By H. F. Hallett
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Extra info for Aeternitas: A Spinozistic study
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. It approaches most nearly to his view of eternity as the form under which Reason, rather than the third kind of knowledge (scientia intuitiva) conceives things. In so speaking I am careful to correct the suggestion that the phrase ‘sub quadam specie aetemitatis’ is to be taken as implying that there is in the Real more than one kind of eternity, and, at the moment, to draw only the distinction between two modes of apprehending it: its formal conception by Reason, and its concrete enjoyment in scientia intuitiva.
For though it is conceived as an order of existences, this is not the order that characterizes the Real. Such an identification would imply that the order of things in time is, with minor corrections for the spatio-temporal perspective of the experient, the real order of existences. But according to Spinoza it is not so: for him the real order is the logical or intellectual order, which is not a mere corrected temporal order, but proceeds on a different plan: there is no point-to-point correspondence between events in time and the stages of logical order.
Si regeris, cur eas aeternas veritates non voco? respondeo, ut eas distinguam, uti omnes solent, ab iis, quae nullam rem, reive affectionem explicant, ut, ex. gr. a nihilo nihil f i t ’ (E p. ) C f. Eth. II, xl, Sch. i. ’ (De Intell. , O p. , p. ) 3 T IM E , D U R A T IO N , A N D E T E R N IT Y 17 simpliciter, but as existence of a certain kind. 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.