What is perfect good in philosophy

Online library


[372]perfection - The word perfection is obscure in its external history; but that for us it is only a sham concept that hardly needs to be proven any more.

Outside of German you have the Latin words perfectus, perfecte, perfectio taken over, probably also as a translation of some meanings of the Greek teleios. In Old High German, people tried to find precise loan translations of perfectus such as: duruthanthat didn't stay. A Middle High German verb volume (which has also been lost) seems to be a counterpart to the one that still exists accomplish to have been and like that perficere corresponded more precisely than we now feel. The participle "perfect" may in application perfect robe still contain something of the old sensual meaning: sufficient for fullness.

Had in ancient Latin perfectus no transcendent sense yet; perfect (parfait) was man, human activity, but also the time when a human goal (telos) was reached: about proficient. The epithet could be increased; Perfectissimus was one of the Byzantine honorary titles during the imperial era; the claim to this title even had a special name: perfectissimatus.

It was reserved for scholasticism, like many others, to reduce the concept to absurdity through subtle investigation. Perfectio, perfection In human language, as in Latin, it could only mean a relative goodness of a being or a thing; how then thinking and its concepts always move in relation. The concept of God, however, offered a very welcome opportunity to speak of an absolute perfection. If you did so, you had once again elevated a simple and, moreover, everyday concept to theological dignity. God possessed the desirable qualities of wisdom, goodness, and power in the highest perfection; it was essential for God that he perfect Possessed wisdom, goodness and power; he was perfection in person, just as he was the unreal everywhere. The creatures were not perfect, but they could grasp the concept of perfection (using the example of the concept of God) and imagine perfection as the ultimate goal, as an ideal. A progress in the world, an ascent to better conditions is assumed by many; in the language of the scholastics this belief is still sometimes found today Perfectibility called; the tendency towards absolute perfection is also understood. It is as if the doctor, who found the temperature dropped from 39.7 ° to 39.2 °, said to the patient: This is perfectibility, you are approaching perfection.

It is characteristic of scholasticism that it always considered its theological thinking to be strictly logical and also adapted it with acuteness to the logical demands. Perfection, which was a quality of the well-known God and which therefore could not be lacking in human language, had to be defined. Nothing easier than that for the long time to believe in words. "Perfectio est carentia defectus," still teaches Micraelius. "Perfection is the absence of defects"; I only need to translate in this way to make the poverty of the attempt at definition clear. The missing is a purely negative term; the mistakes but, the lack of which is supposed to constitute perfection, are not to be understood as mere negation. There must be something there that is different (but still positive) than it is should, than Essence of the thing [373] let us expect from Mistakes could be the talk of. That is why a second, finer definition was much more consequential: Perfectum est, cui ad essentiam nihil deest. Perfect or perfect is someone who lacks nothing in his being or essence. Look out for the possibility of essentia in our language Be or through Essence to reproduce.

I set Essence and assert: "Be perfect if you have nothing wrong with your being," I have with Essence to understand what is a necessary characteristic in phenomena of nature and art. And suddenly a concept from the moral field shifts into that of ontology, the target concept: that Essence of a thing reachedwhen the thing is the way it should be should. The insertion of the nominal concept into these ideas is not a work of my malice; The old Walch, who reproduces the world view of the pre-Kantian period very well, begins the corresponding article in his lexicon with the following definition: “Perfection is that quality of a thing, since it has everything in it that it essentially and its purpose, why it is, ought to have in itself. «Nobody asked with what right the nominal term, which could have a conventional meaning in relation to human actions, was extended to realities, to phenomena of nature or art. Nobody noticed that Hegel's terrible sentence "What is reasonable is real, and what is real is reasonable" (usually quoted as: "Everything that is is reasonable") in the scholastic doctrine, omne ens esse perfectum sive bonum, was anticipated long ago. And so it was at least a proof of reflection as Christian Wolf, after he had chatted enough about the perfection (Reasonable Thoughts of God, etc. II, § 234), the impossibility of accepting the perfection of the world understand, as a teaching set up. “Since the perfection of the world cannot be understood without the general harmony of things, but the general harmony of things is incomprehensible not only to a creature, but also to us not even able to say at all what it actually consists of.«[374]

In the scholastic definition I put "perfectum est cui ad essentiam nihil deest" for essentia be one, then of course the desired concept disappears; Reality and perfection coincide again, but in such a way that perfection has no other meaning at all than that of existence. And this extreme consequence from the scholastic definition of embarrassment was drawn 250 years ago by Spinoza. In one of his invaluable digressions, where, as in his letters, he is completely free of mathematical form and free of his own system, he spoke in detail about the concept of perfection, in the preface to the fourth part of ethics, in the study of human bondage. Bondage, servitus, he calls the impotence of humans, the powerlessness to moderate or to subdue one's affects. This bondage prevents what is vulgarly human perfection is called. The first meaning of the words (vocabulorum) perficere and perfectum must have been relative. “Anyone who set out to make a thing and then made it (perfecit), considers his cause to be completed and not he alone, but everyone who knows or believes to know the intent and goal of the author ... But whoever sees a work that he cannot compare with anything similar and whose intention he does not know, he couldn't say whether the work was finished, perfectumWhether or not. ”In time, human language offered ideals (ideas universales) of human works; what does not correspond to these ideals in the execution of houses, towers and the like becomes imperfect called. “For the same reason, however, natural objects that are not made by human hands are also used in the common language (vulgo) called perfect and imperfect; People also tend to form ideals from natural objects and imagine that nature acts like humans according to final causes, regards these ideals as models and works according to them. If something occurs in nature that does not correspond to the imagined model, they say that nature itself has failed or sinned, [375] that it is the thing imperfect left. So people are used to calling natural objects perfect or imperfect, according to a prejudice, not according to true knowledge. " role models (exemplaria) of nature calls. He does not say so explicitly, but evidently he wants to reject the ideal concept for nature. The ideals of the preconceived opinion would be, if nature wanted to and could orient itself according to them, an alien will, that is, an ought. Spinoza goes even further if he continues to deny nature any purpose. I don't like to translate the granite sentences: »Ratio igitur, seu causa, cur Deus seu Natura agit, et cur existit, una eademque est ... Causa autem, quae finalis dicitur, nihil est praeter ipsum humanum appetitum, quatenus is alicuius rei veluti principium seu causa primaria consideratur. "

People see the causes of their actions in their intentions (causas finales)because they are aware of their intentions or purposes, but are not aware of the real driving causes that compel them to do so. So there are not even purposeful causes in man, let alone in nature. “The talk that nature sometimes lacks or produces sinful or imperfect things is one of the inventions I have dealt with in the appendix to the first part (where the prejudices good and bad, merit and sin, praise and blame, order and confusion, beauty and ugliness are discussed). So perfection and imperfection are really only modi cogitandi, i.e. concepts which we are accustomed to form from comparing individuals of the same species (fingere); and that is why I have taught that I am under reality and perfection I understand the same thing. 'Even in Spinoza's time the concept of perfection had been seen as something like a moral necessity. Spinoza knows, for centuries as the only one, that everything that happens necessarily eats and that everything that is necessary is there. Reality and perfection are therefore the same. [376] The world is not there twice; Besides the world that is, there is no second world that should be. Spinoza goes on to teach that good and bad are also only modi cogitandi. Music is neither good nor bad for the pigeon. Nevertheless, he wants to keep such words. It often seems useful to make an ideal of man and even of other natural objects.

A human ideal, of course. In human words. Ideals are always just words or gods.

The human linguistic ideal of a dog includes, for example, loyalty and strength. A greyhound is therefore not a perfect dog. But if it is a real greyhound, so it is In his own way perfectly. Each species and subspecies has its own perfection. Even an individual has his own perfection, which in man is called personality. A freak can be perfect in its kind, it can correspond to the ideal of the two-headed, for example. Reality and perfection coincide. In the same way there are varieties of plants which are called imperfect or something like that, as long as they have not been understood in human language, that is, according to human interest, as an ideal of their kind. Then they are called real species, and definitions are found for them. There are also - theoretically - perfect gases; but by then the nominal term has already crept into physics.

It was and is not possible to go beyond Spinoza's simple worldview. Only human words put perfections and imperfections into nature. "Nothing is inherently good or bad, only our thinking makes it so." We have top Words like: His, God, Perfection. Because we have these words, we identify them. "God is perfection." We really cannot think or imagine anything about this or that. And because Kant, with all his acuteness and profundity, nevertheless did not have the unchristian or anti-Christian freedom of Spinoza, because Kant had the Christian ideal of words perfection did not want to divulge, that is why his use of language shimmers vaguely between Spinoza's scholastic form and his cheerful equation of reality [377] and perfection. It can be traced back to Kant, if nowadays for the extravagant adjective perfectly often simple all is said for perfection (since Spencer) die integration. (Scholasticism already knew one perfectio integralis, a complementary perfection, such as the limbs make up the whole body). But for Kant, "the highest perfection, presented in substance" still constitutes the concept of deity. And the Christian demand to approach this divine perfection as much as possible haunted even the best of heads. One of Kant's most astute students, Maimon, struggled for a long time with Kant and with himself, in order to finally find the ideal of perfection, as it is the kind of man, in his worthy person (Philosopher. Vocabulary p. 152): “Man is absolutely perfect when he links his own realities to one another in such a way that their effect is the greatest sum. And this is the one consummate way. Another may have several and larger ones, and yet be less perfect. "

Schiller, the otherwise very docile pupil of Kant, was also enough of Goethe's pupil to be able to feel a touch of the Spinozist spirit. Since in the fourth act (7th appearance) of the "Bride of Messina" the fate of the blinded people collapses, the choir gives wise advice: to escape from culture (with Haller and Rousseau), to the breast of nature "far from it Life's confused circles ”.

“There is freedom in the mountains! The breath of the tombs

Do not rise into the pure air;

The world is perfectly everywhere

Where man does not go with his torment. "

With his thoughts, with his words that make him torment. The world would be perfect if man did not use the meaningless word perfectly would have formed. And another do-gooder, lbsen, has the realist Relling say to the desperate Gregers Werle: "Oh, life could still be very good if we only had peace in front of these famous creditors, [378] who bring us poor people into our houses the ideal requirement. "

More soberly and more logically than anyone else, however, Schopenhauer fought against the concept of perfection in his Critique of Kantian Philosophy (W. a. W. and V. I. pp. 502 f.). The whole of ethics is based on this concept, "which in and of itself is completely empty and meaningless." To be perfect means nothing more than to correspond to a presupposed concept "without which perfection is an unnamed number". With the moral principle one actually says: "People should be as they should be." "Therefore the concept of perfection, when used absolutely and in abstracto, is a word devoid of thought, as is the talk of the most perfect being and the like. more. It's all just word stuff. "

perfection is a word corpse. She no longer needs to be beaten to death. I only wanted to sharpen the senses so that she would begin to smell bad.