Is Perfectionism an Ethical Theory?

In the light of the exposition of perfectionism, we are to compare it with other theories. Along with hedonism, perfectionism holds that sentence is a necessary aspect of human nature. It continues the contents of a moral life.

Hedonism looks upon pleasure as the ultimate end whereas according to perfection even happiness to say nothing of pleasure, is not an end but merely the result of the attainment of goal. Hedonism fails to explain the distinction between pleasure and happiness and neither does it solve the problem of the relation of selfishness and selflessness.

The individuals good is the absolute good according to egoistic headonism. Utilitarianism or altruistic hedonism holds that the benefit of society of the maximum pleasure of the maximum number is the aim- The utilitarianism tries successfully to establish altruism upon an egoistic basis.

Perfectionism harmonises selfishness and selflessness in absolute good or common good are inherent the interests of society and the individual. In perfect self improvement, the realisation covers both the individual and social selves.

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.

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The supreme social good is also the supreme individual good. The individual’s benefit is in self improvement. The individual should sacrifice his personal self in order to realise the perfect, ideal, social and rational self. In this way, according to perfectionism, the individual’s good is in the good of everybody and his benefits in the common welfare.

In evolutionary hedonism, society is an evolutionary structure of independent individuals. Basing moral theories upon biological theories, evolutionary hedonism incurs many fallacies in this theory. But although perfectionism does adopt the fundamental assumptions of evolutionism, it still manages to avoid these defects. It goes along with evolutionism so fare as the interdependent relation of individual and society is concerned but instead of approximating social structure to biological one, it treats at a structure of free individuals in which the interests of the society and individual are one, out different.

The individual has to attain a rational world in which his welfare is implied in the welfare of everybody. With rationalism perfectionism gives the importance to reason in human personality but on the otherhand it stresses on the organisation modifibility, and transformation of his passions, desires and feeling instead of their annihilation. Sentience is the correct of a moral life. Reason grants them from.


With intuitionism, perfectionism believes moral good to be the absolute peculiarity of the conscience. It believes moral obligation to be every lasting and the voice of the conscience to be a command. But perfectionism has not been polluted by the defects of the various intuitionist theories.

Contrary to philosophical intuitionism, the perfection conscience is neither a moral sense nor an aesthetic sense. It is the voice of the integral self.

Philosophical intuitionism too cannot explain the causes of moral because perfectionism looks upon the conscience as the voice of the integral self having taken the integral form of the self the law of conscience does not remain an external law and the source of moral obligation remains in the self.

Perfection does no look upon moral law as indescribable. It treats it as a means to self improvement. In this way perfectionism is an assimilation of the special features of all moral theories.


Idealistic and Biological of Perfection:

The idealistic view point of perfectionism was established by Plato, Aristotle, Green, Bradley and Hegel. On the otherhand, Herbert Spencer, Alexander and Leslie Stephen have taken the credit of establishing the biological view point. The two theories differ in the following respects –

1. Difference of Method:

The method of the idealists is purposivistic. The evolutionist thinkers use the historical method. Thus, idealism gives normative theories while evilusionism presents only the history of conduct.

2. Difference in ultimate aim:

According to evolutionism the ultimate aims is pleasure. Indealists are not hedonists though they believe that happiness is the result of the attainment of the aim. According idealism the ultimate aim is the realisation of the individual and social self. Evolution treats pleasure as the ultimate aim and self preservation race preservation social health and social welfare as immediate aims.

3. Difference with regard to importance of passions:

Evolutionism emphasises the satiation of passions. According to idealism we ought to control passions by reason and effect transformation of the lower self according to the nature of higher self. Evolutionism orders a life of enjoyment. According to idealism, self-sacrifice is essential for self improvement.

4. Difference in ideals:

Idealism stresses on the development of character and moral qualities. Its ideal is the perfect development of personality. Evolutionism, impressed by the example of biological life, recognises identity in duty and use of force, morality and love of power. According to it, morality is merely the means to preservation of individuals and race. Herbert Spencer imagines an ideal state in which moral obligation will no longer be present. According to idealism, moral obligation is everlasting like moral progress.

The idealist view point is more appropriate:

For the following reasons, the idealist view point is more appropriate than the evolution view points of perfection:

1. The idealist theory, view point and method are more appropriate:

Morality cannot be based on biology. Ideals cannot be extra from facts. Thus the evolutionist theory is no moral theory. Moral ideals cannot be interpreted by the historic method. For it the purposivistic view point of the idealist theory is more appropriate. Evolutionism presents the history of conducts, Idealism renders normative principles.

2. Evolutionist ultimate good is partial; the idealist is absolute:

The evolutionist ultimate good is partial and limited. Physical or bodily pleasure and welfare is only the good of inferior sentient self. According to idealism, the common good of mankind or the perfection of everybody is the ultimate good. This view point is absolute and comprehensive. In it both individual and social interests are completely assimilated. It is the good of integral self.

3. Only the idealist conception of self is appropriate:

The evolutionary thinkers recognised the inferior self as everything. Only the conception of the self as given by the idealist is real appropriate. According to it, the self has both a sentiment and a rational aspect. It is individual as well as social. In this way, the idealist view point advocates a harmony of the selfish and the selfless. Evolutionism cannot solve this problem.

4. The idealists remember the difference between biological and social structure:

The evolutionists’ proximate social structure with the biological and in the process forgets their difference. The inter dependent relation between man and society which is at the base of this simile is accepted by the idealists but they also keep in view the difference between biological and social structure. Their theory is more appropriate for explaining the relation between man and society.

5. Idealism satisfies but also controls passions:Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.

The idealists have understood better the place of pleasure in a moral life than the evolutionists. They conceded the importance of pleasure and satiation of passions but the also accept the importance of control by reason and emphasize on the transformation and refinement of desires.

Thus the idealistic view point presents a more satisfactory form of moral perfection than the evolutionistic view point.

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