Recruit, United States Marine Corps

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What is the Perfect Person?

There is an ancient phrase in the western world called "Deus ex Machina". Translated, this means "A God from the Machine". In literature, this describes a common event at the end of Greek dramas in which a pulley would lower an actor playing a god over the stage to portray the realized moral of the story. The problem is, that we only glean the ideals of the storyteller whom we obviously cannot believe is perfect.

My question to the TED society is actually many questions: What are characteristics of great men and women? Is morality to be taken into account? How do we, as simple humans, see perfection? Most importantly, in what direction and by what method is best in order to try to become that "Perfect Person"?

*Keep in mind that I have written the word "person" and not "human" into my question. The perfect human would have, at its bare bones, non-existential traits such as strength, stamina, fertility, etc. In other words, do not confuse "Superhuman" with "Perfect Person".

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    Jul 20 2012: Positive attributes include integrity, the courage to speak out about injustice even when it is difficult, the ability to see the good in others,the disposition to love deeply and to grow in understanding of self and others... But "perfect" and 'person" don't fit together, I think.
    • Jul 20 2012: As for the last part, I agree that they don't fit together in nature. Still, the vast, vast, majority of people see ideals and even physical attributes that they are compelled to mimic. Even though he/she is imaginary, the "Perfect Person", is also very real.

      As for the particular attributes that you give, I definitely agree that in our hearts, we all recognize these as virtues. Still it seems like when you go deeper into these categories, there are divisions that a society tends to see as either virtuous or evil. For example:

      Integrity can also be vanity or even intransigence.

      The courage to speak out about injustice can only happen when you are able to see that there is injustice, and that there is, like C.S. Lewis put it, always a right and a wrong.

      Seeing good in others may lead to a dangerous amount of optimism and bliss.

      As for love, I think that could be tricky. Pure love is seen and recognized as a true virtue by anyone on the planet, regardless of their culture. However lust and greed, the two other "ugly sister" forms of love, are not always seen in the same light.

      So I really think that with pure love, you have hit one of the great attributes of the "Perfect Person".
  • Aug 1 2012: One of the main points of perfection is completion and I don't think it's possible for people to be complete, and subsequently perfect, on their own because humans were meant to connect with one another and form groups. Moving forward from this, I think the more people as a whole can commune together as a single unit, the more perfect we become. Individual people are like individual pixels making up a digital picture, which become complete when they come together to form a unified picture.
    • Aug 2 2012: That's definitely an interesting take!
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    Jul 21 2012: The one who sees that there Is not one perfect person, but millions upon millions of them.

    Is one wildflower more/less perfect than another? Is a 1st grader more perfect than a 3rd grader? We are all different and we are at different points along the learning process of the universe.

    As for what you should develop and nurture within yourself? That is unique to you, and you must ask yourself what YOU love most about yourself. What do YOU admire most in other people. You cannot short-circuit the process of growth along the timeline of your own wisdom. Work for those things you 'think' are most wonderful, and then re-evaluate as you go. Part of our perfection is that our own future is open.
    • Jul 21 2012: But that's like saying that John D. Rockefeller was no different than Octomom!

      I doubt that once somebody thought they were perfect that they would make changes to go beyond that. There's a way that we can call ourselves perfect while actually just using it as a boon for self-esteem, and at the same time, self-delusion. This belief in one's infallibility obviously would lead to some bad decisions.

      Not that self-esteem is bad, in fact, I think it's what will allow people to look at themselves more critically and then perfect themselves.

      I agree with your last paragraph though. There aren't going to be a million Presidents of the United States at one time, after all! Still, I do believe that I, personally can go through the road less traveled by observing others, and adapting myself to be more perfect without the usual chronological process.
  • Sandy S

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    Aug 3 2012: I would answer this question by taking human empiricism out of it. In other words, instead of asking "how do we, as simple humans, see perfection?", start by looking at Adam and Eve and finding a) the person most like them or b) the person least different from them.

    I would go one step further though and give the perfect person a "birth handicap." Adam and Eve were created and a person, no matter how perfect, would still be subject to his/her parents genes.
  • Jul 24 2012: I perfection is actually imperfection, because without imperfection there would be no way for people to become better. Without growth, perfection goes out the window and you're back to being perfectly imperfect.
    • Jul 25 2012: interesting insight! can't perfection be fluid though? austerity is imperfection in itself
      • Aug 8 2012: If by fluid you mean always changing or trying to change for the better, then yes, definitely. Or, wait, do you mean that people could shift from one type of perfect to another? Because then there would be many different ways to be a 'perfect person,' and this thread could be called 'What makes perfect people?'
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    • Jul 21 2012: That made my day!

      This question is was pretty much made to help me objectively see what is worth valuing in myself and what changes I need to make. If everyone did that, the world would have a very strong foundation, I believe. If I become an example of the "perfect person", then I bet that people would attach themselves to the same philosophy without me even deliberately proselytizing them.
    • Jul 21 2012: I'll definitely remember mind spirit soul and strength, and the ultimate goal of being opposed to all that is wrong.
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    Jul 20 2012: Jesus Christ.
    • Jul 20 2012: That's true in one sense. The entire point of Christianity is to learn the traits of Jesus and internalize them, so therefore, we think of him as the perfect entity. This is despite the fact that in the Bible, even he had not wanted to sacrifice himself for his cause at first, which is a rare moment in which he doesn't seem exactly perfect.

      But also, Jesus is the son of God, and he is not really a perfect person, so much as a demigod.

      God is perfect, but he is perfect in a divine way that a human will never achieve.

      So think of a person as a diamond. We judge the perfection of diamonds based on their ideal characteristics which are color, cut, clarity, carat, and certificate. Even though you may have a perfect diamond, that diamond cannot cure disease, think, or create.

      People are limited in the same way, but there ought to be ways to judge their perfection. I would suggest that we create a "perfect person scale" made up of a ratio of aptitude to characteristics.
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        Jul 21 2012: Hi Zach.
        Then I guess the perfect person would care for others more than themselves. Love others more than themselves, & seek good for others. Devoid of personal greed & ambition. All this is not possible for us at present, but we can aspire to these things.

        • Jul 21 2012: I definitely agree with that! Love seems to be admired universally as a perfect trait. (Well, at least among non-cynics.) ;)
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    Jul 20 2012: Our view of perfection is imperfect because of our nature.
    But perfection, apart from being an ideal, is a real state that is independent of our opinions.
    Just as real 'right' or 'good' exists, and are not based on our opinions.

    Great men and women are ones whose lives are of selfless service, and who strive to make the right choices even when such choices present great discomfort and inconvinience; and even when excuses would have been so good as to allow one fatal failing.
    • Jul 20 2012: I think that your assertion that we cannot perceive perfection is true. But that doesn't mean we never stop trying! Does someone who gets plastic surgery suddenly become perfect? In a shallow and immediate way, they are more perfect, but in the reality that humans sometimes don't see, they aren't.

      I also believe that there is always a right and a wrong that is built into us. It's just that sometimes there are gray areas in which a society will not agree if a decision was perfect or imperfect. But again, who's to say that society is perfect?

      That's the reason that I actually asked this question. There needs to be some scale to see that we are actually making self-improvements, rather than just praising ourselves.
  • Aug 12 2012: Only knowledge helps to generate a better world ~~~
  • Aug 12 2012: In my opnion ,a perfect person should possess the following traits :efficient,kind hearted ,and knowledgable .
    First of all, an efficient person is fertile . In the modern society . it is true that we can not achieve our goal without fianncial foundation . It is crucial to fortell whether a person is successful or not base on the premise whether he is efficient or not . Noboby will wait for you to make a decision which will takes a long period to think . Time is precious . If a person is efficient enough , at least , he can fullfill the tasks in the daily life more quickly so that he contributes more to his family even the society than others . Many people complain a lot about his current fate, however, complainments does nothing to do with the improvement. Only increase one's efficientcy can help to change the miserable situations.
    The main point is high efficiency foster the generation of fortune . The more fortuen one possess , the happier his life is . Having a happy life is the basic element to be a perfect person.
    Second , a perfect person should be kind-hearted. Adam Smith argues in The wealth of Nations that people have traits of self-interests . Indeed ,there are too many wealth people in the world . However, not all of them are real happy . We have jus t talk about that wealth is the basic element of being perfect. However, the standard of perfection includes real happiness . Kind-hearted actions the feedback to the society from who gets a lot from her. For example , charity , is one of kind-hearted actions. Doing charity means the ability of not only helping ourselves but also heping the others in need so that to realize a more harmonious society . Being in good condition and thinking about the others is the second element of being perfection.
    The first and second point is the elements requires to be physical and mentally perfection. Here comes the third element ,which also reflects mental perfection ,is knowledgable Knowledge generates
  • Aug 5 2012: My opinion: The perfect person is someone who while doing all they can to reach their goals and striving to attain that which their ego and aspirations require: does as little harm to others as possible; tries to consider the widest implications of their choices and actions, and; accepts that while to do one's best may not be called greatness, it is fair to call it goodness.... and at times, that must be enough.

    In other words, I believe there is no benchmark for perfection, nor can there ever be: Rather, there are countless examples of selfless nobility against which we can measure our own performance and what's left is to strive always to be a better, more worthy human being.... to earn the right each day, to breathe the same air as those we know are better than us.
  • Aug 2 2012: It's not the answer we seek but the question that drives us.

    Aristotle, in his book 'Delta of the Metaphysics', distinguishes three meanings of the term, or rather three different concepts. That perfect is:

    1. is complete — which contains all the requisite parts;
    2. which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better;
    3. which has attained its purpose

    For me, these three concepts guide my belief system with moral bearing providing the influence. Allow the question to drive us forward. If we know the answer, we would stop evolving.
  • Jul 25 2012: Good luck in your quest for knowledge Zach. It's always fun to go back and forth with someone who seeks truth!
    • Jul 28 2012: Thank you, most worthy opponent!
      • Jul 28 2012: I like to think we're all in this together
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    Gord G

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    Jul 22 2012: I think the judgement of perfection is external to an individual's true self. We shouldn't strive to be perfect but rather strive to accept our imperfection as a sign of awareness.
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    Jul 22 2012: Sure, there are some weeds among the wildflowers.

    You don't think self-delusion is beautiful, so don't make those choices. Hopefully others come to see that during their journeys as well.

    Who cares if it's the road less traveled? Care if it's the road that resonates with who you are. If you ARE on the road that resonates with who you are, then enjoy the journey and don't waste it looking for short cuts. :-D If you love Vivaldi's Four Seasons, why sit with your finger on the fast-forward button?
  • Jul 21 2012: Perfect is an ideal that we will never reach. Perfect is an image. The longer you look at something, the more you will begin to see flaws. I'm sure my wife could expand on this in great detail after spending life with me, but it would take way more characters than this site allows :)
    • Jul 21 2012: But the question is asking what those ideals are! Without seeing them, then all motives in the world are arbitrary.

      People don't consciously make bad decisions without caring, do they?
      • Jul 21 2012: I think the perfect person and the perfect life are arbitrary. Ask 10 people to define them and you may get 10 very different answers. I think people are always striving to improve, but I don't think anyone ever gets to the point when they think it's perfect. As your life improves, your definitions of what you want will change. People who are extremely successful still wake up with a to do list. It's part of the human condition
        • Jul 21 2012: It's true that many things are relative but there are a few select characteristics that we all admire such as justice, love, and good. In fact, if you look at the characteristics that people have already listed, they are a lot more common than you might expect! Moral relativism doesn't go so far as each person being almost a different intellectual species.

          Whether you believe that perfection exists or not, it does. Humans can picture consequences and use their imaginations and intellect to make their lives a little more perfect with every decision. If we as humans can always do this, then it doesn't mean that perfection will ever exist in reality, but it means that our reality will improve. As a society, we find our common goals of self-improvement, and then do our best to execute them.

          Without the idea of perfection, there are no goals. There is only acceptance of the present.
        • Jul 21 2012: The quality of life for African-Americans in the southern U.S. certainly wasn't perfect. But did they just accept second-class citizenship, Jim Crow laws, lower wages, etc.? No way! They imagined a life that was more perfect for themselves and with that image burning in their minds, they fought for it.
      • Jul 21 2012: You just made my point with your last post when you used the term "more perfect". Your language reflects judgement rather than emprical truth. As people, we will always aspire to be more than we are, but the end goal can never be perfection because it is subjective. Perfect to whom? You ? Me? What's "perfect" for one person is not for another. I also say the the definition of perfection (the perfect life, the perfect job) will change for any given person throughout their life.
        • Jul 21 2012: but it still exists! that's the point. There is obviously no actual perfection, but that doesn't stop us from believing in it.

          Also, keep in mind that the "perfect life" is only a reflection of the "perfect person".

          Perfection as I have gleaned it is actually almost identical to all of the people who have answered so far, except for those who don't want to believe in it.
      • Jul 21 2012: Zach,
        Give me one example of perfection in human or any other form that isn't your subjective opinion.
        Write it down and seal it in an envelope. Open it in 20 years and see if you still think it's perfect. I am willing to go out on a limb and say you will feel differently about almost everything in 20 years. Things will change during that time in your life. Work, school, marriage, children, and the world will change everything.
        There is no such thing as a perfect person. It doesn't exist.
        • Jul 25 2012: the whole point of asking the question is to see what universal conceptions of perfection were! For the third time, if you read other people's opinions, they are actually relatively similar!

          If I knew what perfection was, then I wouldn't have asked the question. I'd just be another sad result of Deus ex Machina.
  • Jul 21 2012: What is perfect?

    For 1 person view on what might be perfect will be different from someone else view on what is perfect. Yet you can all agree on values that a perfect person would have but you look for different values in people depending on who you are.

    So what is perfect?
    • Jul 21 2012: That is the question. What is your answer?
  • Jul 20 2012: Hello Mr. Bundy,

    I like the way you explain your topic and put your questions.

    The list of virtues of the perfect person would be lengthy, so I will contribute just one at this time.

    IMO, a necessary characteristic of the perfect person is leadership, to guide others toward perfection.
    • Jul 20 2012: Thank you!

      I would also say that a great leader is often subject to be idolized as perfect.
  • Jul 20 2012: M. Kemal Atatürk is the perfectest person ever. Perfect persons are the ones that can dedicate their life to their beliefs.
    • Jul 20 2012: Even if that belief is generally considered to be evil?
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    Jul 20 2012: the perfect person is the potential one