7. Now comes the question whether, in all this discussion, we are not merely helping to make out a case for some other order of Beings and talking of matters alien to ourselves.
But how could that be? What understanding can there be failing some point of contact? And what contact could there be with the utterly alien?
We must then have, ourselves, some part or share in Eternity.
Still, how is this possible to us who exist in Time?
The whole question turns on the distinction between being in Time and being in Eternity, and this will be best realized by probing to the Nature of Time. We must, therefore, descend from Eternity to the investigation of Time, to the realm of Time: till now we have been taking the upward way; we must now take the downward- not to the lowest levels but within the degree in which Time itself is a descent from Eternity.
If the venerable sages of former days had not treated of Time, our method would be to begin by linking to [the idea of] Eternity [the idea of] its Next [its inevitable downward or outgoing subsequent in the same order], then setting forth the probable nature of such a Next and proceeding to show how the conception thus formed tallies with our own doctrine.
But, as things are, our best beginning is to range over the most noteworthy of the ancient opinions and see whether any of them accord with ours.
Existing explanations of Time seem to fall into three classes:
Time is variously identified with what we know as Movement, with a moved object, and with some phenomenon of Movement: obviously it cannot be Rest or a resting object or any phenomenon of rest, since, in its characteristic idea, it is concerned with change.
Of those that explain it as Movement, some identify it with Absolute Movement [or with the total of Movement], others with that of the All. Those that make it a moved object would identify it with the orb of the All. Those that conceive it as some phenomenon, or some period, of Movement treat it, severally, either as a standard of measure or as something inevitably accompanying Movement, abstract or definite.