In Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale hero gets the job - from folded pieces of ice the word "Eternity", for which the Snow Queen promises him "the whole world and a pair of new skates into the bargain."
In this story it is easy to see the allegorical image of humanity, which for centuries trying to unravel the mystery of eternity.
Eternity is one of the most difficultand controversial philosophical categories. Complexity and contradiction lies in the fact that eternity - is the opposite of time. But man, like the rest of the world around him, there is a time. Therefore, an attempt to understand eternity is equivalent to an attempt to go beyond their own existence.
Eternity in its highest manifestationsas the condition of anything or anyone that is not subject to any changes. Not to be confused with a similar state of static and oppose development. It does not need any development, because development - a gradual movement towards perfection, to the fullness of life. It is assumed, at least in theory, that one day the perfection is reached, and the movement is completed.
Condition of absolute eternity initiallyIt embodies the perfection and fullness of being, accordingly, it has no beginning and no end in time. The notion of time to a state practically inapplicable. That's what seems an eternity in God's monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism.
Eternity as the cyclical
Another idea of eternity is associated withendlessly repeating cycles. The easiest option - the perception of time in the pagan cults, based on the worship of the forces of nature: in winter always comes spring, for spring - summer, autumn, winter again, the cycle repeats continuously. This cycle is observed all the inhabitants, their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, so something different, in principle, impossible to imagine.
This idea of eternity is being developed in a number of philosophical systems, in particular in Stoicism.
Eternity as a property of the universe
The question of eternity all is closely connected with the question of the eternity of the universe.
In medieval philosophy, the universe is having a beginning in time (Creation) and end in the future.
view appears in the New Age of Sciencestatic universe. Newton put forward the idea of the infinity of the universe in space, and Kant - a beginningless and endless its time. The theory of a static universe, in which it could be considered eternal, prevailed in science until the first half of the XX century, when it come to replace the model of the expanding universe and the Big Bang.
According to the Big Bang theory, the universe has a beginning in time, physicists were even able to calculate its age - about 14 billion years. From this point of view, to consider the Universe eternal impossible.
Concerning the future of the universe among scientists thereconsensus. Some believe that the expansion will continue as long as the whole body does not decay into elementary particles, and it can be considered the end of the universe. According to another hypothesis, the expansion to contraction, the universe will cease to exist in its present form.
Under these hypotheses, the universe is noteternal. But there is a hypothesis pulsating universe, the expansion is replaced by contraction and compression - expansion, and it happens repeatedly. This corresponds to the notion of eternity as the endless repetition of cycles.
Today it is impossible to answer unequivocally which of these hypotheses is closer to the truth. Consequently, the question of the eternity of the universe remains open.