31 Dec 2008

Spinoza, Ethics Part 1, Definition 8

by Corry Shores
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[the following is quotation; my summary and commentary is in brackets. The Latin text comes last.]

Spinoza, Ethics

Part I "Concerning God"

Definition VIII:

VIII. By eternity, I mean existence itself, in so far as it is conceived necessarily to follow solely from the definition of that which is eternal.

[Something is eternal when nothing temporally limits it. Such a thing would exist necessarily, because there is nothing else to limit its existence. So it follows from its nature or definition that it necessarily exist eternally. Eternity is the existence of such an eternal thing whose existence follows from its definition in this way].

Explanation–Existence of this kind is conceived as an eternal truth, like the essence of a thing, and, therefore, cannot be explained by means of continuance or time, though continuance may be conceived without a beginning or end.

[We may think of time or duration without beginning or end, but this still is not the existence of something eternal. Something eternal would not exist in this continuum of time, even though it could be the foundation for everything else in that continuum.]

From the Latin:

VIII. Per æternitatem intelligo ipsam existentiam, quatenus ex sola rei æternæ definitione necessario sequi concipitur.
Talis enim existentia, ut æterna veritas, sicut rei essentia, concipitur, proptereaque per durationem, aut tempus explicari non potest, tametsi duratio principio, et fine carere concipiatur.

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