Author: Cintia Faraco
Part of: Suárez’s Theory of Law, Politics, Anthropology (coord. by Cintia Faraco)
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Published: January, 9th, 2020
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3601947

The latest version of this entry may be cited as follows: Faraco, Cintia, “Suárez, Francisco – Anthropology”, Encyclopedia, Mário Santiago de Carvalho, Simone Guidi (eds.), doi = “10.5281/zenodo.3601947”, URL = “”, latest revision: January, 9th, 2020.

Man as Adam

By analyzing Suárez’s works, one can see how, to man, is attributed a role of peculiar importance. Man’s innermost nature, his relationships, his concrete actions can be seen as the many subjects of as many autonomous studies, not leading to univocal conclusions, but branching off in different directions, leaving a field of research ready to be probed and plowed. Taking into account the magnitude of the suarezian written production, we consider here to try to lay the foundations for a reconstruction of the suarezian anthropology, starting from the text De Opere Sex Dierum, published posthumous (1623).

Without moving away from previous theological lessons, the Jesuit conceives man someway as independent from his relationship with God and shows him in his archetype, Adam, as formed by formerly created elements. The creative act is an absolutely unique and original act, by which God gives His own shape to man: already created elements coalesce into a new creature which the divine power manifests in. In other words, God passes down to man a part of Himself: the intellect, the will, the freedom and, with them, the image and the likeness. We can read, in fact, “Adam quoad corpus non fuisse ex nihilo productum, sed ex limo terrae formatum” (De op. sex dierum, III, I, n. 2).

Suárez develops the human creation from its constituent elements and, in detail, he argues that the man is not so the pure result of a “creatio ex nihilo” but a brand new formation, consisting of already known elements. In other words, “ex limo terrae” comes from “ex quatuor extremis partibus terrae, Oriente, Occidente, Meridie, et Septentrione, quia in quatuor litteris nominis Adam secundum idioma Graecum, illae quatuor partes orbis significantur, ut notat Augustinus”(De dierum, III, I, n. 3).

God creates the man-Adam through an absolutely original and unique act, and Adam reveals himself as an archetype in which the creative power of God works. Thus, man was created with all the necessary perfection, due to the rational soul i.e. with a body adequate or suitable to that soul or better worthy for it (De op. sex dierum, III, I , n. 16) as “faciamus hominem” provides that God has created man, indeed He did so, partly molding the body from the mud, partly blowing in him the breath of life (De dierum, III, I , n.13). In other words, the first man’s body was animal, i.e. living of a bodily and sensible life, when God blew in him, in that breathe there was the life of man (De op. sex dierum, III, VII , n. 7).

Man is created as complete in all the aspects he needs for life. Indeed, it is written that it was necessary that that body had a specific perfection not only because receives formally from the soul that peculiar and essential perfection, but also because it must have necessarily those dispositions and, at that level, the rational soul itself requires to shape the body according to the power of its essence and its form (De op. sex dierum, III, I , n. 16). So, for the perfection that this creature expresses, we can assume that it appears heterogeneous, provided with peculiar qualities and features, rendering it something new in the creatural world.

Man is productus et factus by divine power and has been gifted not only with a substance, i.e. material and sensible body, but also with a form, i.e. a soul, that had been infused immediately in the body. Quoting Thomas Aquinas (ST, I-I, q. 91, a. 4), Suarez affirms that “animas hominum non fuisse in principio creatas simul, sed creari in eodem instanti, in quo corporibus uniuntur” (De dierum, III, VII, n. 8). The soul – real form of the body – cannot be separated from its substance, and cannot be placed before the original formative moment. As asserted by Aristotle, who was the first to put in such terms the question of the relationship between the form and the substance, Suarez cannot consider absolutely unnatural that the form precedes the substance, and that substance precedes form.

Such a construction is also valid for Eve, who shares with Adam integrity and perfection (De dierum, III, II). The first parents’ bodies were built proportioned to the individual perfection because “anima, et corpus servant inter se proportionem. And Suárez adds:

eodem modo sentiendum est de potentiis animae, intellectu, scilicet, et voluntate, nam fuerunt in primis hominibus valde perfectae, et substantiae animae proportionatae (De op. sex dierum, III, VII, n. 13).

As a parent to a son, God passes down all the elements that render him similar to Himself but, in this sense, at a different level, perfectly proportionated to the given body, the soul inspires and shapes it. Such a creature has a share in the divine and it is similar to God, in the finite shares to infinite in being perfectible shares the absolute perfection, in being a part of the creation shares the Creator’s spark, in being generated by charitas is part of Father’s same charitas. As an artist gives life to his works, God shapes his creature, loves him infinitely and is admired by his work, in his turn.

Just the fusion of completeness and peculiarity, in man, makes sure that the creature has been provided, from the beginning, with a capability or better, a suitability to be shaped. In other words, it is endowed with such flexibility suitable to the good and the evil. So this flexible nature renders the creature-man objectively freer than other created species, because he can decide his own destiny, even in the choice of the evil, and can choose the best form for himself.

To resume the previous question, man is provided with every perfection adequate to his nature and so it should be deepened what the expression “with all necessary perfection” (Ibid) means. In this sense, in the IIIrd book of the Treatise, Suarez affirms the importance of the creative act, underlining the perfection of the man created in God’s own image and likeness (Ibid).

After all, the debate about the discovery of an image or a likeness of God with the man is essential. The pair imagelikeness was examined by Thomas Aquinas and, from then on, the attempts to mend the tear were numerous and various because of the dissolution of that pair. When man finds out to have lost God’s image, and to be only similar to Him, he becomes a tormented seeker of himself and observes himself as slightly transient.

Following Suarez’s argumentative scheme, the first step in the reconstruction of this theological thesis consists of wondering whether the image, what the man reproduces in himself – that is the soul – derives from its divine being, or rather, from aliqua persona.

As regards the divine essence, Suárez confirms what the Auctoritates (in this specific case Augustine and Thomas Aquinas) previously said, i.e. isn’t produced, hence it is not an image (De dierum, III, VIII, n. 3) because “non possunt intelligi de imagine increate(Ibid). This theological reality explains itself because: “hominem peculiarem conformitatem et similitudinem ad divinam essentiam in creatione sua recepisse, ratione eius specialiter dicatur factus ad imaginem Dei(Ibid).

Thus, it is maintained that the image of God in man is not essential, but personal (ST, I-I, q. 35, a.1) and would be based on that peculiar conformity and likeness to the divine essence, that the whole creation receives and preserves in itself. Such a solution leads to the peculiarity of human nature, in which that conformity and that likeness will be realized (De op. sex dierum, III, VIII, n.3). That is, indeed, the reason for the image, impressed in man. On the contrary, the idea that the divine essence is a model, a specimen, an exemplar will remain unsatisfied (Ibid).

At this point, the other part of the question, i.e. if the image and the likeness could be rather found in aliqua persona, should be analyzed. According to Suárez, the image has to consist in the union of the Trinity because:

homo vero est ad imaginem Dei, quia a Deo ut Deus est procedit, sicut eo ipso quod homo sit particeps filiationis naturalis Verbi Dei, in se recepit peculiarem participationem naturae filii Dei

and, moreover,

quod Verbum est filius solius Patris, quia ab illo tantum procedit; homo vero fit filius adoptivus Trinitatis, quia a tota Trinitate illam naturae divinae participationem recipit (De op. sex dierum, III, VIII, n.6).

As an artist produces his works instinctively, with a creative impulse, it is right to ask how the work becomes animated, complete and independent, in the same way, God creates man, animated, complete and independent.

In the particle “ad” the participation of the creature to the Creator and, in this mutual participation, sharing it, manages to produce “intellegendo (…) verbum, & diligendo, amorem” (De op. sex dierum, III, VIII, n.35). A particle does not indicate or introduce an “exemplar” as a foundation of the man, but indicates a “terminum quasi formalem, et ultimum, ac principaliter intentum illius divinae operationis, ita ut sensus sit, faciamus hominem, et in eo sit imago nostra” (De op. sex dierum, III, VIII, n.8). So, the use of “ad” shows an imperfect symmetry between the Creator and the creature, and especially it determines how the image is not of God, leaving room to man’s imperfection, i.e. a “quasi distans a perfectione” (De op. sex dierum, III, VIII, n.9).

Indeed, the Author underlines how that image and likeness of God in man are substantive in the soul, in which “a natura intellectuali participari possunt secundum formalem convenientiam cum Deo” (De op. sex dierum, III, VIII, n.34). Thus, whether it is considered from the point of view of the powers – that Suárez divides in intellectus, memoria et voluntas (De op. sex dierum, III, VIII, n.35) – or it is considered from the point of view of the act – divided in intelligente et amante (Ibid) – it shares the intellect and the will because in every thought and love that image is somehow found, with a greater property in love and knowledge of God, and the more perfect it is, the more perfect the above-mentioned acts have been (Ibid).

From Aggregation to the Congregation

The archetypical man is thought as immersed in an undefined and indefinable time and he is portrayed as in a state of innocence that outlines him pure and blessed with the divine grace and according to Suárez, he owns all the features that are expected to be found in the post lapsum man. The man – as previously said – has been produced and made proportionate to the individual perfection of creature gifted with divine power; and therefore complete of all the elements consubstantial with him, and, in particular, is provided with the capability to live together with the other men to express himself completely.

In a post lapsum world, the aggregation to other fellows leads man to reach a greater aim than that he could reach as an isolated human being, in which a perfection he couldn’t attain as an individual could occur. Indeed, individual unity survives with the creation of a family, spreads with its descendants and with all the further unions that successively will be created. In a prae lapsu world, the archetypal man expresses his perfection, already complete, following his social nature, in a freer way, focused on living in common.

Contextualized in both post lapsum and prae lapsu life, the first aggregation is a “societas domestica quia illa intrinsece ac naturaliter oritur ac coniunctione maris et foeminae, ac filiorum procreation” (De op. sex dierum, V, VII, n.2). In the treatise of law, with political contest, it can be read it

inter quas prior est maxime naturalis et quasi fundamentalis, quia inchoatur ex societate maris et foeminae, sine qua non posset genus humanum propagari, aut conservari (…), ex coniunctione hac proxime sequitur societas filiorum cum parentibus, quia prior coniunctio ad filiorum educationem ordinatur (…). Ex his autem tribus coniunctionibus consurgit prima communitas hominum, quae imperfecta dicitur respectu politicae (De leg., III, I, n.3).

This first human community is characterized by the absence of a particular moral bond among men, because it gives birth to an aggregate “per accidens plurium domesticarum communitatum” (De op. sex dierum, V, VII), underlined by that how the natural human sociability manifests itself following its disposition, that makes man aimed to the life together.

As Aristotle already did, Suárez describes the first community of men as a little tribe, made up of a family with parents, children and the servants. It can be defined a “familia perfecta in ordine ad domesticam seu oeconomicam gubernationem” (Idib). In the state of innocence the society of men and women would exist thanks to a special bond with marriage and, consequently, the necessary cohabitation aimed to the procreation and the education of the children, a domestic society, or an imperfect community, is supposed to exist (De op. sex dierum, V, VII, n.2).

The archetype of Adam and the man immersed in the time do not differ from one another because both are complete and vital work, shaped and molded at his Creator’s image and likeness in an undefined time. Indeed, one can read that, if a village is only determined by a group of houses, it derives, out of natural necessity, from the reproduction of the children, of the nephews, and so on; hence, undoubtedly, it will exist in the state of innocence. On the contrary, if the village is meant as a political community unified by morality, that village, as far as small, appears to be the beginning of a city (De op. sex dierum, V, VII, nn. 3-4).

Given the completeness of the men procreated in the state of innocence, it can be maintained that the archetypal family is self-sufficient and autonomous. So, in this state, no necessity of evolution would emerge from that kind of union without a particular moral bond to a political society. It does not actualize itself without any agreement, expressed or silent, based on mutual help, or without any subordination of the single families and individuals to someone superior or a governor of the community.

For man, the convenience in joining a community is intrinsic to his nature and his completeness, and, even better, the aggregation is desirable in itself, because of a greater joy of life and of the correct communication among men (De op. sex dierum, V, VII, n. 6).

Suárez does not fall into a contradiction when he maintains that the procreation of the people leads to any beauty and to the moral decorum of all the species, as the diversity of many people makes the greatness of the perfections of the whole species shine. Besides that, because it is necessary to the political society, very natural for the men (De op. sex dierum, V, I, n.2).

The relationship between necessity and convenience of the creation of political society can be explained in the following way. The need, understood as an immediate explication of the human nature, is inferred only in the moment of the aggregation, determined by the principle of nature, in conformity with “non esse bonum vivere solum (De leg., III, I, n.3, De op. sex dierum, V, I).

Indeed, the archetypal man is not unique, but compound and multifarious and, in such a multiplicity, distinguishes himself, think of his science that is clearly different and adequate to his age, determining so effectiveness in the aggregation, or better in the political congregation. There is no necessity in the creation of the political society in the state of innocence. It can be said rather convenient for men and their perfection.

For prae lapsu man the moment of the political congregation exalts the freedom of choice. But the political society, as above mentioned, provides that there will be a certain subordination of the single families and the people to someone superior or a governor of the community and, so, it is so necessary to ask whether the superior or the rector of the community is born within it because of a peculiar suitability to the role or is chosen in another way. The right answer is implied in the praesit that God gives to man.

In the state of innocence, man can give orders to animals since he operates according to the divine command of creation, but he cannot do this against his fellows, being no one created as a slave (neither of God nor of men). The potestas imperativa itself, which finds expression in this ideal state, is realized as leading sovereignty, which leads to the “better good” and it is aimed at the peace of the community, even if not as the manifestation of superiority of a man on another. In the same way, it can be theorized, in such a perennial state of innocence, the difference between a King provided with potestas oeconomica, as Adam, and a King provided with potestas politica, as Cain, or anybody else in his progeny (De op. sex dierum, V, VII).

As a matter of fact, the two powers are different: the former, the potestas oeconomica, is necessary and structural to the nature of man as a creature by itself. The latter, the potestas politica is related, instead to the free choice of the human creature to reach the pure self-fulfilment, through the congregation for the achieving of the perfect community.

Suárez is remembered to maintain man’s natural inclination to the association and he defines the result of this tendency with the term aggregation and defines the result of human free choice of the realization of his sociability as congregation. Indeed, at the moment of the creation, man has been given freedom as a part of his natural essence, i.e. the created work has in itself the autonomy of choice in its entire existence. Natural society finds its origins in the divine, which reveals uniquely its purpose of answering exhaustively to the aims set by the human creatural nature (i.e. of the principle of ‘non esse bonum vivere solum’). In this way there is no necessity of a political organization or, better, it still is not useful. It implies within the aggregation a wide margin in which man expresses himself with the creation of those juridical institutions that improve his own existence, or are created for the best utility and the achievement of human welfare.

The last essence, which justifies human unions, is an open and not binding continuity indifferent to the several forms of government that exclude the arbitrariness and legitimates every political bond. While the aggregation is necessary, the congregation is free, so the freedom of the political choice is legitimate, at the level of the pure nature and of the establishment of the state. In the state of nature, which the real man lives in, the congregation will be ruled by the existence of an expressed or silent agreement.

As here briefly outlined, Suarezian State is a State-organism, as it is based on the social nature of its members, a pre-established nature as an inflexible datum, that influences the whole social and political structure. These natural needs justify the existence of these groups, that are created according to their founder’s wishes and change during the times following its members’ will.


Primary literature

  • Suárez, F., 1856, De opere sex dierum, in Opera Omnia, Parisiis, apud LudovicumVivès Bibliopolam editorem, t.III.
  • Suárez, F., 1857, De Gratia, in Opera Omnia, Parisiis, apud LudovicumVivès Bibliopolam editorem t.VII, Prolegomenum I.
  • Suárez, F., 1861, Disputationes Metaphysicae, in Opera Omnia, Parisiis, apud LudovicumVivès Bibliopolam editorem t.XXVI.
  • Suárez, F., 1872, Tractatus de legibus ac Deo legislatore in decem libros distributus, Neapoli.
  • Suárez, F., 1996, Disputazioni Metafisiche, 1-3, C. Esposito, Milano, Rusconi.
  • Suárez, F., 2013, Trattato delle leggi e di Dio legislatore, Libro III, O. De Bertolis e F. Todescan, Padova, Cedam.
  • Suárez, F., 2015, Trattato dell’Opera dei Sei Giorni, Libro V, capp. I (I-I),VII-XII, C. Faraco, Capua, Ed. Artetetra.

Secondary literature

  • Ambrosetti (1948), G., La filosofia delle leggi di Suarez, Roma, Editrice Studium, 1948.
  • Caciolini (2013), M., «Un’imprevista specialis difficultas: pubblicità senza interruzioni nell’opera di Suárez», in Lo Sguardo, n. 12, III, 2013, pp. 197-217.
  • Cedroni (1996), L., La comunità perfetta, Roma, Editrice Studium, 1996.
  • Coujou (2012), J.P., Droit, anthropologie & politique chez Suárez, Artège, Perpignan, 2012.
  • De Wulf (1904), M., Introduction à la philosophienéo-scolastique, Louvain-Paris, 1904.
  • Doyle (2010) J. P., Collected Studies on Francisco Suarez SJ (1548–1617), in Victor Salas (eds), Universitaire Pers Leuven, Leuven, 2010
  • Esposito (2014), C., «Francisco Suárez: la natura, la grazia e la causa della libertà», in Anuario filosofico (Universidad de Navarra), 47, n. 1, 2014.
  • Faraco (2016), C., «Between  wisdom  and  political  realism: machiavelisms  by Francisco Suárez», in RphZ Rechtsphilosophie Zeitschrift für Grundlagen des Rechts, 3, 2016.
  • Faraco (2017), C., «Faciamus hominem: reflexión sobre el libro V del Tractatus de opere sex dierum de Suárez», in Cauriensia, vol. 12, 2017.
  • Gerardi (2003), R., Storia della morale. Interpretazioni teologiche dell’esperienza cristiana. Periodi e correnti, autori e opere, Bologna, EDB editore, 2003.
  • Giacon (1944), C., Suárez, Brescia, La scuola 1944.
  • Grabmann (1909), M., Die Geschichte der scholastischen Methode, Freiburg im Breisgau, Herdersche Verlagshandlung, 1909 (Storia del metodo scolastico condotta su fonti edite e inedite, M. Candela e P. Buscaglione Candela, Firenze, La Nuova Italia 1980).
  • Lecón (2014), M., Acción, praxis y ley. Estudio metafísico y psicológico de la acción legislativa en Francisco Suárez, Pamplona, Eunsa, 2014.
  • Mesnard (1983), P., Il pensiero politico rinascimentale, Bari, Laterza, 1983.
  • Morta Figuls (1949), A., La causa proxima de la obligación de la ley humana según Suárez, Roma, Ars Nova, 1949.
  • Parotto (1993), G., Iustus ordo. Secolarizzazione della ragione e sacralizzazione del principe nella Seconda Scolastica, Napoli, Guida, 1993.
  • Passerin d’Entrèves (1962), A., La dottrina dello stato, Torino, Giappichelli, 1962.
  • Schmutz, J. (eds), 2004, Francisco Suárez: ‘Der ist der Mann’: homenaje al Prof. Salvador Castellote, Valencia, Facultad de Teología “San Vincente Ferrer”, 2004.
  • Ugarte de Ercilla (1918), E., «Suárez filosofo del diritto», in Rivista di filosofia neo-scolastica, n. X, 1918, pp. 75-77.
  • Zorroza (2015) M.I., Del uso de la voluntad en el De anima de Suárez, in «Scientia et Fides» 5/1, 2015, pp. 223-239

Related Entries