Sub Specie Aeternitatis

From Weekly I/O#30

Sub specie aeternitatis: To inspect things under the aspect of eternity and participate in eternal totality.

Book: Great Thinkers

The Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza argued that there's two way of looking at life: to see it egoistically from our limited point of view (Sub specie durationis in Latin or under the aspect of time) or to see it globally and eternally (Sub specie aeternitatis in Latin or under the aspect of eternity).

Sensual life pulls us towards a time-bound view in egotistical terms. However, Spinoza tries to teach us to look at things, especially our suffering and anxiety, under the aspect of eternity. That is, as though we were gazing down our body at earth from a very far away planet. From this lofty view, anything that makes us disappointed no longer has to be so severe. What is a failure in a job interview when contemplated from the lunar surface? What is a rejection from the crush under the earth's 4 billion year history?

Our nature always limits our views. But our reasoned intelligence can give us access to another perspective. As Spinoza put that, it can allow us to participate in eternal totality.

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