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Philosophical Views On The Purpose Of Perfectionism

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Perfectionism has been ever present in our society, going back to the days of Aristotle. Many have tried to interpret and understand how it works and what its true effects are. Perfectionism has taken many forms including, moral theory, state of being or mental illness, only being recognized as an illness in more recent years. Seen from many different perspectives, perfectionism has changed looks and value throughout history, sometimes being a worthy trait and other times, a despised peculiarity. During history as perfectionism has evolved, it has become a monster that disrupts enjoyment of life.

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Perfectionism should be recognized as one of the causes of major illnesses and addressed with more solutions. The first way perfectionism was recognized was as a moral theory. Philosophers throughout time have developed their theories, building on what others had previously discovered. One of the more well-known versions is Stanley Cavell’s Emersonian Moral Perfectionism. “Stanley Cavell has famously dubbed Emersonian moral perfectionism – or simply Emersonian perfectionism – is not a compete theory of moral philosophy … rather, seeks to get a grip of a dimension in any moral thinking, less a hierarchy of what to value most in life, more a sketch on how we come to value anything in the first place”.

Most of these theories are based around ways of living to the highest standard along with personal morals and actions in life. In Cavell’s version of the theory he focuses on a sense of self and how humans come to value that sense which is in comparison to others who focus on fore frontal moral dilemmas, is different. A lot of people assume perfectionism “to be the claim that the good life is one in which the characteristic capacities of a human being, typically envisioned as a complex of biological and psychological traits, are fully realized. ”, however philosophers think that “perfectionism involves further claims about how various character traits, pursuits and institutions are instrumentally valuable toward the attainment of this end. ” These opinions are closest to Herder’s moral theory, who was a philosopher during the industrial revolution. He believed that perfectionism “serves to indicate both the ideal at which human beings should aim and the set of capacities or dispositions that achieve their full realization in this ideal. ”

In previous years, perfectionism was and is virtually always seen as a desirable attribute to have. Someone who performs flawlessly when working is what today’s society wants. “Nowadays, however, there’s broadening agreement among researchers that perfectionism is always harmful”. People have begun to replace their thoughts and views of this mental illness but awareness about the causes and impacts is still awfully low especially considering what perfectionism can cause. Even those who perform studies on the subject find it difficult to develop and continue research, “perfectionism is still poorly understood because few longitudinal studies have been conducted”.

However, there has been an increasing amount of experiments and research being conducted in the last twenty years and no one can fault taking the first step towards progress. More solutions are being offered including medicine and psychiatrists who specialize in aiding people through accepting mistakes which also helps prevent bad situations.

15 July 2020

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