Idipsum in Augustine's Confessions

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Idipsum in Augustine's Confessions

By | July 2006
Page 1 of 10
Idipsum in Augustine's CONFESSIONS

Introduction
Interpreting this term idipsum in Augustine's Enarrationes in Ps. 121, 3, Aimé Solignac translates idipsum as Being itself (L'Être même) in his supplementary notes to the Confessions (BA 14, 550-552). According to Solignac, firstly idipsum has a biblical meaning; ‘ego sum qui sum and qui est' in Exodus. Secondly it has a metaphysical meaning; Being or existence in the precise meaning. Being unchangeable. Being everlasting. Solignac's conclusion is in general correct. However, it seems to me the connotation of term is more subtle. Furthermore any effort of defining of this term idipsum is impossible. Idipsum is idipsum. Augustine himself says: what is idipsum? How can I find any other expression than idipsum? In my paper I would like to try in the following order to approach to the puzzling significance of this term idipsum in the Confessions.

i) Idipsum in the case of Augustine's reading Psalm 4 (Conf. 4, 8-11) ii) Idipsum in the experience at Milan (Conf. 7, 10, 16)
iii) Idipsum in the experience at Ostia (Conf. 9, 10, 23-26)

Part 1. Idipsum in Psalm 4
1.1 Discovery of the self :

Before examining the notion of idipsum in the remarkable passage that Augustine wrote about his mystical experience at Ostia (In this paper O is an abbreviation of Augustine's experience at Ostia), I would like to draw attention to the dramatic scene of Augustine's reading Psalm 4, in Book 9, 4, 7 (Here, P is an abbreviation of for the scene of Augustine reading Psalm 4). Is there a significant relationship, between P and O? Or, is there no particular connection? It seems to me, there is a profound connection.1 Augustine focuses his thought on the term idipsum in Psalm 4, verse 9, in P. P prepares the ground for Augustine's meditation that is later developed in O. While reading Psalm 4 at Milan, Augustine proceeds through each verse by merely reciting and singing with charged emotion, but without giving any...