13n | CR Note on eternity [1941]

Eternity can be taken, as (1) either thought, or
(2) as lived, or (3) in its suchness. In the first
case, objects are outside time, in the second
our own life. In its own suchness, eternity un-
thinkable, though qualitatively different from
time, does yet not exclude non-eternity or im-
permanence, does not contrast itself with them.
This intellectual contradiction betokens the
defeat of thought in its attempt to understand

(1) When thought takes eternity not so much as it
is, but in its bearings on temporal things, it
is contrasted with time, in the 4 aspects men-
tioned in ch. I(   ). 'It never was, and never
will be since it is, Now, all of it together,
entirely one and indivisible.' Or it 'is a tot-
al & perfect possession of a life without end
all at once'.

We now regard things on the background of et-
ernity, and assume that the relation of things
to eternity reveals their true essence, that
they have their being not in their own right, as
independent entities, but only in comparison
with and in relation to something else. All
things appear as nothing, or as one, or as self-
contradictory when thought considers them in
their essential relation to eternity.

a) If eternity transcends & excludes successive-
ness & change, & if it is taken as the stand-
ard which reveals the true being of things, we
can arrive at the reality of things by subtrac-
ting the temporal factor from their appearance.
On this level then everything would be one, &
thereby nothing in particular; all successive
change would be illusory; never anything would
really happen; nothing would begin, nothing end;
all multiplicity would fade into unity, all
content into vacuity. The reference to eternity
would dissolve things as they appear. It would
lead to their nothingness. It is, of course, not
truly so that there is nothing where there was
something. What is meant is that our thought
cannot pursue the process of the dissolution