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Suarez's Hylomorphism and the Body-Soul Composition

Helen Hattab

In contrast to our post-Cartesian image of the philosopher as a lone genius who boldly casts all tradition aside and employs nothing but the individual mind’s eye to lay the foundations for a new philosophical system, Francisco Suárez was a participant in a centuries long, multi-faceted intellectual conversation centered round Aristotle’s works and the theological, philosophical and interpretive questions they raised in a variety of cultures and intellectual contexts. Suárez’s views on hylomorphism and the body-soul composition can thus not be neatly separated from debates among predecessors and contemporaries who likewise contributed to the rich complexity of questions, arguments and solutions developed within the broader framework of Aristotelian hylomorphism. Hence, I first attempt to situate Suárez’s views within this broader framework before I focus on how he responds to his main interlocutors on a subset of issues. However, since 16th century Aristotelian philosophies are still relatively understudied, I make no claim to provide a complete account of Suárez’s hylomorphism, much less so his contributions to centuries of discussion. This article is intended as a starting point, inviting further inquiries, elaborations and amendments.

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