God As Pure Act, Part

God As Pure Act, Part II

Act as Completion

An act, in English, has many meanings, but we are focusing on one of the first, which relates to action: the act of stealing, of building, of seeing, of declaring something illegal. The difference between “stealing” and “the act of stealing” is that “the act of” draws out the idea that the action is continuous and a sort of whole, i.e. an act is something being done.

All the acts that are being done can be viewed as continuous, but some of them are continuous like seeing, sensing, and thinking, and others are continuous like building and declaring something illegal. While I perform the act of seeing, it is true to say during that very act, that I have seen before; but while I perform the act of declaring something illegal, it’s not true to say that during that very act I have declared something illegal. An Act, then, is either something immediately complete, like seeing, or it is an imperfect act that aims towards completion.

An act, then, denotes completion of the continuous, i.e. completion of something being done. Either the act is complete throughout, or it aims at some completion. But the act cannot be understood apart from the completion, for the completion fixes the nature of the act (there are other causes too, but the completion is necessary). What I mean, for example, is that the final structure determines that the worker performs the act of building (as opposed to some other unrelated act, like writing, or flying, or eating) Because the completion, the thing built, is necessarily related to the act of building. The act of anything is defined by its completion.

Because act necessarily relates to completion, English uses “an act” to also mean the very completion itself, as when it talks about “an act of Congress”. This sense of act means something that has been done.

And so the first thing to point out about the word “act” when used as an English noun, is that it is a continuous thing necessarily related to completion, either a completion already present, in the act, or a completion coming to be from the act, or a completion that has come to be from the act.


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