“The ancient athanasias pharmakon, the medicine of immortality, is more profound and meaningful than we supposed.” – Carl Gustav Jung.
In the last blog we found two facets of time – the metaphysical notion of the present moment and the physicist theory of space-time with layers of past, present, and future. Within these we now seek an analytic interpretation of immortality for humans.
First we need to make a fundamental distinction between sempiternity which is the word many philosophers use for everlasting existence and eternity which they reserve for timelessness. The former allows the possibility of a beginning, but no end (or even an end, but no beginning), while the latter does not. The universe then is sempiternal (assuming the Big Bang theory is correct) whereas the number ‘2’ is eternal.
Most traditional concepts of immortality are in fact references to sempiternity. It seems we must concede that the living form of man is not sempiternal, however deeper scrutiny reveals the subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules that compose our bodies do meet the same standard as the universe in this regard. The chains of causation that follow our actions also lead to endless effects. Arguably our thoughts or mental energy are analogous to other forms of energy such as heat or electromagnetic radiation and are indestructible although transformable components of the universe. On the physicists view, our life spans occur within a continuum of events in the universe that make up an immeasurable slice of space-time.
Therefore, through the physical make-up of our bodies, the energy of our thoughts, the chain of causation of our actions, and our existence within a space-time slice, we are in fact sempiternal beings in spite of our limited life span.
In our next blog we will look at possible interpretations of human eternity.