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René Fouéré - The Complete Act

René Fouéré - The Complete Act

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Published by helabz
In what follows, an act means not merely an action, an isolated physical or mental movement,
but also all the material and psychological operations resulting in a distinguishable and
significant change, expressible in terms of a particular intention or aim.
In what follows, an act means not merely an action, an isolated physical or mental movement,
but also all the material and psychological operations resulting in a distinguishable and
significant change, expressible in terms of a particular intention or aim.

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Published by: helabz on Jun 23, 2009
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THE COMPLETE ACT - VIEWED STATICALLY By René Fouéré(Published in The Vedanta Kesari. August 1947)Translated from the original article in French, by P. Seshadri Iyer, Travancore University.In what follows, an act means not merely an action, an isolated physical or mental movement,but also all the material and psychological operations resulting in a distinguishable andsignificant change, expressible in terms of a particular intention or aim.Thus, we shall call by the name of complete acts those acts which are sufficient by themselves,which are complete in themselves. They are finished acts like a melodious phrase which hasreached its end. That is why we can call them perfect in the sense in which the Greeksunderstood the idea of perfection. During the duration of complete acts, there is a rigorousconcord between the being and the will to be or at least between that which can immediatelymanifest itself as the being and the will to be.There are acts which, though they are outwardly completed, leave an impression of incompleteness in the mind of the agent. The complete acts we have in view are above thisdistinction. In the expression ‘complete act’ the word act is taken in the sense of total act, of theact visualized all together of the external and the internal, in its double aspects, material andpsychological. The complete acts are, then, the acts doubly achieved and to say that they aresufficient by themselves means that they also fully suffice for their agent. Hence, no sense of desire can have any relation to complete acts. All desire is directed towards satisfaction andwhere there is full satisfaction, there is no room for desire. No one desires for a thing hepossesses at the time he possesses it.The complete acts are, therefore, acts essentiality satisfying. They are happy acts. He, whoaccomplishes them expresses himself in them fully and adequately, recognizing himself in themunreservedly. They do not leave in his mind any remorse or regret or any unpleasant emotionalresidue. If they actually leave any such residue, and if the person feels the desire to return tothem with a view to complete them, it is sure proof that something is lacking therein and thatthey do not constitute an authentic expression of the profound will and intention of the agent.The internal aspect of the complete act follows from its very definition. The complete act leavesnothing to be desired so long as it lasts. It therefore follows that it can have no internalcontradiction. Such a contradiction implies the simultaneous existence of two or moretendencies, two or more incompatible desires. From that time onwards, the complete realizationof these tendencies and desires becomes impossible. Although he may take and play any part, theagent cannot express himself fully in that. One or more of these conflicting desires will remainunfulfilled. He has the sense of non-fulfillment, desire, dissatisfaction. Consequently, an act is
 
not complete unless it is done by an agent in whom all internal contradictions have ceased to be.In other words, the complete act implies, realizes, a total concentration of the powers of theagent, a mustering of all his powers in an instant.To say that the complete act has, as its agent, only one in whom all internal contradictions haveceased, means that during the whole duration of such an act, a person who is engaged thereinloses consciousness of himself.In order that the agent, who is essentially subjective, may externalize or objectify himself, hemust cease, somehow to coincide with himself. In other words, the consciousness of oneself implies the development of a pseudo-subject, added on to the real subject. That pseudo-subject isevidently virtual, similar to an optical illusion but it implies an apparent dissociation from theone conscious and active centre. This dissociation creates two poles in consciousness, whichidentifies itself with one of the poles thus formed (Whose contents become the unconscious) andsupports itself on it for observing and appraising the other, the functions of each of them beingpermutable for the time being.All consciousness of oneself is then the product, the expression of an internal contradiction,latent or manifest, giving birth to two indispensable terms, the observer and the observed.If all contradictions cease and if the agent coincides continually with himself, he will cease toperceive himself, because all separate knowledge implies a preliminary distinction between theKnower and the known.The complete act, in which all internal contradictions have ceased, is, therefore, incompatiblewith the consciousness of oneself. Does not this, moreover, imply the idea of a being whichconsiders itself as living but which does not fully live and which is not fully engaged in its ownaction? The subject of the complete act is too intensely occupied in living to have the time tolook at himself as living, far too concentrated on his act, to interest in himself as the agent. Inother words, the complete act is the act in which one forgets oneself.We have already indicated that it is also the act in which one is oneself. Further, to realize fully,to become completely oneself, is to lose all self-consciousness as an agent. To the man whoconsiders himself as a distinct self and does not wish to shed his individuality, this sustainedexpansion of his Self, this Supreme fulfillment appears as annihilation. Viewed from outside, thisplenitude seems to be a void and the frightened individual hangs distractedly to his self-consciousness, that bundle of painful contradictions. The dismay at the threshold of ultimaterealization is the irony of humanity.
 
If, with Bergson, we mean by a free act, an act “which emanates from our entire personality’’and presents with it “that indefinable resemblance we find now and then between work and theworker’’, then the free act is the complete act, which instantaneously musters all the powers of the being and in which the being recognizes itself. The liberty, thus visualized, is the absence of all internal contradiction. Moreover, it alone can be experimentally verified; we can have a directnotion, a vivid feeling of it, so far at least as it manifests itself as the removal of a previousconstraint. It ceases to be perceived when it continues without interruption and the agent findshimself securely in a state of pure existence above all the oppositions of constraint and liberty.Although we can hold it as objectively limited in its extent as well as in its results, the completeact is essentially and psychologically unlimited. If the mathematical infinity is that beyond whichwe cannot go, the psychological infinity is beyond which one does not desire to go. When an actor a presence fills us, and absorbs all the powers of our emotion and thought, when nomovement or desire can be conceived leading us beyond the state where we are, that state is trulywithout limits; since there cannot be the feeling of any bounds except when there is the desire totranscend them. We may even say that desire is only the fact of recognizing consciously theselimits. Thus the complete act is infinite, not in the sense of a kind of accumulation and not in themanner of spatial extension, but in so far as it is without internal limits.This absence of limits or what amounts to the same thing, of all contradiction, all internalresistance, leads to the result that in the judgement of the agent, the complete act is totallyperformed without any tinge of ‘ quality ’, as the word is understood by the Scholastics. Thecomplete act is, then, in the language of Scholastic Philosophy, a pure act.It is not merely a pure act in the above sense, but it is also pure as an act, which is accomplishedfor its own sake, is not stained by any selfish motive and is its own end. If, in truth, the completeact was in the intent of its agent only the means for a farther act, if he pursues through it a remoteand more important result, it cannot suffice in itself and is not complete in itself. It will leavebehind it as well as even in the course of its formal accomplishment, a heavy sense of incompleteness and impatience. It will only be the commencement or part of a still unachievedact which will constitute the veritable object of desire and which alone can be complete in itself.The complete act contains in itself its own end and reward. It is not purchased for anyrecompense, and it is not wrested by any constraint. It is not brought about by the attraction of arepresentation of the future, by the fascination of an ideal distinct from itself. It is not directedtowards any end external to it. It surges by itself. Each of its movements springs from anunprompted and always realizable impulse. It is not a groundless act. It is an act which containsits own reason and realizes its object at the very instant it is conceived. Otherwise, if the actremains in suspense in some manner the vital force restrained in it will become desire — just asthe living force of a spring whose movement is hindered becomes pressure. There will be at the

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