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perfection in the modern society

Danny van Kessel Perfection is a term used on a daily base. A term that often goes hand in hand with words as happiness and completeness. A final goal in life, to find that perfect happiness. While everybody knows what perfection means, no two people will share an identical definition of the word. This can partially be explained by the descriptive nature of the term. Perfection is an expression of subjectivity, we use it to assign a level of value to a noun. In defining perfection, when perfection becomes the noun, it seems to lose a lot of its meaning. the second explanation lies within the subjective nature of the word. It is obvious that the direct link between perfection and the subjectiveness of a person gets in the way of a generic definition. A person is an individual, no two of them are the same. The same can be said for the views on perfection. A personal statement concerning perfection also refers to a specific moment in time. This statement is permanently under the influence of new experiences that change a persons opinion. Defining perfection regarding its dynamic character turns into an integral of snapshots. This essay is not concerned with a description of the general use of the term perfection. The goal is merely to understand perfection. To find a way of dealing with perfection and its use in the modern society. autonomous/heterogeneous In order to understand perfection, it is important to realize the difference between autonomous perfection and heterogeneous perfection. Immanuel Kant can provide a technical statement of its essential moral value by distinguishing between autonomy and heteronomy of the will1. He describes a heterogeneous will as one in compliance to rules of action that have been legislated externally to it. Such a will is always submitting itself to some other end to win over the moral sense, or seek personal perfection. In any case, the moral obligations it proposes cannot be regarded as completely binding, since the actions come from outside it. An autonomous will, on the other hand, is entirely self-legislating; the moral obligations by which it is bound are those which it has imposed upon itself while simultaneously regarding them as binding upon everyone else because of their common possession of the same

Kant explained the difference and importance of autonomy and heteronomy in his work critique of pure reason. He uses these terms in relation to the will. This text uses the definition of these terms within the context of perfection.

rational faculties. All genuinely moral action, Kant supposed, flows from the freely chosen dictates of an autonomous will [Kant 1781,Critique of Pure Reason]. Applying Kants autonomy to perfection would imply that every single being is perfect in itself. A being acts according to a set of rules or principles determined and set within that same being. Judging this being on a scale of perfectness would mean a judgement based on the same criteria that determine the being itself. Thus we reach the statement that everybody and even everything is autonomously perfect. Human nature is an aspect that could clutter this description of autonomous perfection. According to Heidegger humans differ from animals and plants in their way of being. The most significant difference between humans and animals identified by Heidegger is the idea of as. Humans are able to relate to beings as beings: to a tree as a tree or a rock as a rock. According to Heidegger, animals do not have this relation, which accounts for why their being is poor in world2. Humans are capable of looking at the world from more then one perspective. Lets say that I am the best me there is, I operate perfectly according to the rules that me consists of. What happens if I would lose an arm? Would I still be the best me? After the process of losing an arm the me has to be redefined. The me recognizes that it lost an arm and that this will be the new status quo. And thus me is still 100% autonomously perfect. Could it also mean that the me that just lost an arm is not a perfect me anymore according to that same me, in the sense that the me has been a me with two arms thus making the me with one arm incomplete. Since the argument witch led to the conclusion of the me being incomplete and thus not perfect originates from the me, one could argue that a being is not always an autonomously perfect being. What actually happens is that the me looks at the new status quo from a second perspective. It leaves the first, autonomous perspective and its moral values. By doing this it acquires a new set of values that have been legislated externally to it. The me steps outside of itself to see that it is not a perfect being, it is not the best me it can be. Me is heterogeneously imperfect. The goal of this essay is not to prove that heterogeneous perfection does not exist, but it is a very difficult thing to achieve. A person could look at an object and judge it as being perfect according to the criteria of that person. Does this

make that object perfect? Another person could look at the same object and judge it as imperfect. The separation between into individual and collective heterogeneous perfection will make the term heterogeneous perfection easier to perceive. Because of the infinite amount of rules that serve as criteria for a judgement, collective heterogeneous perfection simply does not exist. As important as it is to realize the strenuous nature of perfection, it is not all negative that encloses this term. The hindsight to perfection, the very thought of achieving perfection makes us set objectives in order to come as close as possible. These goals in life is what makes us keep going. To achieve that what has not yet been achieved in order to feel better then before. within everything lies perfection Everybody is striving for perfection. For example the company that produces the paper that this essay is printed on. This means that, in a way, the paper holds in itself a part of perfection by trying to be the best piece of paper for the purpose that it is used for. This does not mean the paper equals perfection3 in the sense that there are an infinite amount of criteria it has to for fill for it to be able to be called perfect. The fact that the paper tries to be the best piece of paper for the least amount of money and effort it takes for it to be produced means that it deals with perfection. This can be said about all the things surrounding us. Thus in a way we are surrounded by perfection. The technology we have in the modern society can be seen as a tool to further perfect perfection. We are constantly searching for a way to get closer to the utopia that is called perfection. Lets assume that perfection lies within everything, that we are surrounded by perfection4. What can the purpose of this hidden perfection be? As described before, perfection makes us set objectives. To achieve that what has not yet been achieved in order to feel better then before. So one could say that the objects around us are the result of the search for perfection, they are the products of the existence of perfection as an objective. So is this perfection a purpose that man has to fulfill in order to satisfy its needs? Do we need perfection in order to feel happy? freud The answer to this question is both yes and no. The objectives that mankind lives according to can be divided into two categories: objectives that man have to achieve in order to survive and objectives that man choose to achieve in order to enrich their lives. Freud calls the first

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From this point on this paper is only concerned with heterogeneous perfection.

Note to this statement is that surrounded by perfection does not indicate that every single object or being around us is perfect. As explained in the essay it points out the presents of perfection within the object or being.

category the basic instincts of mankind. The basic instincts are unorganized and unconscious, they operates merely on the principle to pleasure the being without realism or foresight. Freud categorizes these drives under the Es, the most primitive part of the psyche. This primal instinct is concerned with the survival of the species and the self. The Ich and ber-ich house the objectives that man choose to achieve in order to enrich their lives. The Es acts according to the pleasure principle, seeking to avoid pain or displeasure. It acts on instinctual tensions. Because of the nondurable character of the fulfillment of the needs of the Es, the happiness gained from it has a short duration. The common nature of these drifts generate a close to automatic procedure that man does not experience as an act of pleasure, it becomes an act of prevention. For example, when we experience hunger we eat in order to get ride of the unpleasant feeling hunger gives us. In essence, we eat because of the instinct to avert the uncomfortable feeling, not because we want to feel happy. Happiness can be the outcome of the act of eliminating the discomfort, but it is never a primary objective. If happiness is the primary objective for eating, then it is not categorized in the Es, but in the Ich or ber-ich; an objective to achieve in order to enrich life. The objectives generated by the Es have a common and in most cases even automatic nature of the drifts and their answer by man. We do not experience the fulfillment of these objectives as pleasure. When we are hungry, we eat. As stated before, this resolves the unpleasant feeling. When the Es is in charge of setting our objective, we do have a need to satisfy, but this nothing to do with perfection. The fact that this process happens on a unconscious level means that we have no control over it. The absence of control denies the existence of perfection within this objective5. Although we do not eat to find happiness, it could happen that we judge the food as tasty which triggers a feeling of happiness. This happiness is a reaction on the evaluation of the food, not a verdict of value on the loss of the uncomfortable feeling of being hungry. What happens if the Ich or ber-ich are in charge of generating our objectives? The Ich acts according to the reality principle; it seeks to please the Es drive in realistic ways that will benefit in the long term rather than bringing misery. Freud acknowledges at the same time that as the ego attempts to intervene between id and reality, it is often morally bound to cloak the unconscious commands of the id with its own preconscious rationalizations, to conceal the Es conflicts with

reality, to be taking notice of reality even when the id has remained rigid [Freud 1932, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis]. The Ich creates conscious objectives based on bringing well-being in the long term. This consciousness means that we experience the actuality of the objective as also its eventual fulfillment. This feeling of achievement creates happiness, a feeling of graduation. So it is not the question if we gain happiness out of fulfilling the objective, because we do. More important is if we need perfection to form an objective that in term could lead to the feeling of happiness when it gets fulfilled. happiness and perfection To answer this question we have to look at the nature of the man. If the metaphysical man is a selfish being, then every objective that it sets itself would be concerned with itself, to make it feel better, better then it was before, to achieve a (higher) form of perfection. Unselfishness is not rationally coherent. You can always find a potential benefit within the free choice that a beings makes. Even in the extreme case that a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades, the ultimate sacrifice6, it could be argued he does so because it is psychologically more comfortable for him than the alternative of having to live with the possibility that he could have saved his comrades. Otherwise why would he do it? This question can always be asked7. All this doesnt necessarily denigrate love, charity or mercy; they merely have a selfish element to them in a positive way. Man are, in essence, selfish beings which leads to the need of perfection in order for them to set objectives that ultimately lead to happiness. It is not the only way to be happy, but perfection is a indispensable ingredient to from an objective that will lead to happiness.
One could argue that within the Es, as within the entire being, lies the autonomous perfection that everything answers to. This would mean that everything has a relation to autonomous perfection in a sense that it meets its requirements. Everything would then be perfect.

The event of a soldier throwing himself on a grenade in order to save his comrades represents one of the most extreme examples of an act that many consider to be unselfish.

In case of a person being Christian of Muslim he or she might also expect other rewards.