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Time and Eternity in Mid-Thirteenth-Century Thought$
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Rory Fox

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199285754

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199285756.001.0001

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(p.282) 9 Eternity
Time and Eternity in Mid-Thirteenth-Century Thought

Rory Fox

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines one of the most significant 13th century atemporal terms, aeternitas. The English word typically used to translate this term is ‘eternity’, and is used by contemporary philosophers in both an everlasting (extensional) and timeless (non-extensional) sense. It is shown that medieval minds did not necessarily think of eternity in the durational way that contemporary philosophers do. They often preferred to construe eternity in terms of limitlessness and the different ways in which a particular could be limitless. As a result, there were at least ten different ways in which 13th century thinkers could use the word aeternitas (eternity). To distinguish between uses of aeternitas which were intended to convey notions of extensional or nonextensional existence, medieval thinkers distinguished between ‘less proper’ and ‘more proper’ uses of the word, reserving the more proper uses for non-extensional notions.

Keywords:   eternity, aeternitas, existence, 13th century, everlasting

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