Explanations usually involve the notion of time. When we have an explanation for why the earth is round, we think of a mechanism or process that caused the earth to be round. But this involves time and by extension implies that the thing we are trying to explain has a beginning.

But say that thing has no beginning, such as a posited eternal universe or an eternal god. What would an explanation of these entities look like?

Positing an eternal entity seems to almost be a trick of sorts. It seems to escape the need for explanation in terms of the usual sense. But at the same time, it does seem intuitive that asserting an eternal entity shouldn’t come without consequence. How would then one show that asserting this is unreasonable or requires explanation?

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    A name, Sean Carroll (philosophical physicist/physicistic philosopher).
    – Hudjefa
    Sep 7, 2023 at 3:10
  • "Eternal" is a somewhat nefarious term, because the initial interpretation would be that it has always existed (an infinite existence, from the "beginning of time"), but that would be incompatible with a few apologetics (apologists specifically take issue with infinite regress, which that wouldn't solve... not that they're do much more than assert a solution in any case). Many theists will instead say that God exists "outside of time", which seems entirely incoherent and little more than contrivance for the sake of rendering God immune to counter-arguments.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 7, 2023 at 10:21
  • Perhaps we're under some kinda magical spell.
    – Hudjefa
    Sep 10, 2023 at 6:06

1 Answer 1


The most reasonable explanation is one that I have encountered in our tradition. If something only is, that is, if defining its nature requires no category, then it's beyond all categories including time, space, accidents, causation, etc.

For that thing only is, i.e. pure being and purely being.

It took much time for modern philosophy to recognize the distinct nature of the concept, being, until Martin Heidegger.

Being is supremely fundamental in that any other category presupposes it. That is, you can't think of time, space, casualty, accidents, etc, unless being is already presumed.

But being can't be equated or identified with any of those categories. So it somehow transcends them all.

Now being can't be just a logical abstract (contrary to Kant) for then negating being of any object would be meaningless. Analyzing concepts of individuation or instantiation would also yield concept of being, hence they are equivocal with being.

So being must have an actual referent. But we learned the referent must not be any category. Now if it is beyond any category and it is beyond an abstract, it's not just beyond time, it's beyond any explanation including causal explanation. In fact, being is the basis of every explanation, therefore itself unexplianable or self-explanatory, i.e. self-evident.

Yeah, it is really something extraordinary. Being needs no explanation.

Thus Sufi metaphysicians thought they had identified the concept of God in being! God is beyond anything and needs no explanation, but everything needs God for explanation. Being thus understood is God philosophical.

[PS per comments:]

To fully recognize this profound analogy, note that being is in some sense vague and abstract for its meaning is empty of any determination. So being which is the most fundamental concept is the most abstract and yet it's not merely a mental construct. It must have a referent otherwise as I said its predications would not apply to the world.

Now if you broadly consider the concept of God, it has the same features: ineffable (as in indeterminate or abstract like being) yet fundamental; immanent in every phenomena (like how being is the condition of all categories) yet transcendent (as how being can't be reduced to/identified with any category hence transcendental); and finally unitary as being due to its indeterminate nature can't have multiple instances, therefore it is necessarily unitary, a special kind of unitary that somehow encompasses the multiplicity of the phenomenal world.

The analogies with God as you see are profound!


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