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Section 12

12. We are brought thus to the conception of a Natural-Principle- Time- a certain expanse [a quantitative phase] of the Life of the Soul, a principle moving forward by smooth and uniform changes following silently upon each other- a Principle, then, whose Act is sequent.

But let us conceive this power of the Soul to turn back and withdraw from the life-course which it now maintains, from the continuous and unending activity of an ever-existent soul not self-contained or self-intent but concerned about doing and engendering: imagine it no longer accomplishing any Act, setting a pause to this work it has inaugurated; let this outgoing phase of the Soul become once more, equally with the rest, turned to the Supreme, to Eternal Being, to the tranquilly stable.

What would then exist but Eternity?

All would remain in unity; how could there be any diversity of things? What Earlier or Later would there be, what long-lasting or short-lasting? What ground would lie ready to the Soul's operation but the Supreme in which it has its Being? Or, indeed, what operative tendency could it have even to That since a prior separation is the necessary condition of tendency?

The very sphere of the Universe would not exist; for it cannot antedate Time: it, too, has its Being and its Movement in Time; and if it ceased to move, the Soul-Act [which is the essence of Time] continuing, we could measure the period of its Repose by that standard outside it.

If, then, the Soul withdrew, sinking itself again into its primal unity, Time would disappear: the origin of Time, clearly, is to be traced to the first stir of the Soul's tendency towards the production of the sensible universe with the consecutive act ensuing. This is how "Time"- as we read- "came into Being simultaneously" with this All: the Soul begot at once the Universe and Time; in that activity of the Soul this Universe sprang into being; the activity is Time, the Universe is a content of Time. No doubt it will be urged that we read also of the orbit of the Stars being Times": but do not forget what follows; "the stars exist," we are told, "for the display and delimitation of Time," and "that there may be a manifest Measure." No indication of Time could be derived from [observation of] the Soul; no portion of it can be seen or handled, so it could not be measured in itself, especially when there was as yet no knowledge of counting; therefore the Soul brings into being night and day; in their difference is given Duality- from which, we read, arises the concept of Number.

We observe the tract between a sunrise and its return and, as the movement is uniform, we thus obtain a Time-interval upon which to measure ourselves, and we use this as a standard. We have thus a measure of Time. Time itself is not a measure. How would it set to work? And what kind of thing is there of which it could say, "I find the extent of this equal to such and such a stretch of my own extent?" What is this "I"? Obviously something by which measurement is known. Time, then, serves towards measurement but is not itself the Measure: the Movement of the All will be measured according to Time, but Time will not, of its own Nature, be a Measure of Movement: primarily a Kind to itself, it will incidentally exhibit the magnitudes of that movement.

And the reiterated observation of Movement- the same extent found to be traversed in such and such a period- will lead to the conception of a definite quantity of Time past.

This brings us to the fact that, in a certain sense, the Movement, the orbit of the universe, may legitimately be said to measure Time- in so far as that is possible at all- since any definite stretch of that circuit occupies a certain quantity of Time, and this is the only grasp we have of Time, our only understanding of it: what that circuit measures- by indication, that is- will be Time, manifested by the Movement but not brought into being by it.

This means that the measure of the Spheric Movement has itself been measured by a definite stretch of that Movement and therefore is something different; as measure, it is one thing and, as the measured, it is another; [its being measure or] its being measured cannot be of its essence.

We are no nearer knowledge than if we said that the foot-rule measures Magnitude while we left the concept Magnitude undefined; or, again, we might as well define Movement- whose limitlessness puts it out of our reach- as the thing measured by Space; the definition would be parallel since we can mark off a certain space which the Movement has traversed and say the one is equivalent to the other.

Next: Section 13