Author: Mário Santiago de Carvalho
Part of: The ‘Cursus Conimbricensis’ (coord. by Mário Santiago de Carvalho)
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Published: September, 11th, 2020
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.4023958

The latest version of this entry may be cited as follows: Carvalho, Mário Santiago de, “Manuel de Góis”, Encyclopedia, Mário Santiago de Carvalho, Simone Guidi (eds.), doi = “10.5281/zenodo.4023958”, URL = “”, latest revision: September, 11th, 2020.


Manuel de Góis (Emmanuel a Goes, in Latin) was born in Portel (southern Portugal, Alentejo province) in 1543. He was the son of João Vagueiro and Maria Álvares. As a child, Góis might have heard of Manuel Fernandes’s death in 1555, a Jesuit priest whose fame, eloquence, and virtue left a living mark in the Alentejo (Rodrigues 1931: 672). Góis is said to have joined the Society of Jesus on August 31, 1560. According to the historian of the Society of Jesus Franco (1714: 873), at the age of twelve (circa 1555) Góis fled to Castile, where he took four years of Latin and Rhetoric plus two years of Philosophy (circa 1561). According to other versions, after a period of training at the University of Évora and the Coimbra College of Arts, he finished his Philosophy and Theology studies at the University of Évora (Rodrigues 1931: 459). If we follow Franco’s narrative, there is a slight possibility that on July 19, 1562, he had welcomed his brother, Gaspar de Góis, fourteen-years-old, as a novice in Évora. Gaspar de Góis will end his life as a martyr, along with Pedro Dias, during their sea journey to Brazil. However, if we follow Rodrigues’s narrative, Pedro da Fonseca, Sebastião de Morais, Pedro Gómez, or Marcos Jorge are likely candidates for having been his teachers in the Arts course. Manuel de Góis surely met Luis de Molina in Coimbra, though we know that Molina did not appreciate him very much (see below § 2.1.). He could also have met the mathematician Pedro Nunes and the physician Tomás Rodrigues da Veiga on the occasion of their visit to the university (1556). Góis’s quotations of Veiga’s works suggest that he might have been acquainted with him. The good relations between Veiga, who owned the Chair of Prima in Medicine for more than twenty years (1557/79), and the Society of Jesus were very well known up to the point of becoming engraved on Portuguese literature by the renown 17th century Jesuit António Vieira, as “Magnus Thomas” (Rodrigues 2003: 172). It is said that Manuel de Góis taught Humanities (Latin and Greek) in the Jesuit Colleges of Bragança, Lisbon, and Coimbra (1564-72). We know for sure that he was in Coimbra already in 1568. Immediately after these eight years of teaching humanities in the Coimbra College of Arts, Góis is said to have been teaching two complete philosophy courses at the same College (1574-78 and 1578-82); note, however, that in 1574, due to illness, Góis was replaced by Francisco Pereira who in 1576 read theology and later became provincial (see Carvalho 1927). Dating from the last year of Góis’s Coimbra period as a master of the College of Arts (1582), Santos (1955a: 563) reports a “thesis” on metaphysics, questioning if the intellect or the will instead, would be the highest human faculty, “Utrum intellectus sit potentia nobilior voluntate” (on this kind of literature, see Gomes 1961). This subject matter will be later addressed by Góis in his commentaries on De Anima and Ethica. Surely, that long teaching period gave him the necessary expertise to take into his own hands the philosophical achievement which made him famous, viz. the main responsibility for the composition of the Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu (hereafter: Coimbra Jesuit Course). In August 1568, Góis writes the mandatory annual letter to Rome, depicting how the Jesuits took care of convicted Jews during their trial and condemnation to death (Rodrigues 1938a: 510). On January 1, 1569, he praises very much Luís da Cruz’s tragicomedy Pródigo, a play he watched in Coimbra in May 1568, while being a lecturer of Latin and Greek. In the letter, he witnesses the general commotion of the entire audience: “omnes incredibili voluptate perfusi sunt (…). Atque haec fere omnia cunctis spectatoribus lachrymas executiebant…” (see Rodrigues 1938b: 78-9). According to his testimony, Góis eyewitnessed the supernova Cassiopeia, in 1572, in Coimbra (In de Caelo I c. 3, q. 1, a. 4, p. 61). As mentioned, the experience of eight years teaching the arts could have been the catalyst to his assuming a prominent role in the edition of the Coimbra Jesuit Course that he began to write during the 1580s and whose first volume was published in Coimbra in 1592. As a matter of fact, on August 14, 1585, Sebastião de Morais reports to Rome that Góis is finishing the De Generatione, and we know that he wrote it after completing a more substantial work, i.e. the commentary on the Physica. Historian of the Society Rodrigues (1938a: 115) dates the beginning of the composition of the Coimbra Jesuit Course by Góis in 1582/83, but other historians date its redaction back to 1581/83 (Santos 1955b and 1955c). On April 2, 1591, acting on behalf of the College of Jesus, Pedro Gonçalves signs, with António de Mariz, the agreement to take forward the printing of “Dos físicos”, i.e. the Physica, by Góis. He witnessed the publication of all his contributions except the volume on the De Anima. Still, according to Franco (1714: 874), when the De Generatione came out from the press (1597), Góis had already died. As we have written for this Encyclopaedia, in the “Editorial History” of this particular title, the commentary on the De Generatione belongs to the second phase of Góis’s work but was published only in the third phase. We do not have any explanation either for the delay affecting the publication of On Generation and Corruption, or for the fact that this is the more carelessly edited of all titles of the Coimbra Jesuit Course. Manuel de Góis death occurred in Coimbra, on February 13, 1597, at the age of fifty-five.


Seven of the eight titles that integrate the Coimbra Jesuit Course (1592-1606) constitute Manuel de Góis’s major philosophical achievement. With a total of two thousand six hundred and twenty-two printed pages (Andrade 1957), they comment the following Aristotle’s major works: Physica (Coimbra, 1592), Meteororum (Lisbon, 1593), Parva Naturalia (Lisbon, 1593), Ethica (Lisbon, 1593), De Caelo (Lisbon, 1593), De Generatione et Corruptione (Coimbra, 1597) and De Anima (Coimbra 1598). Except for the volumes on Meteororum and Parva Naturalia, which are stylistically closer to “textbook”, and for the volume on Ethics, belonging to the literary genre known as “disputation”, all other titles are regular commentaries. They adopted the working method recommended by Pedro da Fonseca on January 6, 1574, while being in Rome (see Fonseca 1964: 15; Carvalho 2020a). Later on, on August 29, 1582, Luís de Molina will also flag this specific Fonseca’s “epistemological” or “methodological turn” by reporting it to the general Acquaviva. Manuel de Góis’ Coimbra Jesuit Course benefited from the cooperation of at least three more other Portuguese Jesuits, Cosme de Magalhães, Baltasar Álvares, and Sebastião do Couto. Other Jesuits were involved in the process as a whole. For instance, based on a letter written to the general Acquaviva by the English mathematician Richard Gibbons, dated from January 15th, 1592, Baldini (1998: 229) has conjectured that while lecturing mathematics in Coimbra (1590/91) Gibbons had an intervention in the final proofreading of the Physica. Anyway, Luis de Molina accused Manuel de Góis of having copied his work. This accusation plus the working method used to compose the Coimbra Jesuit Course, meaning the existence of various manuscripts circulating among the Colleges (and notably between Évora and Coimbra) that were at the hand of all masters raise some concerns about Góis’s originality. However, Molina’s manuscript is quite different from Góis’s final product, and here we follow Gomes’s opinion, which points to the conclusion that Góis’s work is entirely “… original in its genre. Even the usual common doctrines and opinions were duly measured and appropriated by him during his long lecturer experience. As regards the rest of his work all the following aspects can be considered as strictly personal: the edition of the text with the explanatory notes, the structure of the subject matter, the definition and development of the questions, erudition, and style. And this is so much true that contemporary or previous courses that reproduce the lecturer’s lessons are unrecognizable in the texts that were actually printed” (Gomes 2012: 165). It could be remembered, for Góis’s sake, that implicitly alluding to Aristotle’s Eth. Nic. I 4 (1096ª14-17) while commenting on De Generatione (I c. 4, q. 24, a. 2, p. 187), Góis clearly stresses the difference between pursuing the truth of one doctrine and the mere attachment to an authority (doctor). The pace of the publication of the Coimbra Jesuit Course is more or less known to us, and it is possible to follow it by reading the Historical Notes (“Editorial History”) written for this Encyclopaedia as well our article on the “Cursus Conimbricenses” (Carvalho 2019a). It is worth pointing out that the Coimbra Jesuit Course is not devoted to the complete works of Aristotle. The Logica and the Metaphysica are the glaring omissions. The opinions usually given to explain this omission are inexact because we know that at some point Góis conceived the idea of writing a commentary on Logic (see De Anima III c. 4, explanatio, p. 317, and c. 6, explanatio, p. 362, and c. 8, q. 6, a. 2, p. 393) as well as a commentary on Metaphysics (see Carvalho 2020b: 288-9). Góis believed that, due to pedagogical reasons (e esto ade ser mas accepto en las escuelas), the book on Logic ought to be briefer than the book on Metaphysics (see Gouveia’s letter of 1594 in Gomes 1964: XLIX). For several times, Góis alludes to his intention of writing on Metaphysics: see De Generatione I c. 4, q. 6, p. 70, II c. 9, explanatio, p. 472, and De Anima II c. 1, q. 7, a. 3, p. 83, and Physica I c. 1, q. 1, a. 1, p. 54, II c. 7, q. 15, a. 2, p. 310, and Ethica d. 7, q. 3, a. 2, p. 66 (see Carvalho 2018: 154-5). A letter from Francisco de Gouveia to the general in Rome, written three years (December 1594) before Góis’s death, says that he was already making references to the Metaphysics. This letter mentions the name of Manuel Roiz, siding with Góis and wishing that the composition of that commentary was carried out by Góis instead of Fonseca (see Gomes 1964: XLIX). Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the omission of a volume on Metaphysics. All the same, the most likely reasons are the lack of time needed to finish this monumental project and the disagreements between Pedro da Fonseca and Manuel de Góis concerning the exposition of philosophy. In that letter by Gouveia we have been dealing with it is explicitly said that, contrary to Fonseca’s novelties (Fonseca tiene muchas opinions contra la comum), Góis’s theses were much more acceptable (y el Pe. Goes va com las recebidas en las escuelas y refuta en lo que esta ympreso algunas opinions del P. Fonseca sin nombrarle por le guardar el devido respecto). Some particularities can be found in Góis, despite his praised “orthodoxy”, the most notable being that natural philosophy should be the privileged way of accessing philosophy. Such an outlook would clash with Fonseca’s view, for already in 1574 Fonseca had stated that: “… All philosophy students must be familiar with the works on first philosophy (so-called Metaphysics) because besides offering a careful discussion of the common difficulties involved in other philosophical works, they are often cited by the professors. Therefore I thought this was the easiest method for me to write and the easiest for the students to understand, especially if I decide to expose beforehand themes containing all the principles and fundamentals of philosophy. In fact (…) when such fundamentals are established and strengthened, the other themes are more accessible to students (…) and for me, it is more convenient, and [the fundamentals] can soon be developed.” (see Gomes 1964: 13-15). Immediately after the publication of the Physica, the work of Góis was widely criticized. Likely, the wave of criticism never stopped but only on November 8, 1602, Sebastião do Couto begins to revise Góis’s commentary. This revision had not yet been finished in 1619 but might have been really concluded, for in 1658 Manuel Tinoco asks permission to publish Couto’s work (Couto had died in 1639).

Molina’s and Fonseca’s issues with Góis

To access the originality of Manuel de Góis’s work, one must tackle the issues that Luis de Molina and Pedro da Fonseca had, at some point, with their Jesuit companion. Let us start with Molina, eight years older than Góis. Being both undergraduate students, when the existence of a few dictations in condition to be published was first announced (1560), neither Molina nor Góis could have been involved in them. The more likely candidates for what could have been a first draft of those dictations are Pedro da Fonseca, Marcos Jorge, and Pedro Gómez. Things change in the second phase of this process (circa 1575) that pertains to the pre-history of Góis’s involvement in the Coimbra Jesuit Course, since Manuel de Góis was already teaching arts in Coimbra. With a previous and more consolidated experience, Luís de Molina was then in Évora reading Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae. In 1575 and 1576 the provincial Manuel Rodrigues insists on publishing the texts (postilas) in use at Coimbra College. Giving the teaching method we have alluded above, nothing forbids us to think that, in his lectures, Góis used materials by Molina (or by any other teacher, i.e. Fonseca, Gómez or Jorge but also by Sebastião de Morais, Manuel Rodrigues, Nicolau Gracida, Inacio de Tolosa, etc). As a matter of fact, Góis quotes Molina’s Summa (Iª q10 a5 d1), as well as De Concordia (q14 a13 d26), in two places of his published Course: the Commentaries on the De Generatione (GcIIc11q2a3p499) and on Physica (PhIIc7q12a2p304), respectively. One thing is certain, in 1579 the provincial congregation asks the general Everard Mercurian for the necessary permission to publish the extant materials. Only with the newly elected general, Claudio Acquaviva, was the order issued to the newly elected provincial, Sebastião de Morais, to go ahead with the publication. It must be mentioned that Fonseca was then still in Rome and, while in there, he had expressed (1574) his wish to return to Portugal to finish the work firstly assigned to him, much earlier (1561), by Jerome Nadal. Furthermore, it has been maintained (Santos 1955c: 465) that Fonseca had taken with him to Rome Molina’s manuscripts. Meanwhile, the second edition of Fonseca’s Dialectical Instructions is published (1575) followed by the first volume of his commentary on Metaphysics (1577). Between 1579 and 1583, Luis de Molina will do everything he can to see his contributions published but it seems it was too late. Historian Gomes (2012: 165) sees Molina’s pretension to being the actual author of the course as his immediate response to the situation between 1579 (Mercuriano’s final decision) and 1581 (Acquaviva’s confirmation). Based on a letter by Luís de Molina (March 6, 1583) in which he complains that the course was a poor version of his work, historian Rodrigues (1938a: 115) asserts that Góis took Molina’s course as a model, viz. “foi esse curso que serviu de base ao trabalho de Góis”. Nevertheless, as we mentioned, historian Gomes is not so assertive. Let us then consider the issue from another angle. If one takes Molina’s words literally, it seems that by 1583 Góis had finished (or almost finished) his work. This allows us to conjecture an early date for the beginning of the Coimbra Jesuit Course (Carvalho 2018: 17). When we say “work” (such as when Molina said “course”) this is by no means to be interpreted as a “complete course”, at least such as we know today the Coimbra Jesuit Course. As it is well known, not even this one has ever been completed. Neither Molina nor Góis has managed to write an entire course. In the case of Góis, everything seems to suggest that at least the Physics could have been commented and, given that we know nothing about Molina’s manuscripts that Fonseca allegedly took with him to Rome, based solely on the manuscripts extant in Évora (BPE 118/1-6), Molina has commented only Logics and Ethics. This is quite interesting, for it is possible that Fonseca, Molina, and Góis were facing the inception of the Cursus from different angles, logic/metaphysics, logic/ethics, and natural philosophy, respectively. But was Molina referring to one commentary by Góis on Logic we know nothing about? And, what can be deduced from a comparison between the texts on Ethics by Góis and Molina? To our knowledge, no-one has ever tried such a work of comparison. Also, it is interesting to note that a kind of a Leuven and Franciscan influence – notably, of Francis Titelmans O.F.M. – in the Coimbra Jesuit Course as been hypothesized (Santos 1955d: 477; yet see Carvalho 2010a: 19). However, neither Fonseca’s nor Molina’s subjects would comply with the structure of Titlemans’s De consideratione rerum naturalium (1530). In a letter of August 29, 1582, to Acquaviva, reporting a situation triggered almost twenty-nine years earlier – remember that in 1553 Molina had arrived to Coimbra – , Molina gives the following indications: (i) he began teaching the arts (1563) thanks to Fonseca’s involvement (en gran parte procure que yo leiese el curso de artes); (ii) Fonseca ordered him to write his lessons down (para que pusiese por escrito mis conceptos); (iii) in the Dialectical Instructions Fonseca seeks to diverge from Molina’s views on Logic (porque haziendo la dialectica y quiriendose apartar de lo que lo avia dicho); (iv) between the Dialectical Instructions and the Metaphysics Fonseca changed his method (tomó pasarse a la metaphysica, y tomar otro metodo); (v) Fonseca dislikes Molina and does not apreciate his theses (sento en el Padre Afonseca aversion y desfavor a mis cosas); (vi) while in Rome, Fonseca would obstruct any Molina’s attempt to publish his course (en quanto estuviese en Roma avia de estorvar que se imprimiesen); (vii) another reason for the obstructions: Molina was seen as foreigner (parece que por estrangero), although this should be untenable, he observes, for not only was he with in Portugal for twenty-nine years, and saw himself as the result of having lived together with his Coimbra companions (pues a veinte y nueve anos que estoy y me crié entre ellos). Molina’s confession is interesting, for (i) it explains, probably due to philosophical stances, the growth of a hostile environment (Santos 1955c), (ii) confirms that Fonseca assumed a role of authority during his Roman period, and (iii) provides evidence that the Coimbra Jesuit Course was conceived progressively as an exclusively national philosophical contribution (Santos 1955c). Let us now move on to a closer inspection of the way Góis was seen by Fonseca. As is already evident, Pedro da Fonseca never left the set, as far as Molina, as well as Góis, are concerned (Carvalho 2020a). Fonseca’s return to Portugal in 1582 coincides not only with the year in which Molina wrote the letter examined above but also with the year in which Góis could have completed the commentary on Physics. Soon (1583) the commentary on the De Generatione will be finished as well. Góis was thus the new player to enter this complex situation, not exempt from tribulation but with evident success: Góis does publish, in 1592, the work begun ten years earlier. In the meantime (April 1584) Molina kept complaining that some of his companions questioned his proficiency in Latin, and was still causing an embarrassment (1589), according to João Correia. Moreover, as per Molina, Fonseca was busy with his administrative duties plus keeping up with the commentary on Metaphysics, volume II. Finally, Fonseca seems to throw in the towel the year the second volume of the Metaphysics is published (1589), for he admits his incapacity to deliver the work he was commissioned with by Jerome Nadal twenty-eight years earlier. Still, the publication of Fonseca’s Isagoge (1591) almost coincides with that of Góis’s Physica (1592). In January, 1592, he is already questioning Góis’s work and personality or ambition (la sed que este padre tiene). To be precise, on January 25, 1592, Fonseca alludes to Góis’s sadness, motivated by the fact that his authorship of the Coimbra Jesuit Course had not been recognized (todo su sentimiento es no salir esta obra en su nombre, y sin esto ninguna cosa lo contentará, y siempre hará por mostrarse en todas occasiones autor della; see Rodrigues 1938a: 116, 120). And Fonseca is not the only one. Six months later, on July 31, 1592, in a curious letter, João Álvares sides with Fonseca and criticizes Góis. Indeed, in the Fall of 1591 the Physica was already in the Press, and 1592 is no less than the year of the publication of this first volume of the Coimbra Jesuit Course. Furthermore, in 1592 Álvares still insists that Fonseca ought to be the author of the Course, addressing logic and metaphysics. This indicates that (i) Góis’s book was fought almost up to the very verge of its publication, (ii) an independent book on Metaphysics, a briefer version, was being conceived, and (iii) Fonseca’s existing printed books on Logic were never meant to replace the absent volume on that same subject matter in the Coimbra Jesuit Course. At the end of 1594, when Fonseca’s volume III on Metaphysics is concluded, he is said to have in hands another volume on that matter in a digest version (del compendio desta otra parte que se va haziendo). According to some accounts, Pedro Luis assisted Fonseca. Such a strategy would, of course, have been significantly disparate, because Góis, instead, chose to address philosophy through the lens of physics. If in December 1596 Fonseca seems to be pleased with the status of the Coimbra Jesuit Course – all the books of Góis’s second phase of publication had been released (1593) and the third (1597, 1598) was well advanced – already on October 23, 1591, he had been obliged to give his formal “nihil obstat” on behalf of the Society of Jesus. This must be stressed because if, on the one hand, he does it (surely by duty), on the other, he seems to be throwing cold water on Góis’ success. Was Fonseca finally convinced? In all fairness, here is a query no one will be able to solve.

Manuel de Góis’s three main philosophical themes

An attempt to systematically read Manuel de Góis’s entire contribution to the Coimbra Jesuit Course was led for the first time by Carvalho (2019b) and yet another global incursion into Góis’ entire philosophical work is carreid out in this Encyclopaedia (section 1.1.). For this reason, in what follows a different methodological orientation will be pursued. Seemingly, Góis’s major contribution directly touches on the following three subject matters that received his Jesuit hermeneutical twist.


Manuel de Góis has thoroughly and extensively written on physics (Casalini 2012, Des Chene 1996 and 2000). In his view, the key meaning of “nature” matches that of “physis”. Nature does nothing in vain, abhors all that is superfluous and does not reject that which is necessary. Moreover, nature is fair because it gives to each thing what belongs to it, not according to arithmetic equality (aequaliter), but according to geometric uniformity (aequabiliter). It is important to bear in mind that the praise of nature does not present an entirely Aristotelian orientation, but it is also Saint Augustine and Gregory Nazianzen who sustain it; recommending beauty and stability, and connecting heaven and earth, the stress put on the praise of nature accentuates the teleological motive that brings nature to its full realization in the supernatural state. Nature provides a kind of knowledge that is particularly directed at the world (scientia de mundo). The whole structure of this knowledge is, of course, Aristotelian. However, such knowledge is a matter of urgency, since in the 16th century several authors deformed nature or denied the possibility of attaining a strict and rigorous knowledge of it. Without explicitly alluding to contemporary more or less skeptical authors and philosophical trends, Antonio Bernardi’s debates on the epistemological structure of Aristotelian science constitute one of these contemporary instances, often refuted by Góis. Being structurally Aristotelian, natural philosophy ought to be exposed in such a way that the main Aristotelian works could meet the basic concepts of physics: firstly, the broadest principles, such as motion, rest, matter, form, privation, nature and its causes, unity, species and parts of the motion, infinity, place, void and time, plus the first Mover and its properties (Physica); secondly, the study of mobile being, structure and composition of the universe, the five simple bodies, the four elements, their corresponding natural spaces and type of local motion (De Caelo); thirdly, the study of the corruptible dimension of the universe, generation, change, growth, mixed bodies (De Generatione et Corruptione), as well as imperfect mixed bodies (Meteororum); and at last, life, first in a broader sense (animal life), then in its most perfect expression or human life (De Anima and Parva Naturalia). Góis paid attention to all of these titles, and in all he recognized an order derived from God’s “presence”, either because God is the true maker of nature, or because there is an ontological rule (the “Pseudo-Dionysius’s rule”) that permeates all of nature. Pseudo-Dionysius’ rule comes in its specific version (De Coelo II c. 1) as follows: the flower of the elements of the lower world is contained in the celestial body, just as the dregs of the upper world are tobe found in the lower world. This overwhelming and pervasive Neo-Platonism is expressed by Góis’s in two major dimensions; let us call them “mathematical” (Saint Augustine), and aesthetical (Saint Bonaventure). Just an example: deriving, like numbers, from unity (God is One), the entire multiplicity of world forms embellishes “the theatre of the world” (an expression also found in De Caelo). More than individuals, species express the perfection of all nature with greater ease. Yet, it is admitted that the conflict between the elements of a contrary physical nature does not disturb the order of the universe, and is required for its maintenance. The correlation between the elements and the variety of their linkages is expressed in a way whereby the first qualities are inserted into each element in a coherent discordant agreement, and reimbursement of expenditures, thus ensuring the balance of the sublunary world and its harmony. If there is in this subject matter some sort of unorthodox Aristotelianism, it is the place occupied by the exemplar cause, an item certainly grounded on Pedro da Fonseca (Carvalho 2009b). Fonseca’s doctrine on imaginary time and space is also acknowledged by Góis (Carvalho 2020c; Alves 1998; Carvalho 2001c). Repeatedly, Góis dwells on God’s power (the topic de potentia) to discuss and frame the boundaries of research into nature. Just one example: when questioning whether the infinite in act is within God’s power, Góis acknowledges his preference for the proposal that denies it. Such a probabilistic accent may be a sign that there is a crisis in tradition (Dinis 1991) but this issue has never been studied systematically. Furthermore, a close and thorough inspection of all physical mathers here and there linked to Duns Scotus’s heritage (and Ockham’s to a lesser extent) will certainly pay off. According to some interpreters, in other cases far more related to key conceptions of cosmology, such as the distinction between heavenly matter and the matter of the sublunary world in specie (Randles 1995, Carolino 2003: 50-57), and “perhaps without realizing the enormous consequences of doing so” (Dinis 1991: 555), Góis’s adoption of the traditional cosmological interpretation did not keep him from assuming as probable that the matter of the heaven and that of the sublunary world might be the same. None of this theological and creationist input (we use here “creationist” in Tresmontant’s (1962) sense) seems to underscore the autonomy of the natural order, a dimension that certain interpreters have already dealt with (under different perspectives, though; see Hattab 1998; Casalini 2012: 241ff; Martins 1996). Faithful to Thomas Aquinas’s rendering of Aristotle’s general cosmological ideas – see, for instance, the relevance of circular movement, “principle of all motions, the divine light of all material qualities, endowed with such efficiency that by its virtue or ability diverts all the world’s plagues” (De Caelo II c. 1) – Góis is nevertheless open to more updated views, some which are akin to the wavelength of the Renaissance linked to occult faculties in the sublunar world, a critically received topic, though. Here and there one finds Góis opened to “experience” (Andrade 1982, Marinheiro 2012) and induction. He mentions in his pages Portuguese personalities: Pedro Nunes, João de Barros, Fernão de Magalhães, Tomás Rodrigues da Veiga, Pedro da Fonseca, and probably King Sebastian. He also introduces typical Portuguese allusions, such as to regions and its features or folk stories (Coimbra, Cantanhede, Óbidos, Algarve, Bragança); rivers (the Tagus in Portugal, and others in Congo, Angola, and Brazil); earthquakes and their consequences (in Lisbon, Santarém, and Almeirim); and several more related to the Portuguese and Spanish Maritime effort (New Spain, India, Brazil, and Japan) and their inputs (regarding atmospheric, zoological, sea, tides, winds, and water topics). Among his non-Portuguese contemporaries, Góis mentions Luis de Molina, Christopher Clavius, Francisco Suárez, Alonso Rodríguez de Guevara, and Abraham Zacuto (see Carvalho 2020b: 269).

The Human Being

According to Manuel de Góis, every human being is a microcosm which, in a way, gives anthropology a cosmological foundation (Carvalho 2009a). Situated on the horizon of time and eternity, besides being the highest or ultimate form, the study of the rational soul of the human being is carried out chiefly by natural philosophy. Assigning a function to each part of the body, God, the true author of nature, is the creator of the whole fabrica humani corporis. The result is a splendid balance between the movements of the heart, arteries, respiration, as well as body and soul (De Generatione II c. 8). Here, Galen is not the sole authority to reinforce Aristotle’s. Citing Ambrose of Milan and Marsilio Ficino, Góis highlights the beauty of the human body as an image (simulacrum) of the mind. Perfection and beauty are mutually complementary. In the case of humans, their physical strength, the submission of sensitive faculties to the will, of the will to reason, and finally of reason to natural law, signal such perfection and beauty. Still, one must emphasize that Christ is the supreme beauty. To the four traditional elements of the physis correspond the same numbers of human humors – atrabilious, sanguinolent, pituitary, and bilious – and the respective temperaments: melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic and choleric. Attuned to the spirit of the age of Góis (Des Chene 2000), the definition of life, intrinsic to every form of life, truly matters, above all in the commentary on Aristotle’s On the Soul (Carvalho 2010a). In the commentary on Ethics, despite its heterogeneous style, Góis also discusses and complements some issues related e.g. to the human will (Carvalho 2020d). Even if the starting point of his research into On the Soul is the vegetative state inherent to all living beings, and the definition of life taken from the Aristotelian De respiratione, the greater relevance of the sensitive over the vegetative power is straightforward. In spite of recent anatomical investigations, the heart (which is compared to the sun) is still considered the source of life and amongst all forms of animal or sensitive life, human life prevails over all others. As a result of the four modes of life captured by Aristotle’s definition of the soul – to vegetate, to feel, to move, and to think – Góis acknowledges four types of living beings, although only the fourth mode is considered to be characteristic of the human being. Faithful to the hylomorphic doctrine, Góis sustains that the soul does not operate without the body and cannot exist without it (the soul is more perfect when within the body). However, there is a moment when the life of the spirit is attained by the soul in the process of ascending complexity, : infused into the body, without any habit or species, it progressively acquires the habit of science. While rooted in physics, the scientia de anima (i.e., psychology as well as anthropology) constantly points to the metaphysical dimension of separation. Metaphysics relates to separation, though Góis has not published on metaphysics, as already mentioned. Aquinas’ notion of a “subsistent substantial form” is interpreted through the lenses of an eclectic Neo-platonic frame, according to which Humans participate in Reason through immateriality and spirituality, but at the same time they emerge from the materiality of the Earth (De Anima II c. 2, exp. B). From two completely different approaches, Coxito (1962) and Salatowsky (2006) have dealt with intellect. Yet, the sensitive and physiological dimensions of human knowledge have been the most studied topic so far. The sense of vision, for instance (Camps 2012 and 2015), but also the sense of hearing (Mambella 2001), plus the activity of the remaining senses (Simmons 1998, Heider 2016), as well as their number (Silva 2020: 59-65) or their importance, in general, to assist the spirituality of humans (Carvalho 2019c), have been the subject of recent scholarly attention (see also Sander 2014). As noted above, Manuel de Góis has also written about ethics. Moreover, he even recognizes that one cannot become a good philosopher unless one knows moral philosophy (Henriques 1998; Domingues 2001). The English reader lacks all the titles by Góis, although a chapter of the Ethica related to happiness was translated by Kraye (1997). Before the highest experience of happiness, humans may access two other layers: natural practical happiness, related to the virtue of prudence, and natural contemplative happiness, specific to the divine being and immaterial beings. Manuel de Góis adopts the Thomistic distinction between “acts of man” and “human acts”, and he espouses the thesis of the superiority of the intellect over the will. However, as far as faculties are concerned, the will is deemed to be the universal cause of motion. Thus, one may find that the origin of freedom lies in the intellect, regardless of whether the will is free to choose the good as its object, producing it (through love) or giving it a particular order (through intellection). As with Thomas Aquinas, the will moves the intellect and the intellect leads the will, but to ignore the impact of what will be termed Molinism on Góis’s writings would be objectionable. Unfortunately, the research on this issue falls far short of what is necessary.


The Coimbra Jesuit Course is a philosophical, not a theological one. Nevertheless, both as a subject matter and as a research vector – the motives of “de potentia” are recurrent (see e.g. Physica II c. 7, q. 16, a.1) – God is a crucial player. There are several allusions to God’s nature – Physica VIII will be a key text in that regard – as well as to His ad intra and ad extra relations, the latter being the usual place to dwell on all aspects of the creature and, notably, on Creation (– again, Physica VIII c. 2, q. 4, a. 4). Human beings may tap into God’s existence not only through Aristotelian causality, but also via the Pseudo-Dyonisian negative process. Faithful to the Thomistic paradigm, metaphysics would pave the way towards theology, natural theology being distinct from revealed or biblical theology on account of a formal distinction. At the end of the commentary on De Anima, metaphysics as well as the appendix published by Baltasar Álvares (Carvalho 2016) are explicitly mentioned (see also above § 2). Meanwhile, throughout his work, Manuel de Góis acknowledges that: (i) the “being qua being” is the adequate subject of metaphysics; (ii) God is its supreme subject; and (iii) creatures, subordinate to the being, are its partial subject. Moreover, “divine philosophy” designates the contemplation of things that transcend nature, and where human intelligence can come to the contemplative apex.

List of works:

In the current state of the art, more is known about the repercussions of Manuel de Góis’ philosophical work in China than anywhere else in the world, namely in Brazil; in the meantime, on the former, see section 3 of this Encyclopaedia.

Published works: the Coimbra Jesuit Course

  • Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu, In Octo Libros Physicorum Aristotelis Stagiritae, Coimbra: António de Mariz, 1592.
  • Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu, In Quatuor libros de Coelo Aristotelis Stagiritae, Lisbon: Simão Lopes, 1593.
  • Tractatio aliquot Problematum de rebus ad quatuor mundi elementa pertinentibus in totidem sectiones distributa, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu, In Quatuor libros de Coelo Aristotelis Stagiritae, Lisbon, 1593, pp. 405-420.
  • Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu, In libros Meteororum Aristotelis Stagiritae, Simão Lopes, 1593.
  • Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantur , Lisbon: Simão Lopes, 1593.
  • In librum de Memoria et Reminiscentia, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantur, Lisbon, 1593, pp. 3-19.
  • In librum de Somno et Vigilia, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantur, Lisbon, 1593, pp. 20-35.
  • In librum de Somniis, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantu, Lisbon 1593, pp. 36-47.
  • In librum de divinatione per Somnum, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantur, Lisbon 1593, pp. 48-54.
  • In librum de Respiratione, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantur, Lisbon, 1593, pp. 55-67.
  • In librum de Iuventute et Senectute, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantur, Lisbon 1593, pp. 68-80.
  • In librum de Vita et Morte, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantur, Lisbon, 1593, pp. 81-94.
  • In librum de longitudine et brevitate vitae, in Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu In libros Aristotelis, qui Parva Naturalia appellantur, Lisbon 1593, pp. 95-98.
  • In libros Ethicorum Aristotelis ad Nicomachum, aliquot Conimbricensis Cursus Disputationes in quibus praecipua quaedam Ethicae disciplinae capita continentur, Lisbon: Simão Lopes, 1593.
  • Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu, In duos libros De Generatione et Corruptione Aristotelis Stagiritae, Coimbra: Antonio de Mariz, 1597.
  • Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Iesu, In tres libros de Anima Aristotelis Stagiritae, Coimbra: António de Mariz, 1598.

Other Works (manuscripts)

  • Utrum intellectus sit potentia nobilior voluntate, Coimbra 1582.
  • “Enigma da feira dos estudantes”, in Rerum Scholasticorum… 147sg. and 175v-176.
  • “Oratio habita a P. Emmanuele de Goes in examine bacchalaureorum”, circa 1576, in Rerum Scholasticorum… 414-416.

Modern Translations of Góis’s works

  • Curso Aristotélico Jesuíta Conimbricense. Tomo I: Comentários aos Livros denominados ‘Parva Naturalia’. Tradução de Bernardino Fernando da Costa Marques; Introdução doutrinal de Mário Santiago de Carvalho; Estabelecimento do Texto Latino por Sebastião Tavares de Pinho e Marina Fernandes, Coimbra 2020.
  • Curso Aristotélico Jesuíta Conimbricense. Tomo II: Disputas do Curso Conimbricense sobre os livros das ‘Éticas de Aristóteles a Nicómaco’. Tradução do latim e Introdução Doutrinal de Mário Santiago de Carvalho, Fixação do Texto Latino de Sebastião Tavares de Pinho e Mário Santiago de Carvalho, Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra 2020.
  • Comentários do Colégio Conimbricense da Companhia de Jesus Sobre os Três Livros Da Alma de Aristóteles Estagirita. Tradução do original latino por Maria da Conceição Camps, Lisboa 2010.
  • Curso Conimbricense I. Pe. Manuel de Góis: Moral a Nicómaco, de Aristóteles. Introdução, estabelecimento do texto e tradução de António Alberto de Andrade, Lisboa 1957.
  • CambridgeTranslations of Renaissance Philosophical Texts. I: Moral Philosophy. Ed. by J. Kraye, Cambridge 1997, 81-87.
  • Manuel de Góis, S.J. Tratado da Felicidade. Disputa III do ‘Comentário aos Livros das Éticas a Nicómaco’. Estudo e Introdução complementar de Mário S. de Carvalho; nova tradução do original latino e notas de F. Medeiros, Lisboa 2009
  • Tratado Quinto dos Comentários Conimbricenses “Sobre os Meteorológicos” de Aristóteles. Tradução e apresentação de José Portugal dos Santos Ramos e Bruna Frascolla, in Textos e Estudos35 (2016), 115-122.
    DOI: http:/
  • Comentários a Aristóteles do Curso Jesuíta Conimbricense (1592-1606). Antologia de Textos. Introdução de Mário Santiago de Carvalho; Traduções de  Banha de AndradeMaria da Conceição Camps, Amândio A. CoxitoPaula Barata DiasFilipa Medeiros e Augusto A. Pascoal. Editio Altera. LIF – Linguagem, Interpretação e Filosofia. Faculdade de Letras: Coimbra 2011.

Secondary Bibliography:

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  • Carvalho (2001c), Mário Santiago de. “The Concept of Time According to The Coimbra Commentaries”, in The Medieval Concept of Time. Studies on the Scholastic Debate and Its Reception in Early Modern Philosophy, ed. P. Porro, Leiden – Boston – Köln: E.J. Brill, 353-382.
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The author wishes to thank Robert Junqueira for improving the English version


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