Luis de Molina

Luis de Molina

Luis de Molina was a theologian member of the Society of Jesus. He is one of the few members of the School of Salamanca that did not belong to the Dominicans. He opposed all forms of determinism and maintained a position in favor of private property and free trade.

Luis de Molina was born in 1535, in Cuenca. He began law studies in Salamanca, although he did not finish them. From there he went to the University of Alcalá de Henares, where he studied canons and logic, in 1552. Almost at the same time he entered the Society of Jesus. Only a year later, his Jesuit superiors sent him to Lisbon, a journey he made on foot on a pilgrimage and living off alms. Later he went to Coimbra, at whose university he studied Arts. At the end of these he studied theology in the also Portuguese Évora and Coimbra. He was ordained a priest in 1561 and in 1563, he began to work as a professor of Arts in Coimbra, until 1567.

In 1568, the Cuenca man obtained the chair of Vespers to teach Theology at the University of Évora. Three years later, in 1571, he managed to obtain the degree of Doctor of Theology. This would lead him to win the premium chair of Theology at the University of Évora. In 1584 he would leave the academic world to move to Lisbon, where he focused on the composition of his works.

In 1591 he returned to Spain to live in Cuenca until 1600. In this year he was appointed professor of moral theology at the Imperial College of Madrid. However, he was never able to exercise this position, since he died in that same year.

His thinking covered a wide range of knowledge. Its theological basis greatly influenced his conception of the world. He strongly defended human freedom, free will, which led him to position himself in favor of freedom in all dimensions.

The thought of Luis de Molina

Luis de Molina is one of the few considered members of the School of Salamanca who come from the Jesuits. He is recognized as an important scholar, who knew how to work in fields as diverse as theology, law and philosophy.

He also dedicated himself to economics, although from a political-philosophical perspective. From this perspective he wrote ‘De Justicia et Jure’, in which he reflected on law, politics and economics. Among others, he dealt with topics such as taxes, prices and monopolies, in which he showed a classical liberal perspective. All of them very present in most of the members of the School of Salamanca.

He was a tireless defender of free will and fought any kind of determinism. He maintained this position in the so-called ‘Polemic de auxiliis’. In relation to this, he conceived the notion of middle science. With this concept he sought to reconcile the omnipotence of God with the freedom of the human being. Its name derives that it is between what was known as the science of simple intelligence and the science of vision.

Free trade as an expression of free will

The Jesuit applied the concept of human freedom and free will to his vision of politics and economics. He pointed out that the notion of civil society derives from it, since without freedom of thought and action, its existence is meaningless. Therefore, always through the grace of God, human beings have the ability to function as citizens. A role inextricably linked to the need to make decisions on issues that affect the material and spiritual well-being of the entire society.

It is from this point that Molina reaffirms himself as a supporter of free trade. He understands that this model is precisely the one most in line with the freedom that God has granted man. For this reason, it opposes any attempt by the political power to regulate prices and markets. As a supporter of freedom, he also defended the legitimacy of private property and called the slave trade an immoral practice.

His defense of individual freedom also led him to affirm that the ruler is, in reality, an administrator. And that, in reality, power rests with the set of individual citizens. In this way, he was signified as ahead of his time, being a forerunner of the liberal thinkers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.