In Defense of Perfection

We tend to be subjectivists about perfection. But that is hardly the obvious view. It would have struck Descartes and most people as obviously false up until pretty recently. We may have our different tastes and this may bias us so that we have different ideas of perfection. But that’s just variation in our perceptions and opinions. Perfection might be very real and objective in spite of our differing opinions of it. 

It’s not hard to think of cases where some things are objectively closer to perfection than others. People might have a pointless debate over whether Taylor Swift is a better musician than Beyonce (as if either holds a candle to Joni Mitchell). But all these women are far closer to perfection as musicians than I am. I don’t think anyone doubts the objective truth of this comparison. If some things are objectively closer to perfection in some way, that would imply a standard of perfection that makes this so. None of us have a clear idea of just what that standard is, but that’s only because we are limited an imperfect. The idea that there is no perfection because we can’t quite imagine or define it is self-defeating since it presupposes that we have minds perfect enough to understand perfection.