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Eternity in common parlance is an infinitely long period of time. In classical philosophy, however, eternity is defined as what exists outside time while sempiternity is the concept that corresponds to the colloquial definition of eternity.
Eternity is an important concept in many religions, where the god or gods are said to endure eternally. Some, such as Aristotle, would say the same about the natural cosmos in regard to both past and future eternal duration, and like the eternal Platonic forms, immutability was considered essential.
Aristotle argued that the cosmos has no beginning. In Aristotle's Metaphysics, eternity is the unmoved mover (God), understood as the gradient of total synergy ("produces motion by being loved"). Boethius defined eternity as "simultaneously full and perfect possession of interminable life".
Eternity is often symbolized by the image of a snake swallowing its own tail, known as the Ouroboros (or Uroboros). The circle is also commonly used as a symbol for eternity, as is the mathematical symbol of infinity, . Symbolically, it suggests that Eternity has no beginning or end.
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- "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Eternity". Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
- Yu, Jiyuan The Structure of Being in Aristotle’s Metaphysics Springer, 2003, p. 188
- Boedder, Bernard. "Natural Theology". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
Aeternitas est interminablis vitae tota simul et perfecta possessio