Suárez’s Influence on Descartes’s Theory of Eternal Truths

Suárez’s Influence on Descartes’s Theory of Eternal Truths

Karofsky, Amy (Hofstra University)

 Medieval Philosophy and Theology 10 (2001)


There is a philosophical problem, what I will call the problem of eternal truths, that can be stated as follows: If an unactualized, possible essence has no being and is, hence, absolutely nothing, then what grounds the eternal and necessary truth of propositions that purport to be about them? If there were no men, what would ground the necessary truth, “Man is a rational animal”? And what grounded the truth of that proposition prior to the creation of the world? (If it was in fact true at that moment?)

Su´arez and Descartes offer different solutions to this problem. Although it is generally accepted that Su´arez is Descartes’s adversary with respect to the doctrine of eternal truths, few interpretations of Descartes’s theory focus enough attention on Descartes’s reaction to Su´arez’s solution. Of the commentators who do interpret Descartes’s theory as a response to Su´arez, most work with an inadequate interpretation of Su´arez.

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