By H. F. Hallett
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Extra resources for Aeternitas: A Spinozistic study
But if I am right in my assertion that pastness, presence, and futurity belong not so much to time as to the place of the individual ‘subject’ in time, and his relations to the time-series, then the next step in the assay of time must be the correct analysis of this situa tion with a view to obtaining, if possible, a conception of the nature of duration out of relation to individual experiences or events located in it. I shall thus at the same time be able to examine the contention that it is precisely this relation to individual experience or occurrence, and the consequent misreading of the character of duration, which incapacitates all enduring existence for survival in the Real; since divisibility and successiveness, which together constitute the prima facie vice of time, are the result of this very relation.
1 A N IN F IN IT E S P E C IO U S P R E S E N T Enough has perhaps been said to bring out the essential nature of a specious present as a ‘ duration block’ containing past and future without serious confusion in a single act of perception. Its element of past is neither remembered nor inferred; its element of future is neither inferred nor expected; but both are directly perceived in a moving stretch of duration. The first difficulty about the extension of this conception to the whole of time is that in our experience the present is not at rest, but moves continuously forward towards the future, so that time, as it were, sweeps back through it.
The assertion that it is the nature of Reason to conceive things sub quadam specie aetemitatis 1 must not be interpreted as if its objects were ‘ideal contents’ or ‘floating ideas’ applying at any point of time because independent of time-reference; its objects are individual existences which are also universal by reason of their amplitude. There is another interpretation which may be, and has some times been, given to Spinoza’s conception of eternity, which, though perhaps less inadequate in intention than the view I have been discussing, is still irreconcilable with his general trend, no less than his definite assertions.