Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nothing to Add or Subtract

Remember the song 'Perfect' (1988) from pop band Fairground Attraction: song and lyrics? The song that tells us that 'it's got to be perfect' and not take 'second best'?

'Perfect'. Just a random word that all of us understand and comprehend. Really?

Give it a word and 'it' will come alive in our mouth and mind. For the ancient Egyptians a physical object, human being or enemy was born the moment you gave it a name by writing it down. Came alive by naming it!

The word 'perfection' was born a long time ago. Literally the Latin word 'perfection' means 'a finishing' or 'bringing to an end'. The genealogy of the concept 'perfection' reaches back to the ancient Greek word 'teleos'. The oldest definition is from Aristotle (4th century BC) and is more than 2,300 years old. I can't find the word 'perfect' in the quote? Correct :) in English the word 'telos' is translated as 'complete'.
Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book V, chapter 16. 
Quote from 'The Complete Works of Aristotle, Revised Oxford Translation'
Edited by J. Barnes (1984)

Summerized. Aristotle calls 'perfect':
  • 1. Which contains all the requisite parts
  • 2. Which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better
  • 3. Which has attained its purpose
Pretty down to Earth isn't it what Aristotle calls 'perfect' or 'complete'? A shoe that contains all the requisite parts. A flute-player that couldn't play better. Death as the last end of life.

After the ancient Greeks, the Christians "translated" the concept of 'perfect' to God. According to the Christians, human beings are never perfect after Adam and Eve ate from the apple. They make mistakes, sin and always there is something to add or subtract in what they do and let. Only God is perfect and we - human beings - have to embrace the fact that we are not. Never!

Somewhere in the 17th Century, God died in the main culture of Western Europe. 'Democracy' as a God was born. 'Love' as a 'God' was born. 'Peace (not War)' as a God was born. It has to be perfect. Nothing less. For that 'homo-sapiens' fight and kill.

Democracy as a Natural Law. Love as a Natural Law. Peace (not War) as a Natural Law. What a nonsense. It's projection. Made and invented concepts by 'homo-sapiens' in Western Europe. Historically biased.  Culturally biased. 'Homo-sapiens' biased. Individual 'homo-sapiens' biased. Highly subjective.

Look at the 'Venus de Milo'. Once this marble statue must have had arms too. Not perfect as a copy of a female body. Once the statue must have been without damages. Not perfect because of the damages in the marble. She is admired for her beauty. For some she is not perfect because of her hairstyle or the way she wears her skirt. For some this statue is the perfect representation of Greek classical art. For some  she will not be.

What's my point? 'Perfect' is a moment frozen in time. In a metaphor: it's a photo. Appreciated by some. Disgusting for others.

P.S. I wrote on 'Democracy' before: here (2009). And on 'God = Love': here (2010)

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