[Smt-talk] Origin of "Semper idem…"

William Pastille william.pastille at sjca.edu
Thu Nov 15 05:42:21 PST 2012

I was able to find the following passage from Augustine's Confessions, Book 8, Chap. 3:

nam tu semper idem, quia ea quae non semper nec eodem modo sunt eodem modo semper nosti omnia.

That is, 

For you [are] always the same thing, because you know in the same way all those things that are not the same nor in the same way.

The meaning is, I think, that God must be in one and the same state eternally, because his omniscient knowledge has to comprehend in one selfsame act (both all that is eternal and) all that is mutable.

One can argue with the metaphysics, but let's think about what this means for the world we live in: if God is to be immanent in this mutable world, then there must be a connection between His eternal unchangeability (semper idem) and the worlds continual change (non semper nec eodem modo). In Meisterwerk, Schenker implies, I think, that God may be the "background" of our phenomenal world. Transference of this notion to his analytical levels is obvious, with the difference that Schenker is able to show the connections visually so that they may be grasped by the mind's eye and ear, whereas finding the "prolongations" that connect God to the world of phenomena has not yet been made visible in so graphic a form.
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