Pedro da Fonseca
Philosopher and theologian, at Cortizada, Portugal, 1528; d. at Lisbon, Nov. 4, 1599
Fonseca Pedro DA philosopher and theologian, at Cortizada, Portugal, 1528; d. at Lisbon, November 4, 1599. He entered the Society of Jesus in Coimbra in 1548, and in 1551 passed to the University of Evora, where, after completing his studies, he lectured upon philosophy with such subtlety and brilliancy as to win for himself the title of the “Portuguese Aristotle”. His works, which for over a century after his death were widely used in philosophical schools throughout Europe, are: “Institutionum Dialecticarum Libri Octo” (Lisbon, 1564); “Commentariorum in Libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis Stagiritae” (Rome, 1577); “Isagoge Philosophica” (Lisbon, 1591). These works appeared in an immense number of editions from the Catholic press all over Europe. Fonseca also shares the fame of the “Conimbricenses” (q.v.), as it was during his term of office as provincial and largely owing to his initiative that this celebrated work was undertaken by the Jesuit professors of Coimbra.
As a man of affairs, Fonseca was not less gifted than as a philosopher. He filled many important posts in his order, being assistant, for Portugal, to the general, visitor of Portugal, and superior of the professed house at Lisbon; while Gregory XIII and Philip II (from 1580 King of Portugal) employed him in affairs of the greatest delicacy and consequence. Fonseca used his influence wisely in promoting the interests of charity and learning. Many great institutions in Lisbon, notably the Irish college, owe their existence, at least in great part, to his zeal and piety. He is also credited with a considerable share in the drawing up of the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum. But his greatest claim to lasting reputation lies in the fact that he first devised the solution, by his scientia media in God, of the perplexing problem of the reconciliation of grace and free will. Nevertheless his fame in this matter has been somewhat obscured by that of his disciple, Luis de Molina, who, having more fully developed and perfected the ideas of his master in his work “Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Grath Donis”, etc., came gradually to be regarded as the originator of the doctrine.
JOHN F. X. MURPHY