- Suarezismus. Erkenntnistheoretisches aus dem Nachlass des Jesuitengenerals Tirso Gonzáles de Santalla (1624-1705)
Two terms in this book's title, while not strictly incorrect, have the potential to mislead about its content: 'Suarezismus' and 'Erkenntnistheoretisches.' The primary subject of the book is Tirso Gonzáles de Santalla, a seventeenth-century Spanish Jesuit. While Gonzáles played a role in the formation of an institutional Suarezianism, in some ways he would be better designated a Vazquezian than a Suarezian, as Sven K. Knebel himself notes. As a result, there is just as much in this book to interest the scholar concerned with Gabriel Vázquez's legacy as the scholar interested in Francisco Suárez's legacy. As for 'Erkenntnistheoretisches,' a reader raised on canonical early modern discussions might expect to read about such classic epistemological topics as skepticism and justification. Knebel's focus, however, is on psychologism and theories of judgment.
Insofar as Gonzáles is known at all, it is as the thirteenth Superior General of his Order and as an ardent opponent of the probabilism dominant among his confreres. Knebel aims to bring to light a hitherto unknown side of Gonzáles: that of a philosopher addressing central metaphysical and epistemological questions of the day.
Knebel's primary source for this side of Gonzáles is two Latin manuscripts containing disputations that Gonzáles dictated early in his career. The second half of this book consists of an edition of selected disputations from these manuscripts. Included are ones on some of the central topics that occupied early modern scholastic philosophers: distinctions, truth and falsity, chimeras (or impossible beings), negative facts, judgment, and syllogism. As Knebel notes, some of these topics distinguish scholastic philosophers from their opponents, whose dismissive attitude is summed up in a minor eighteenth-century English work: "Ens rationis! What is that! It is a whimsical, fantastical Nothing, existing only in the brains of schoolmen" (246). Those of us familiar with the importance of empty terms to contemporary theorizing may be more sympathetic to Gonzáles's concern with chimeras. In addition to its value as sophisticated disputation of these interesting philosophical questions, Gonzáles's work is valuable for seeing how the early modern scholastic discussion of these questions evolves from the two fathers of Jesuit philosophy, Suárez and Vázquez, through Pedro Hurtado de Mendoza, Rodrigo de Arriaga, and Francisco de Oviedo, all names figuring regularly in Gonzáles's discussions. One can only wish that the philosophical community had so thoroughly mined the riches of the early modern scholastic texts long readily available that it was desperately awaiting this new mine.
The third chapter of the first half of the book provides introductions to each of the aforementioned disputations. Most are quite short, but the introduction to the disputation on chimeras is a noteworthy 24-page essay in its own right. The remaining chapters include an essay on theories of judgment in the modern period with special attention to Jesuit theories, one on Vázquez and psychologism, several on Gonzáles as a theologian, philosopher, and political figure (responding in those roles to the movements of his day such as Cartesianism, probabilism, and Suarezianism), one on the Jesuits and the Enlightenment, and, in conclusion, a compelling case for the historiographical rehabilitation of early modern scholasticism. In the first essay, Knebel points to the "striking concord" between Locke's famous formula "the perception of the connexion and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our ideas" (8) and Vázquez's less-famous "the cognition of the agreement or disagreement and repugnancy of one thing with another in a proposition" (45). Of course, Locke is defining knowledge and Vázquez judgment; for Locke, knowledge rests on perception, but judgment rests on presumption (An Essay concerning Human Understanding, IV.xiv.4). But Knebel takes this concord as evidence that there is a yet-unlearned valuable background to famous later disputes about judgment and...