13p | CR Note on eternity [1941]

or contradictory 'phases' of S, or the contradic-
torily opposed predicates belong to two succ-
essive units of duration. The 'phases' are kept
apart by an interval of duration, the two S by
their temporal determinations (as: S' is P, S" is
not P). One could as well form the opposite
habit of placing them both into one unit of
duration. Now, if the temporal determination is
external to reality, if succession & the dim-
ensions of time are not found in reality it-
self, then S' and S" are no longer kept apart
by 'time', or by a duration which is treated
not only as essentially vanishing, but as alrea-
dy vanished. In reality any event is self-
contradictory. All incompatible potentialities
will be revealed at once. The world will be a
heap of material contradictions.

This conclusion is worth mentioning in that it
throws into relief the arbitrary nature of the
arrangement of objects to which we are accust-
omed. In itself, however, it is no more then very
imperfectly true. Coexistence & simultaneity in
one instant is inlikely to mean the same thing
as 'simultaneity in eternity'. Also, 'not in a
common time' is not only negated by one common
simultaneity, but also by a multiplicity of (not
however, successive) times. In the latter case,
there would be, as we saw in ch. 2, no contradic-
tions at all.

All our thoughts of eternity are palpably in-
adequate, & so are the conclusions we draw the-
refrom. To our emancipated self eternity would
certainly be more congenial, & intelligible
than this temporal world. As it is, it is diffi-
cult to hold on to any idea of eternity which
does not soon shrink to the idea of an instant
or to the abstraction of a mathematical point.
By way of removal, ascending from the temporal
to the eternal, we can convey into the concept
of eternity only some faint feeling of
that which was and is and ever shall be, or ev-
en of the vastness of the spacious present in-
volved. We may proceed from seconds to minutes
to hours to days to months to years to genera-
tions (of 40 years each); (406.000 B.C. = 1889 EY
1 G); to historical cycles (of 12 generations