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For eternal truths, in the customary use of the term, do not ‘exist’ at all as such; they ‘hold’, or (to use the current philosophical cliche) they ‘subsist’. And that is so because they are abstractions; in Humian phrase, they are ‘relations of ideas’ and not ‘matters of fact’. They may be true of existence, they are not themselves existences. Now Spinoza’s point of view is essentially different, and nearer to that of Plato in the ancient world than to that of Empiricism in the modern, though it is remote from both.

3713 E 26 AETERNITAS the time in which I did once act and live; my future is the period in which I shall live and act; while my present is that duration in which alone I act, and which is thus the time that I perceive, and in which I remember, perceive, and anticipate. So far I have not sought to pass from ‘subjective’ duration, not even in the discussions of the ‘eternal now’ ; I have not attempted to escape from the relations of past, present, and future, which are ‘subjective’ in their reference.

Cog. M et. ) 17 24 AETERNITAS to relate the conceptions of eternity and duration without re­ ducing either to illusion. As I have already noted, a very clear account of it is to be found in the treatise of Boethius which directly and indirectly exercised so great an influence over Western thought. 3 The essential thing in such an experience is after all not its infinite extent, but its single posses­ sion ‘all at once’4 yet without loss of the specific temporal flavour; and the main limitation of a temporal existence is its inability to comprehend the whole space of its life at once.

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Aeternitas: A Spinozistic study by H. F. Hallett

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