Leibniz is committed to a form of cosmic eternity, on account of his natural theology and foundations for dynamics. However, his views on perpetuum mobiles entail that a particularly attractive type of cosmic eternity is out of reach for Leibniz.
Modernity seemed to be the autumn of eternity. The secularization of European culture provided little sustenance to the concept of eternity with its heavy theological baggage. Yet, our hero would not leave the stage without an outstanding performance of its power and temptation. Indeed, in the first three centuries of the modern period – the subject of the third chapter by Yitzhak Melamed - the concept of eternity will play a crucial role in the great philosophical systems (...) of the period. The first part of this chapter concentrates on the debate about the temporality of God. While most of the great metaphysicians of the seventeenth century – Suarez, Spinoza, Malebranche, and Leibniz – ascribed to God eternal, non-temporal, existence, a growing number of philosophers conceived God as existing in time. For Newton, God’s eternity was simply the fact that “He was, he is, and is to come.” A similar view of God as being essentially in time was endorsed by Pierre Gassendi, Henry More, Samuel Clarke, Isaac Barrow, John Locke, and most probably Descartes as well. In the second part of the chapter we study the concept of eternal truth, and its relation to the emerging notion of Laws of Nature. The third part of the chapter explicates Spinoza’s original understanding of eternity as a modal concept. For Spinoza, eternity is a unique kind of necessary existence: it is existence that is self-necessitated (unlike the existence of other things whose necessity derives from external causes). Eternity is the existence of God or the one substance. Yet, Spinoza claims that if we conceive finite things adequately - “sub specie aeternitatis” – as nothing but modes flowing from the essence of God, even finite things (like our minds) can take part in God’s eternity. The fourth and final part of the chapter is mostly focused on the reception of Spinoza’s original conception of eternity by Leibniz and other eighteenth century philosophers. (shrink)
The paper will explore a key tension between eternity and temporality that comes to the fore in the seeming contradiction between freedom of the human will and divine foreknowledge of future contingents. It will be claimed that Duns Scotus’s adaptation of Thomas Aquinas’s view reduces the tension between a human being’s freedom and divine foreknowledge of future contingents to the question of how to conflate the now of eternity and our experience of the instantaneous now. Scotus’s account of (...) the matter is unfortunately not satisfying and it is the purpose of this paper to develop this insight further in a speculative manner. In order to make such co-nowness possible, it will be asked how the eternal and the temporal can co-cause together. This problem will be tackled through a development of Scotus’s doctrine of the will taken elsewhere, in order to examine how the divine and the human wills can occur together. It will be claimed that such co-willing produces a co-nowness of the eternal and the instantaneous ‘nows’ which generates a logical temporal movement. (shrink)
In the Incoherence of the Philosophers, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali raised objections against the doctrine of the ‘philosophers’ on 20 specific points. In the first, and longest discussion, he examines and rebuts four of their proofs of the pre-eternity of the world—that is, that the universe as a whole had no beginning but extends perpetually into the past. Al-Ghazali rejects that doctrine. But his own position on the issue does not become clear until he discusses the philosophers’ ‘second proof.’ In (...) this paper, I will examine the relevant text of the Incoherence of the Philosophers, in order to clarify the nature of Al-Ghazali’s position in relation to the second proof. I will explain why Al-Ghazali cannot adopt what I refer to as the ‘naïve’ theological position, according to which God temporally preceded the world. Instead, Al-Ghazali concurs with the philosophers that time is the measure of motion, but he asserts that time was created with the world, both having a beginning before which there was no time. God, on the other hand, is not temporally prior to the world, but neither is he simultaneous, as the second proof supposes. As timelessly eternal, God bears no temporal relation to the world at all. In conclusion, I describe what I refer to as a naïve philosophical position, which is entailed by the second proof, but distinct from both Al-Ghazali’s position and that adopted by Ibn Rushd in his critique of Al-Ghazali in the Incoherence of the Incoherence. I argue that this naïve philosophical position is incoherent. (shrink)
This paper discusses some views defended by Brian Leftow in his book *Time and Eternity*. There is a revised version of this paper that is incorporated into my later book *Describing Gods: An Investigation of Divine Attributes* (CUP, 2014).
In the last chapter of De immortalitate animae, Pomponazzi claims that the question of immortality, just like the question of the eternity of the world, is a neutral problem. In this paper I claim that Pomponazzi has usually considered the aeternitas mundi as a probable proposition in the Aristotelian sense, rather than as a problem. Furthermore, I evaluate some analyses that use the former issues (among others) to interpret Pomponazzi’s thought.
Eternity is a unique kind of existence that is supposed to belong to the most real being or beings. It is an existence that is not shaken by the common wear and tear of time. Over the two and half millennia history of Western philosophy we find various conceptions of eternity, yet one sharp distinction between two notions of eternity seems to run throughout this long history: eternity as timeless existence, as opposed to eternity as (...) existence in all times. Both kinds of existence stand in sharp contrast to the coming in and out of existence of ordinary beings, like hippos, humans, and toothbrushes: were these eternally-timeless, for example, a hippo could not eat, a human could not think or laugh, and a toothbrush would be of no use. Were a hippo an eternal-everlasting creature, it would not have to bother itself with nutrition in order to extend its existence. Everlasting human beings might appear similar to us, but their mental life and patterns of behavior would most likely be very different from ours.The distinction between eternity as timelessness and eternity as everlastingness goes back to ancient philosophy, to the works of Plato and Aristotle, and even to the fragments of Parmenides' philosophical poem. In the twentieth century, it seemed to go out of favor, though one could consider as eternalists those proponents of realism in philosophy of mathematics, and those of timeless propositions in philosophy of language. However, recent developments in contemporary physics and its philosophy have provided an impetus to revive notions of eternity due to the view that time and duration might have no place in the most fundamental ontology.The importance of eternity is not limited to strictly philosophical discussions. It is a notion that also has an important role in traditional Biblical interpretation. The Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew name of God considered to be most sacred, is derived from the Hebrew verb for being, and as a result has been traditionally interpreted as denoting eternal existence. Hence, Calvin translates the Tetragrammaton as 'l'Eternel', and Mendelssohn as 'das ewige Wesen' or 'der Ewige'. Eternity also plays a central role in contemporary South American fiction, especially in the works of J.L. Borges. The representation of eternity poses a major challenge to both literature and arts. The current volume aims at providing a history of the philosophy of eternity surrounded by a series of short essays, or reflections, on the role of eternity and its representation in literature, religion, language, liturgy, science, and music. Thus, our aim is to provide a history of philosophy as a discipline that is in constant commerce with various other domains of human inquisition and exploration. (shrink)
This dual-language book is a translation of John Pecham’s De aeternitate mundi, written probably in 1270. Pecham was born in England around 1230. He pursued studies in Paris, where he may have been a student of Roger Bacon’s, and at Oxford. He returned to Paris some time between 1257 and 1259 to study theology and in 1269-1270 became magister theologiae. It was at this time that he presumably wrote the essay translated here, and presented it as part of his inception, (...) the equivalent of a doctrinal defense, in 1271, when he sought to become a magister regens, a member of the theological faculty. While Pecham was studying in Paris, two controversial theological "innovations" were being debated. The first issue involved the founding of the mendicant orders in the first decade of the thirteenth century. Their active moving about, preaching and teaching, represented a departure from the established Rule of St. Benedict in which Orders were largely confined to monasteries. The second debate was over the introduction of the "new" philosophy of Aristotle. The Dominicans and Franciscans found themselves allied against the Latin Averroists on such issues as the unicity of the intellect and the assertion of the world’s eternity in the sense that is was not created. The two Orders disagreed, however, on the truth of other Aristotelian theses such as the unicity of substantial form and the demonstrability of the world’s having a beginning in time. On another front, having to do with the legitimacy of the Dominicans and Franciscans interpretation of religious life, the two Orders united under attacks from the secular clergy. Pecham, a Franciscan, witnessed his Order allied with the Dominicans against Averroists and secular clergy, and at odds with them over Aristotelianism in orthodox theology. During this tumultuous time Pecham met, and probably discussed his inception with Thomas, and his position on the eternity of the world can be compared to the treatment of the topic found in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure. In 1279, Pecham was named the Archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Nicolas III, in this position it was expected that he carry out reforms mandated by the Council of Lyons. The ruling of that council included the eradication of the Averroists radical departures from theological philosophy and some of the theses held by the Thomists. Pecham died in 1291, no doubt in disappointment that the reforms for which he had strived never came to pass. (shrink)
In Book XI of the Confessions Augustine claims that time has its beginning and ending in eternity. In Being and Time, Heidegger claims that death is the ultimate futural possibility for authentic human existence. These two texts, one from the fourth century, the other from the twentieth century, depict two very different perspectives on what limits the human conception of time. Can these perspectives be reconciled? Severson offers a new reading of the Confessions that affirms Augustine's religious quest for (...) understanding while taking into account the constraints of modern criticism. (shrink)
This volume examines and compares the approaches of Fakhr-al-Dīn al-Rāzī and Thomas Aquinas to the question of the eternity of the world, and brings out some similarities and differences of their approaches between them as well as in relation to their own traditions, Islam and Christianity respectively.
It is the laws of nature, among other things, that allow for the periodic processesthat underlie isochronic clocks. Is God in any Measured Time? If not, does our Measured Time measure the eternity of God? I will argue that God is not in any ...
In this paper I defend the eternity solution to the problem of human freedom and divine foreknowledge. After motivating the problem, I sketch the basic contours of the eternity solution. I then consider several objections which contend that the eternity solution falsely implies that we have various powers (e.g., to change God’s beliefs, or to affect the past) which, according to the objector, we do not in fact have.
God is the ‘high and lofty One who inhabits eternity’, declared the prophet Isaiah, but exactly how we are to understand the notion of eternity is not clear. Traditionally, the Christian church has taken it to mean ‘timeless’. But in his classic work on this subject, Oscar Cullmann has contended that the New Testament ‘does not make a philosophical, qualitative distinction between time and eternity. It knows linear time only…’ He maintains, ‘Primitive Christianity knows nothing of a (...) timeless God. The “eternal” God is he who was in the beginning, is now, and will be in all the future, “who is, who was, and who will be” .’ As a result, God's eternity, says Cullmann, must be expressed in terms of endless time. (shrink)
This paper develops a detailed reading of Deleuze's philosophical study of Bacon's triptychs in Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. It examines his claims regarding their apparent non-narrative status, and explores the capacity of the triptychs to embody and express a spiritual sensation of the eternity of time.
This paper addresses three issues. In the first part the relation between consciousness and time is being discussed as it developed in the history of philosophy and theology. This covers Plato, Plotinus and St. Augustine. It continues in the second part to describe that time is being perceived in the mystical consciousness as eternity which means in this context timelessness. Examples from world religions are offered. The question is asked if this eternity in mystical experience can be understood (...) as relating to the eternity of God or as a mere self-experience. In order to settle this question mystical experiences are being interpreted from the angle of modern neuroscience as the result of self-organizing processes of meditation that can be described as attractors. In the final third part it is suggested to discern the eternity of mystical states of mind as timelessness from eternity as an attribute of the triune God. (shrink)
Should we interpret God’s eternity as mere everlastingness or as timelessness? We are still confronted with an ongoing debate between the two positions. That God is timeless or completely outside time might be called ”the classical view of divine eternity’. But this view can be interpreted in various ways. In reverting to some of Aquinas’ texts I want to focus on the account of God’s timelessness as a perfection. In trying to defend this view I will not offer (...) any new arguments; I simply adopt the classical assessment of the meaning of the predicates we use when we speak about God. That God lives, loves, thinks, acts, etc., are claims which cannot be understood in the same way as when they are made of human persons. (shrink)
I use Jonathan Bennett’s, Gilles Deleuze’s and Pierre Macherey’s interpretations of Spinoza to extract a theory of time and duration from Spinoza. I argue that although time can be considered a product of the imagination, duration is a real property of existing things and corresponds to their essence, taking essence (as Deleuze does) as a degree of power of existing. The article then explores the relations among time, duration, essence and eternity, arguing against the idea that Spinoza’s essences or (...) Spinoza’s eternity are atemporal. Essences and eternity both involve necessary references to time, but the time involved is not that of the “fortuitous sequence of events” apprehended through sensory experience. Rather, the “time” is that implicit in the necessity of God’s self-determination through God’s differentiation into natura naturans and natura naturata, which is involved in the production and differentiation of eternal essences. (shrink)
The book Time and Eternity , the English version of Zeit und Ewigkeit , by Antje Jackelén, contains scientific and theological treatments of these two topics, starting with the usage of such ideas in German, Swedish, and English hymns. This essay describes her work and explains how the scientific ideas provide a coherent framework for understanding the place of time.
This article proposes a reconstitution of the philosophical tenor of al-Fb al-Mawdayyira). It is shown that this work is not only a response to book VI of John Philoponus' Contra Aristotelem, but that its real issues can only be grasped in the context of the author's metaphysical system. Although, for al-Fbī, genuine demonstrations proceed from the cause to the caused, thus following the order of being, it will be explained how he also admits a strictly physical proof of the simple (...) fact, independently of its cause, and that the physical demonstration of the eternity of the world pertains to this type of proof. This physical proof is specifically directed against the Kindian doctrine of creation. (shrink)
Scotus consistently holds that eternity is to be understood as timelessness. In his early Lectura, he criticizes Aquinas’ account of eternity on the grounds that (1) it entails collapsing past and future into the present, and (2) it entails a B-theory of time, according to which past, present and future are all ontologically on a par with each other. Scotus later comes to accept something like Aquinas’ account of God’s timelessness and the B-theory of time which it entails. (...) Scotus also offers a refutation of his earlier argument that Aquinas’ account of eternity entails collapsing past and future into the present. (shrink)
The central debate of natural theology among medieval Muslims and Jews concerned whether or not the world was eternal. Opinions divided sharply on this issue because the outcome bore directly on God's relationship with the world: eternity implies a deity bereft of will, while a world with a beginning leads to the contrasting picture of a deity possessed of will. In this exhaustive study of medieval Islamic and Jewish arguments for eternity, creation, and the existence of God, Herbert (...) Davidson provides a systematic classification of the proofs, analyzes and explains them, and traces their sources in Greek philosophy. Throughout the study, Davidson tries to take into account every argument of a philosophical character, disregarding only those arguments that rest entirely on religious faith or which fall below a minimal level of plausibility. (shrink)
According to a widespread tradition in philosophical theology, God is necessarily simple and eternal. One objection to this view of God's nature is that it would rule out God having foreknowledge of non-determined, free human actions insofar as simplicity and eternity are incompatible with God's knowledge being causally dependent on those actions. According to this view, either (a) God must causally determine the free actions of human agents, thus leading to a theological version of compatibilism, or (b) God cannot (...) know, and thus cannot respond to, the free actions of human agents. In the present paper, I argue that one can consistently maintain that God is not causally dependent on anything, even for His knowledge, without being committed to either (a) or (b). In other words, an eternal God can know the free actions of agents even if libertarianism is true. (shrink)
According to an important set of medieval arguments, it is impossible to make a distinction between creation and conservation on the assumption of a beginningless universe. The argument is that, on such an assumption, either God is never causally sufficient for the existence of the universe, or, if He is at one time causally sufficient for the existence of the universe, He is at all times causally sufficient for the universe, and occasionalism is true. I defend the claim that these (...) arguments are successful. Since Christian theology requires a distinction between creation and conservation, arguments in favour of the possible eternity of the world fail. (shrink)
Spinoza's doctrine of the eternity of the mind is often understood as the claim that the mind has a part that is eternal. I appeal to two principles that Spinoza takes to govern parthood and causation to raise a new problem for this reading. Spinoza takes the composition of one thing from many to require causal interaction among the many. Yet he also holds that eternal things cannot causally interact, without mediation, with things in duration. So the human mind, (...) since it is the idea of a body existing in duration, cannot have an eternal part. In order to solve this problem, I propose an aspectual reading of Spinoza's doctrine of the eternity of the mind: the mind itself is eternal, under one of its aspects. (shrink)
A difficulty for a view of divine eternity as timelessness is that if time is tensed, then God, in virtue of His omniscience, must know tensed facts. But tensed facts, such as It is now t, can only be known by a temporally located being.Defenders of divine atemporality may attempt to escape the force of this argument by contending either that a timeless being can know tensed facts or else that ignorance of tensed facts is compatible with divine omniscience. (...) Kvanvig, Wierenga, and Leftow adopt both of these strategies in their various defenses of divine timelessness. Their respective solutions are analyzed in detail and shown to be untenable.Thus, if the theist holds to a tensed view of time, he should construe divine eternity in terms of omnitemporality. (shrink)
Rory Fox challenges the traditional understanding that Thomas Aquinas believed that God exists totally outside of time. His study investigates the work of several mid-thirteenth-century writers, and thus provides access to a wealth of material on medieval concepts of time and eternity.
The German philosopher and intellectual historian Karl Löwith is known and discussed mainly in the English language via his major work on secularization – Meaning in History, first written and published in English – and the more recently translated essays that criticize Martin Heidegger. However, Löwith’s body of work is rarely considered for the original contribution that it offers to the discourse on the questions of modernity and modern life. This oversight is due much to the way in which Hans (...) Blumenberg and Jürgen Habermas have each ‘dealt’ with Löwith’s position; Löwith in each case becomes a flagstone in the path to their own theories. This article reappraises Löwith’s thought through an exploration of his major works, and discovers that the concepts and motivations behind the critical force of his intellectual histories suggest a more sensitive reading of the modern condition than his critics allow. His notions of nature, cosmos and eternity, and his steadfast skepticism, reveal Löwith to be a theorist of the limits of human finitude, and set him apart from his contemporaries and his former teacher Heidegger. It is these aspects of his work that will continue to be provocative for both defenders of freedom and defenders of nature. (shrink)
Anselm holds that God is simple, eternal, and immutable, and that He creates “necessarily”—He “must” create this world. Avicenna and Averroes made the same claims, and derived as entailments that God neither knows singulars nor interacts with the spatio-temporal universe. I argue that Anselm avoids these unpalatableconsequences by being the first philosopher to adopt, clearly and consciously, a four-dimensionalist understanding of time, in which all of time is genuinely present to divine eternity. This enables him to defend the divine (...) perfections in question, and the claim that God creates “necessarily,” while still maintaining the position that God knows singulars and acts in the physical world—in one, immutable, and eternal act. (shrink)
According to Heidegger’s philosophy, the essence of time is not chronological; for this reason, history is not a linear succession of facts but is opened up by an event: that is what Heidegger’s philosophy reveals at first glance and it’s also what we can’t consider suspect today. But it is less obvious that the ‘base’ from which time and history will disclose themselves is the phenomenon of love: love stands out in the letters of Heidegger to Hannah Arendt as a (...) most excellent way of temporalizing time, and it allows the philosophy of finitude to be reconciled with the eternity. (shrink)
The Greek word afi≈n has a wide-ranging meaning as well as a wideranging history: it is most commonly translated as ‘eternity’ but has as its first meaning ‘life’ or ‘lifetime’; it has its place in Greek literature and philosophy, but also in the Greek Bible, where it represents the Hebrew word ‘olâm. In this article I intend to sketch the history of the meaning and interpretation of aiôn from the word’s first attestation in Homer up until the beginning of (...) the Christian era. The expanded version of this study was defended as a doctoral dissertation, entitled Life Time Entirety: A Study of AIVN in Greek Literature and Philosophy, the Septuagint and Philo, on 7 September 1999 at the University of Amsterdam. (shrink)
Antje Jackelén's book Time and Eternity is a thorough and carefully presented theology of time and, by its very essence, an incomplete and open thought model because time will always be dynamic and relational. This approach is an excellent example for the dialogue between science and religion because it uses resources not tapped in the dialogue so far: hymn-books stemming from Germany, Sweden, and the English-speaking world published between 1975 and 1995. They are taken as resources for a critical (...) investigation on the meaning and importance of the notion of eternity for the interdisciplinary dialogue, which is characterized not as a synthesis but as holding a beneficial tension, or "eutonia." I suggest that this approach can be taken even further by merging it with a model of time developed by the German mathematician A. M. Klaus Müller: The crossing over of time modes in a relational matrix of time also gives clear insights into the time of God not only as futurum —time as extrapolation of the past and present—but also as adventus —time which is to come. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the classic concept of eternity, as it is presented in Boethius, Anselm and Aquinas, must be understood to involve not only the claim that all temporal things are epistemically present to God, but also the claim that all temporal things areexistentially present to God insofar as they coexist timelessly in the eternal present. I further argue that the concept of eternity requires a tenseless view of time. If this is correct then the (...) existence of an eternal God logically depends on the truth of the tenseless account of time. I conclude by suggesting that the Christian theologian ought to reject a tenseless ontology. (shrink)
Part of the recent neglect of eternity comes from a poor definition of it as static abstraction, as mere form, or even robust form that is not so mere. This, of course, could not be what the ancients such as Origin or Plotinus must have meant when they claimed that God is eternal, and thus more real than things that change. Therefore, my first task here is to develop a contemporary theory of eternity that is worth being an (...) orientation point for time in education. I argue that the importance of eternity for education lies in the fact that true human identity—and the identity of such human affairs as might exhibit the obligations of responsibility—are eternal as well as temporal. Temporally we live day by day, with the date of the present determining the past that is actual and fixed and the future that is open in various structured ways. The temporal structure of life as such is insufficient to account for moral identity with any sense of responsibility for acting through time. In the following, I will illustrate this point and then draw a lesson about eternity from it. (shrink)
Antje Jackelén's Time and Eternity successfully employs the method of correlation and a close study of the question of time to enter the dialogue between science and theology. Hermeneutical attention to language is a central element of this dialogue, but we must be aware that much science is untranslatable into ordinary language; it is when we get to the bigger metaphysical assumptions of science that true dialogue begins to happen. Thus, although the method of correlation is a useful way (...) to approach this dialogue, there is not a strict equivalence in this relationship. Theology needs science more than science needs theology. In speaking of time and God we must keep in mind the relational nature of classical Christian theism, even in its most austere forms. We should not read Enlightenment ideas of God back into the classical Christian tradition or neglect the apophatic emphasis in Christian theism, which warned against assuming knowledge of the divine nature. God's relation to time always lies beyond our understanding. Studying the effects of either the Newtonian or Einsteinian concepts of time on our theological concepts should not detract our attention from the "lived time" that characterizes human experience. Consideration of the notion of time in the Madhyamaka Buddhist tradition reminds us that we cannot control the inner reality of time and that for humans time is something to be considered pragmatically. (shrink)
Many people still believe in life after death, but modern institutions operate as though this were the only world - eternity is now eclipsed from view in society and even in the church. This book carefully observes the eclipse - what caused it, how full is it, what are its consequences, will it last? How significant is recent interest in near-death experiences and reincarnation?