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Soul - Time and eternity

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022


(Armstrong   Selection and Translation from the Enneads  )

[Time is the life of the soul   in movement, when it goes   out from its rest in the world of Noûs to form the restless succession of the universe in which we live: eternity is the unmoving unbounded life of the world of Noûs.]

We must return to the disposition which we said existed in eternity, to that quiet life, all a single whole, unbounded, altogether without divergence, resting in and directed towards unity. Time did not yet exist, not at any rate for the beings of that world ; we shall produce time by means of the form and nature of what comes later. If, then, these beings were at rest in themselves, ’how did time first come out?’ We could hardly, perhaps, call on the Muses  , who did not then yet exist, to tell us this; but we might perhaps (even if the Muses did exist then after all) ask time when it has come into being to tell us how it did come into being and appear. It might say something like this about itself: that before, when it had not yet in fact produced this before’ or felt the need of what comes after, it was at rest with it in real being; it was not yet time, but itself, too, kept quiet in the reality [of Nous]. But since there was a restlessly active nature which wanted to control itself and be on its own, and chose to seek for more than its present state, this moved and time moved with it: and so, always moving on to what comes after and is not the same, but one thing after another, we made a long stretch of our journey and constructed time as an image of eternity. For because Soul had an unquiet power, which wanted to keep on transferring what it saw There to somewhere else, it did not want the whole to be present to it all together; and as from a quiet seed the logos  , unfolding itself, advances, as it thinks, to largeness, but does away with the largeness by division and, instead of keeping its unity in itself, squanders it outside itself and so goes forward to a weaker extension; in the same way Soul, making the world of sense   in imitation of that other world, moved with a motion which was not that which exists There, but like it, and intending to be an image of it, first of all put itself into time, which it made instead of eternity, and then handed over that which came into being as a slave to time, by making the whole of it exist in time and encompassing all its ways with time. For since the world of sense moves in Soul — this universe has no other place than Soul — it moves also in the time of Soul. For as Soul presents one activity after another, and then again another in ordered succession, it produces the succession along with the activity, and goes on with another thought coming after that which it had before, to that which did not previously exist because discursive thought was not in action and Soul’s present life is not like that which came before it. For a different kind of life goes with having a different kind of time. So the spreading out of life involves time; life’s continual progress involves continuity of time, and life which is past involves past time. So would it be sense to say that time is the life of soul in a movement of passage from one way of life to another? Yes, for if eternity is life at rest, unchanging and identical and already unbounded, and time must exist as an image of eternity (in the same relation as that in which this universe stands to the world of Noûs), then we must say that there is another life having, in a way of speaking, the same name as this power of the soul, and, instead of the motion of Nous, that there is the motion of a part of Soul; and, instead of sameness and self-identity and abiding, that which does not abide   in the same but does one act after another; and, instead of that which is one without distance or separation, an image of unity, one by continuity; and, instead of a complete unbounded whole, a, continuous unbounded succession and, instead of a whole all together, a whole which is and always will be going to come into being part by part. For this is the way in which it will imitate that which is already a whole, already all together and unbounded, by intending to be always making an increase in its being: for this is how its being will imitate the being of Nous. But one must not conceive time as outside Soul, any more than eternity There as outside Real Being. It is not a consequence of Soul, something that comes after (any more than eternity There) but something which is seen along with it and exists in it and with it, as eternity does There with Real Being.