Vera Cruz, Alonso de la, Fray
VERA CRUZ, ALONSO DE LA, FRAY
Augustinian scholar linked with the beginninngs of philosophic thought an instruction in the Americas; b. Caspueñas, Toledo, 1504; d. Mexico, 1584. Fray Alonso studied the liberal arts and theology at the Universities of Alcalá and Salamanca, where he received the M.A. degree. While he was teaching the liberal arts at Salamanca, the university was famous as one of the centers of culture and learning of the early Renaissance.
The arrival in Spain of Fray Francisco de la Cruz, a prominent member of the Mexican Province of the mendicant Order of the Hermits of St. Augustine, proved decisive for Fray Alonso. The Augustinian Hermits of Mexico had founded a studium generale for their scholastics at Tiripitío, and Fray Francisco's journey to Spain had been undertaken to recruit additional coworkers and teachers. When Fray Alonso went to Vera Cruz in 1536, he had resolved to join the community of Augustinian Hermits.
For three years he was magister novitiorum in the Convento de México of Tiripitío. He subsequently taught philosophy and theology, and was temporarily in charge of diocesan administration. In 1545 he became prior of the monastery of Tacámbaro and, in 1548, provincial of the order. When in 1553 the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico (the ancestor of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) was founded, Fray Alonso was given the chair in Sacred Scripture and, later, in scholastic theology. Devoting himself exclusively to intellectual and apostolic work, he rejected the episcopates of Michoacán and of León de Nicaragua, as well as the position of commissioner general of New Spain, offered to him on the occasion of a visit to Spain in 1561.
Fray Alonso—often referred to as "the father of Mexican philosophy,"—was among the first to transplant the spirituality of Christian-Catholic civilization to the New World and established the tradition of Christian humanism in the Americas. Among his major works, the following deserve special mention: Recognitio summularum (a compendium of logic), Dialectica resolutio (a commentary on Aristotle's Categories and Posterior Analytics ) and, above all, Los libros del alma. Physica speculatio, the original title, is indicative of an empiricorational investigation, relating to the philosophy of nature.
A true disciple of the philosophia perennis, Fray Alonso achieved his philosophic synthesis by virtue of his openness to many sources of truth and to diverse modes of philosophic thought. While he shows his indebtedness to the Thomistic tradition, marked originality as well as a strongly Augustinian emphasis is evident in his extensive discussion of the passions and in his analysis of the active intellect. His epistemology is in essential agreement with that of Francisco de vitoria.
Bibliography: a. de la vera cruz, Investigación filosófico-natural: Los libros del alma, libros I y II, ed. o. robles (Mexico City 1942); De justo bello contra Indios (bilingual ed.) (Madrid 1997). e. j. mccarthy, The Augustinians in Primitive Mexico, 1533–1572 (Washington 1938). l. ortiz del castillo, "La filosofía natural de los vivientes en Fray Alonso de la Vera Cruz," Anuario de filosofía del seminario de investigaciones filosóficas 1 (1943) 9–45. w. redmond and m. beuchot, Pensamiento y realidad en Fray Alonso de Vera Cruz, 1507–1584 (Mexico 1996).
[k. f. reinhardt]