Perfection describes a state that cannot be improved any further. Complete takes on a multiple meaning: on the one hand in the sense of flawlessness ( Latin integritas ), i.e. a condition free of damage , on the other hand in the sense of coming to perfection or perfection ( Latin perfectio ), i.e. as the final result of a series of improvements that can be completed as absolute inner expediency . What these two meanings have in common is the context of unsurpassability - the flawless or perfect state is a maximum of what can be achieved in each case - here it is reminiscent of the conceptual field ideal .
The ancient or medieval concept of perfection revolves around the concept of entelechy : the perfect entity is a wholeness that is based on the fact that all its parts are subject to a common, “complementary” purpose. Plato's Timaeus describes a perfect body as a self-contained and ordered and therefore beautiful whole, which cannot (and must) change further and has nothing existing outside of itself. This last property is taken as the central one by Aristotle ; perfect is "that outside of which not a single part can be found" ( Metaph . 4,16,1021bsq.). An object in general becomes perfect when it undergoes an improving change in which a telos that is initially directed towards an outside of itself is finally completely directed towards itself and thus becomes an end in itself . In Aristotle's ethics , the Arete stands for moral perfection. By Thomas Aquinas differentiation comes the perfection term in perfection and completion ( integritas immersive perfectio ).
At least since Thomas Aquinas, perfection has also been a classic attribute of God . Its absolute perfection is eternal. H. unworn and cannot be lost. Since there are no accidents in God , God does not have perfection as a property, but is (essentially) perfect, yes perfection or being itself (see natural theology ).
The modern concept of perfection comes from the idealistic currents of the 18th century and is closely linked to the concept of progress . For Kant and his predecessors Christian Wolff and Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten , perfection is a term used in ontology : it describes the completeness of a being as the meeting of all possible determinations of an object to form a harmonious unit or order. The perfect is a “full”, an abundance of possible parts, for which no further part is missing. It is therefore characteristic of the perfect that it does not need any further thing and is therefore a) completely autonomous and b) no longer capable of further development and thus no longer time. Since in principle a possible supplement can be found for every real being, provided it is finite, perfect facts can only be found in the realm of abstraction or with God. In the realm of the finite, however, perfection becomes a regulative idea; a state that cannot be achieved, but must be striven for - this is the ethical perfectibility of man.
- Roland Galle: Art. Perfection / Perfection , in: Karlheinz Barck et al. (Ed.): Basic aesthetic terms. Volume 6. Stuttgart and Weimar 2005.
- Geoffrey Wainwright: Kind. Perfection . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie 35 (2003), pp. 273–285 (with further references)
- Władysław Tatarkiewicz: O doskonałości (On Perfection), Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1976.
- Arthur Schopenhauer : The world as will and conception , chap. Of the nothingness and suffering of life