“Perfection” means absolute adherence or correspondence to a standard of value.
Perfection is possible, and it’s a contextual issue.
If you take a 10-word spelling test, and you spell all ten words correctly, then you have executed the test flawlessly; perfectly.
If a person is declared to be in “perfect health,” it means that every part of his body is working as it should. It does not mean that he is invincible to disease, or that he might not occasionally battle a rhinovirus, and certainly not that he’s automatically going to live forever without a single speck of effort. (It also doesn’t mean that he can’t raise his level of fitness still higher if he does put in the effort.)
If one claims that a thing is perfect – or imperfect – one needs to know the standard against which it’s being evaluated. You cannot claim something is “imperfect” by reference to an irrational or impossible standard.
One often hears the charge of imperfection raised against the human mind: Because our minds aren’t omniscient or infallible, our perception is “imperfect” and thus cannot be trusted. Such charges disregard the mind’s specific identity, and hold it to a mystical standard.
In order to determine the standard of perfection for a given thing, one must look at its nature and its specific identity.
Take the Atlas Shrugged definition of moral perfection – i.e., perfection as it applies to a human being – as unbreached rationality. “Not the degree of your intelligence, but the full and relentless use of your mind, not the extent of your knowledge, but the acceptance of reason as an absolute.” (Atlas Shrugged)
Is perfection of this kind possible? Not only possible, but necessary – if life is one’s standard of value.
THIS is my idea of perfection:
All my life, I have heard myself denounced; not for my faults, but for my greatest virtues. I have been hated, not for my mistakes, but for my achievements.
I have been called selfish for the courage of acting on my own judgment and bearing sole responsibility for my own life. I have been called arrogant for my independent mind. I have been called cruel for my unyielding integrity. I have been called anti-social for the vision that made me venture upon undiscovered roads. I have been called ruthless for the strength and self-discipline of my drive to my purpose. i have been called greedy for the magnificence of my power to create wealth.
My pride and my power of vision were all that I owned when I started – and whatever I achieved, was achieved by means of them. Both are greater now. Now I have the knowledge of the superlative value I had missed: of my right to be proud of my vision. The rest is mine to reach.