Zeno: The time of the present is limited

Zeno of Kition is considered the founder of the Stoa. A philosophy in which one considers the entire existence in complete totality and takes his place in this order through emotional self-control. Here it is important to understand that although one cannot change all external circumstances, one can determine one's own reaction towards these circumstances.

Anyone who studies a bit about different philosophies will already have come across the statement that one should live in the here and now. With the help of a quote from Zeno of Kition I will examine with you the stoic version of this maxim.

"Infinite is the time of the past and the future; the time of the present is limited."

Zeno of Kition

Whether Zeno of Kition already played with the idea of the big bang is not known to us, but let's assume that this was not the case. If therefore Zenon did not assume that the time began sometime with the big bang, but always existed then the infinity of the past is already given.

Since the universe for Zenon had no beginning, he will probably not have assumed that it will have an end. Even with the knowledge we have in the twenty-first century, it is inconceivable from the human point of view to grasp the magnitude of the past and the future. From the human point of view, we can hardly remember or imagine 50 years.

Since the Stoics were very aware of what a small role they played in the great game of the universe or existence, they knew that they could hardly make a difference. What they could influence, however, was their immediate environment, through their own decisions. This is only a very small sphere of influence, however, one can actually change something here.

Since one has only a limited lifetime, one also has only an uncertain long present. This uncertain long present should be exhausted to the greatest possible potential, because if one does not use it now, one will not be able to use it at all. If one does not make use of the full potential in the own present, always and always less usable present will remain.

In short, Zeno wants to remind us that we should use the time we are given. That we should not live in the past or the future. We must be aware of the here and now or we will not have lived at all.

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