¿Quién fue John of St. Thomas?
John of Saint Thomas (likewise John Poinsot, Juan Poinsot and Juan Tomás) (1589-1644) was a Spanish Jesuit priest and prolific philosophical and theological writer. He is notable for having popularized the term «analogy of being», lending it great currency among Catholic theologians of the 17th and 18th centuries, who saw it as comprising a third way between univocity and equivocity.
He was born and baptized Juan Tomás on January 6, 1589, in Brunete, Madrid, Spain. He entered the Society of Jesus on September 12, 1603, at the age of fourteen, and took the name Juan Poinsot. He studied rhetoric and grammar in Seville’s Jesuit college from 1605-1611, philosophy in Lisbon from 1611-1613, and theology in College Saint-Michel in Rome from 1613-1621. In technical philosophical terms, he subscribed to Scotism, and frequently invoked the authority of Scotus in support of his own views.
In 1621 he was ordained a priest, returning to Spain to serve as a chaplain in Extremadura. In 1623 he was made a lecturer at the Goa Metropolitan Seminary, and from 1628 onwards he taught at the Jesuit colleges of San Pablo in Valencia and Palma de Mallorca. He also served as confessor to the Philippines governor-general, and was deeply involved in the contemporary debate over the Chinese Rites controversy.
He is perhaps most notable, however, for his return to Spain in 1633, when he resumed his post as professor of systematically at College Saint-Michel in Madrid. While there he continued his involvement in the controversy over the Chinese Rites, penning the tractatus de deis sinarum («Treatise on Chinese Gods») in 1639, in which he defended the Chinese rites on traditional scholastic grounds (by appealing to analogy and distinguishing between latria and dulia, or worship of the one true God and veneration of merely subordinate deities).
In 1641 he obtained a prestigious professorship at the College of Vienna, where he intended to spend the rest of his career. However, he was summoned back to Madrid by King Philip IV in 1643 to investigate a theological opinion advanced by Nicolás Antonio in support of the Spanish Inquisition. This investigation ultimately resulted in his 1644 work, Censura philosophiaeCartesianae, the definitive refutation of Descartes’s philosophical system and an important work in the history of Counter-Reformation thought. He died in Madrid on November 25, 1644, at the age of fifty-five..