On the first page we looked at wikipedias definition of perfection, which says that Perfection is, broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness. We then quickly figured out that Nature is far from being complete and flawless. But what about the definition itself? I mean, is there anything that actually is "complete and flawless"? If there is one thing (apart from your mother, spouse or child ;-), please let us know via the Nature-sucks forum.
I don't think so, therefore I would like to propose another definition of perfection. It is not as strict as the common classification, as I consider the concept of “perfection” to be actually the result of comparisons.
“Perfection is a collectively perceived state in reference to the mean of other states.”
Simply put, perfection is the result of comparisons. This means that after we made comparisons, we derive at subjective or collective perceptions of perfection. Whatever it is we find perfect seems better overall than similar things or conditions (Being better can represent attributes like functionality or beauty).
Example: An attractive woman who appears to have physically perfect attributes. We perceive her to be more beautiful than other women after having compared her with them. According to western standards a physically perfect woman has features that others seem to lack. She is likely to have long shiny healthy looking hair, is not shorter than average, has a feminine slim figure, full lips, distinctive “beautiful” eyes, a pointy nose and so forth. A woman with all these features is considered better looking on average than other women. International fashion models in general are examples of what “perfect” women and men are supposed to look like. And while most of the contestants of a beauty contest fulfill the requirements of being considered perfect in comparison to average looking people, there are still differences within the group that make it to the final. Again, comparisons are made and the winner is the person who ever fits the bill best at the time.
Of course these judgments are fallible, depending on the jury, the way the contest is evaluated and how many models and voters are allowed to participate. However, the principle that is applied remains always the same. We compare one person, thing or condition to another. This in essence happens regardless of time in history. It doesn’t matter what the desired physical features in an attractive person where 10 000, 500 or 20 years ago, or in the same year in different cities, the process of comparisons is the central aspect and remains the same.
A perfect car could represent another example. If there was a car that would only use 1 liter of petrol for 100 000 km, has all other features that modern luxury cars have and only costs 5000 Euros to buy, we would consider it to be the perfect car “right now”. We would consider it the perfect car because we compare it to cars that aren’t as good and lack features. Other cars use up a lot more petrol and are pricier. This I believe is how we derive at the notion of perfection.
With nature it is not much different. We compare the things that nature contains and does with our abilities. As humans’ we cannot produce all the things that nature does, all the animals, all the plants, humans and other natural elements. And since nature “appears”, to be more powerful, influential and controlling than us, we consider it to be perfect. However, this is a mistake to do. We cannot compare ourselves with nature, since we are part of it. It would be like comparing an arm with an entire person, or a cars mirror with an entire car.
But perhaps it isn’t the case and we don’t compare mighty nature with us, but think it is perfect for other reasons. See chapter “Why everyone thinks Nature is perfect”. The chapter "What is perfection?" was added to help understand the human concept of perfection and the possible relationship to nature. A lot of people consider nature to be perfect, when clearly it is not.
I think a good example to demonstrate the point would be to imagine another planet similar to earth. The planet would be of similar size, have similar continents, oceans, plants, animals and humans and it would have a similar climate with seasons, just like on earth. The only difference on this planet to our planet would be that animals and humans would live on vegetables. No animal and no human was harming another living being. There would be no serious illnesses and no wars. People as well as animals would live content and happy lives, free from fear and worry. The opportunities, resources were shared equally among people and it the end of their time people would die happy. Comparing the nature on this planet with earth, which one would you consider perfect? Where would you want to live?
Just some thoughts…
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What is perfection?
According to Wikipedia Perfection is, broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness. However, Nature is everything but flawless. No doubt, there are many things that are beautiful and very good in terms of function, setting aside the philosophy and meaning about beauty, which represents a separate topic to talk about.
Looking into a valley, observing a waterfall, gazing into a sunset, watching a pretty colorful animal or an attractive person are all situations that generate nice feelings. Looking forward to seeing a loved one or holding them in our arms. No doubt, all these are collectively experienced beautiful moments and aspects in our lives. But what about the not so beautiful side of nature?
Is it beautiful to watch a pack of lions ripping a gazelle apart? Is it beautiful to witness one’s own or someone else’s child to die from an illness, hunger, accident or brutal unprovoked attack? Is it really so nice to grow old, become increasingly dependent and die in the end? Not only that, we are also aware of the fact that we are dying and this is not the most comforting thought to many of us. How many people have a terminal illness and it’s only a matter of short time for them to live? Apart from that, how much do we suffer when our parents, spouses or other close people come to harm or pass away? We don’t even need to go to the extremes of suffering and dying. What is perfect about mosquitoes sucking blood? This is a very annoying feature in nature. Not only can it ruin someone’s day at the lake, terrace or sleep at night. You could also end up with a serious short-term or chronic illness and potentially even end up dead. Who says that a mosquito could only suck blood in order to survive? It could also collect pollen of flowers, suck on oranges or bananas without causing harm or being a disturbance to others. Who says that a lion, eagle, crocodile or shark cannot live on vegetables?
Just because this is how it is does not mean that this was the best and only way to go. Giraffes, elephants, gorillas and horses are an example for animals that can live without eating another individual. A lot of situations in nature could have been a whole lot better, particularly to those who represent easy preys with lots of enemies. Nature is everything, but perfect. So why keep lying to ourselves that it is perfect, when clearly it is not?