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July 29, 2019 / Congau

Imperfect Perfection

Perfection can never be achieved, but still it is an ideal. That is not a contradiction. Ideals as such cannot be attained and that’s what makes them ideals. They are images of something that doesn’t exist in the physical world, but they still have their origin in existing things.

Whenever we look at an object or a phenomenon, we may be tempted to imagine what it would look like if all its shortcomings were removed and it appeared in glorious splendor. Such a fantasy may be quite an innocent temptation. It’s not at all bad to stimulate one’s imagination and let the mind fly away to a world that never was. It doesn’t hurt to dream about a better world and picture things as they would look if it they were improved. It may even serve as a useful incentive for progress. But what would be bad, and what is often disastrous, is to demand instant gratification and launch a revolution that aims for all or nothing. You can’t get it all, so the result is likely to be nothing.

Aiming for perfection leads to certain misery but moving toward it can bring you to a better place. Even Utopia, a fantasy world, can be practically useful if soberly understood. By imagining an ideal one gets a sense of direction. That ideal may be infinitely far away but at least it may give us a perception of the immediate path of improvement that is to be traveled. Only when knowing the direction, can the next step be known.

Perfection doesn’t exist. It is the mathematical limit that can never be reached but can always be approached. It cannot be grasped, so don’t try to grasp it. It cannot be seen, so don’t try to look at it. But it can be envisioned and felt and imperfectly understood. It is nowhere but it can lead the way.

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