JOST on the physical presence of time in eternity

I’m convinced (a) that science, philosophy, and theology all look for a major conceptual breakthrough on the nature of time, and (b) that the incredibly complex and subtle teachings  that medieval theologians had to set out in understanding the relation between time and eternity have a role to play in that breakthrough. So I’ve been fascinated for years with JOST’s thesis that temporal things are present in eternity not merely in God’s mind (or, as we might put it, the mind of a scientist or Laplacian demon) but also really and physically. JOST is a both very organic and repetitious, and it’s not always clear where the first thread of the argument starts, but I’ll just dig around in Prima Pars Q. X disp. 9, a. 2 and 3. Numbers in what follows are paragraphs. 

3.) Eternity is properly and in fact a measure of created duration, even if it is not proportioned to it (inadaequatam) and far exceeds it. 

That it exceeds follows from two facts: (1) its extension contains all durations, without beginning or end, and without being restricted to only their genus and (2) in its modality of measurement, which measures according to an immutable modality, not through number but through the highest unity and indivisibility.

That this captures the mind of DT is commonly held by his disciples, Cajetan (in Prima Pars q. 14 a. 13), Banez, Navarrete, Zumel, Nazarius, Gonzalez, Ferrara (I contra. Gent. c. 66) Capreolus (I D. 36 q. 1 a. 2)…

4.) And that this in fact expresses the mind of DT can be gathered from many places. First of all from Contra Gentes c. 66 (ar. no. 6):

Eternity : whole duration of time :: the indivisible : continuum, and the “indivisibility” spoken of is not that of the terminus of the continuum, because this is not present to all the parts of the continuum. Rather its indivisibility, though outside the continuum, is still present to any part of the continuum as a point is designated in the continuum, for time does not exist outside motion while eternity does, and so is outside of time. Again, since the esse of eternity never ceases to be, it is present as the present time is present (presentaliter) to each time and moment of time.

And so he concludes:

 So whatever exists at any point in time co-exists with eternity as present to it, even if it is past or future with respect to some other part of time.

He says the same in Quodlibet V, art. 7:

Because that which is by itself is the measure of that which exists by taking part in it, the first measure of the aevum is God’s own eternity.

Thus DT joins both the idea of a first or supreme measure and the idea of co-existing with all things measured, resulting in all that is required for something to contain another as its measure.

5.) This all agrees with DT’s proof that God intuitively sees all things done in time or in other created durations because they are present in eternity, and this requires the real and physical presence of the things measured in eternity, so eternity is truly and properly speaking a measure. The minor premise follows from the nature of intuitive vision, which regards the thing seen as really and physically present in itself. So if DT proves that things are really and intuitively seen by God,  not as they are present in their own domain of measurement but as present in eternity, and this sort of intuitively known presence requires the thing seen to be really and physically contained under some measure of duration, DT cannot believe that eternity is not a measure of created things in the manner required for the presence of a thing seen by intuition.

The major premise is manifestly taught by DT, as is clear from De veritate 2. art. 12 and q. 12 art. 6:

That God knows the future as certainly as he knows the present follows from this: it is measured by the eternity of his intuition, which is wholly simultaneous, and so all times and things done in them fall under his gaze.

There are other places too, that we will consider in the following article, where we we show that DT cannot be understood to have held that the presence of things in eternity was merely in the act of his knowledge, but is rather physical and real, under the supposition that the things are intuitively attained in eternity itself, and not just as they exist from their causes.


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