisco Suarez addresses this problem in his Disputatae Metaphysicae. What we think is worth pointing out is that Francisco Suarez was the first scholastic philosopher to write a metaphysical treatise in its own right. All the scholastic philosophers before him wrote comments on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. The main reason for such behavior is that almost all of them consider Aristotle to be the wisest of all philosophers, past and future. Aristotle is such a great mind that, in the opinion of many, there is no way anyone smarter than him. To verify the answers given to the questions asked by him; It is futile to investigate whether these answers are correct. Francisco Suarez embarked on a very serious business in this respect, in a way he started a serious movement that symbolized the break with tradition and its habits. We can now briefly touch on the main topics of this discussion:
Metaphysics is a science, as it has been accepted as common since Aristotle, and the subject or object of this science is ens qua ens