Francisco Suárez on the Addition of the One to Being and the Priority of the One over the Many: A Journal of Analytic Scholasticism

Studia Neoaristotelica 4 (2):158-172 (2007)
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Suárez’s solution to the problem of the conceptual Addition of the One to being follows firstly the Aristotelian-Averroistic tradition mediated by Aquinas. According to this tradition, the One adds to being only a negative determination. Suárez claims that the One does not signify any positive perfection either really or conceptually distinct from being as such. Suárez’s own solution to the problem is presented in a critical discussion with many different conceptions, but Suárez pays most attention to the theory of certain, mainly Franciscan, authors who hold that the One adds to being a positive perfection which is only conceptually distinct from being as such. The main argument for this thesis is based on the assumption that indivision is to be taken as a double negation, by which an affirmation is expressed. This concept of indivision was, according to Suárez, also defended by Aquinas, who holds that the negation which is expressed by the One negates the division of one being from another. Suárez rejects this solution and proposes his own conception, according to which the One does not negate the negative moment of the division of one being from another, but the positive moment of an essential division of a being in itself. The One thus negates a real positive division of being in itself. On the basis of this theory, Suárez further rejected Aquinas’s conception of a conceptual priority of the One over the Many, which was put forth as an answer to the old Aristotelian problem of a privative opposition between the One and the Many. Suárez defends the real priority of an indivision over a division as well as a real and conceptual priority of the One over the Many. Suárez’s conception seems to us to be compatible with his concept of a negative Addition of the One to being.



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David Svoboda
Charles University, Prague

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