Borda, Andrés de

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Mexican theologian; b. Mexico City, date unknown;d. there, 1723. The problems that accompanied the conquest and conversion of Mexico in the 16th century challenged the philosophers and theologians to produce books of enduring value. The humanistic revival of 18th-century Mexico called forth works that were prized by the 20th century because of the similarity in point of view prevalent in the two centuries. Mexican authors of the 17th century are ignored not because they were less learned, but because there is little interest in their problems and solutions. Andrés de Borda is one of these authors, greatly appreciated in his lifetime and almost completely forgotten since. He was trained in the Franciscan houses of study of Mexico City. As the first Franciscan to receive a doctor's degree from the University of Mexico (1697), he ended a period of estrangement begun at the time of the founding (1553), when the Franciscans were intent on building a university for the native converts at their college of Santa Cruz de Tlaltelolco. In 1688 he had been given the Scotistic chair at the University of Mexico, and he retained it until his retirement in 1711. In 1701 he was named to go to Spain to defend the university against the pretension of the Colegio de los Santos. In 1708, with Juan Ignacio de Castorena y Ursúa, later editor of the Gaceta de México, he drew up the official response to the 14 doubts presented to the university by the Bethlehemites. After retirement from the university, Borda became theological consultant to the Inquisition of Mexico City and prepared the verdict in the important case, pending since 1702, against Francisco Figueroa, disciple of the ex-Jesuit Francisco Davi. At the request of the university, Borda wrote also a series of philosophical treatises that remain in manuscript. All his works show that he was an author of his time; yet, he was calm; he searched for the truth, and prized the value of human dignity; and he had an objective sense that gave him an advantage over his contemporaries. Most highly valued among his spiritual works is his Práctica de confesores de monjas (1708), a work marked by its clarity, kindness, and objectivity.

Bibliography: j. m. beristain de souza, Biblioteca hispano americana septentrional, 5 v. in 2 (Colección Daniel; 3d ed. Mexico City 1947).

[r. becerra]