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By Nicholas Rescher

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Its anonymity is essential. The mind does not find itself faced with an apprehended exterior. The exterior — if one insists on the term — remains uncorrelated with an interior. It is no long given. It is no longer a world. What we call the I is itself submerged by the night, invaded, depersonalized, stifled by it. The disappearance of all things and of the I leaves what cannot disappear, the sheer fact of being in which one participates whether one wants to or not, without having taken the initiative, anonymously.

The present refers only to itself, but this reference, which should have dazzled it with freedom, imprisons it in an identification. The present, free with respect to the past, but a captive of itself, breathes the gravity of being in which it is caught up. For there is a gravity in the heart of the present, despite its break with the past. The fatality which bears down upon the present does not weigh it down like heredity, and is not imposed on it because it was born without having chosen its birth.

On the other hand, the relationship between time and existence seems equally evident and simple, throughout the whole of philosophy — with the exception of Heidegger, who makes of just this a problem. The extension of time appears as the very extension of existence. Perennial existence is a higher form of existence. It is true that there is eternity, which time does not gnaw away at, even above perennial existence. But this superiority of eternity is due precisely to the fact that time does not gnaw away at it.

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