perfection

Aristotle said that all creative people are dissatisfied because they are looking for happiness in perfection and seeking for things that do not exist. This is one of the hopes of the world. There is no progress where people are satisfied. Discontent is perhaps the most potent challenge to improvement.

It may be difficult, too, for many of us, to abandon the belief that there is an instinct towards perfection at work in human beings, which has brought them to their present high level of intellectual achievement and ethical sublimation and which may be expected to watch over their development as supermen. I have no faith, however, in the existence of any such internal instinct and I cannot see how this benevolent illusion is to be preserved. The present development of human beings requires, as it seems to me, no different explanation from that of animals. What appears in a minority of human individuals as an untiring impulsion towards further perfection can easily be understood as a result of the instinctual repression upon which is based all that is most precious in human civilization.

The true artist sees the harmony, the wholeness, the tendencies toward perfection in things everywhere.

The practical man is the adventurer, the investigator, the believer in research, the asker of questions, the man who refuses to believe that perfection has been attained... There is no thrill or joy in merely doing that which any one can do... It is always safe to assume, not that the old way is wrong, but that there may be a better way.

There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection. To round itself out, life calls not for perfection but for completeness; and for this the 'thorn in the flesh' is needed, the suffering of defects without which there is no progress and no ascent.

To realize in its completeness the universal beauty and perfection of the works of God, we must recognize a certain perpetual and very free progress of the whole universe, such that it is always going forward to greater improvement... Although many substances have already attained a great perfection, yet on account of the infinite divisibility of the continuous, there always remain in the abyss of things slumbering parts which have yet to be awakened, to grow in size and worth, and, in a word, to advance to a more perfect state. And hence no end of progress is ever reached.

The fundamental rights, like the right to existence and life; the right to personal freedom or to conduct one’s own life as master of oneself and of one’s acts, responsible for them before God and the law of the community; the right to the pursuit of the perfection of moral and rational human life; the right to keep one’s body whole; the right to private ownership of material goods, which is a safeguard of the liberties of the individual; the right to marry according to one’s choice and to raise a family which will be assured of the liberties due it; the right of association, the respect for human dignity in each individual, whether or not he represents an economic value for society - all these rights are rooted in the vocation of the person (a spiritual and free agent) to the order of absolute values and to a destiny superior to time.

On a mural Francis Scott Bradford has depicted the life of man. A heroic figure of man is painted as chained to the skyscrapers of his cities, rearing up, stretching his chains, peering onward into the stars and planets of the heavens. And the scroll inscribes the summary: "Man, though chained to earth, looks across time and space toward an unknown perfection which he may never reach but will forever seek."

Beauty of form affects the mind, but then it must not be the mere shell that we admire, but the thought that this shell is only the beautiful case adjusted to the shape and value of a still more beautiful pearl within. The perfection of outward loveliness is the soul shining through its crystalline covering.

Truth is the basis and essence of perfection and beauty.

The golden thread in the mind of man is the light that leads towards excellence as a human objective. If perfection is a divine attribute, excellence is a human incentive and a healthy aim, even when we fall short of the target.

The end is the source of everything that exists in the cause and the end of everything that exists in the effect... end, cause and effect, exist in the greatest and least things... To think from ends is the method of wisdom, from causes that of intelligence, and from effects that of knowledge. From this it may be seen that all perfection increases in and according to the ascent to higher degrees.

We are not speaking of the perfection of life, forces, and forms as increasing or decreasing according to the degrees of extension or continuity, because these degrees are generally known; but as ascending or descending according to the degrees of ascent, or discrete (discontinuous) degrees, can be but little known from things visible in the natural world.

In the night we stumble over things and become acutely conscious of their separateness, but the day reveals the unity which embraces them. And the man whose inner vision is bathed in consciousness at once realizes the spiritual unity which reigns over all racial differences, and his mind no longer stumbles over individual facts, accepting them as final. He realizes that peace is an inner harmony and not an outer adjustment, that beauty carries the assurance of our relationship to reality, which waits for its perfection in the response of our love.

All things, by desiring their own perfection, desire God Himself; inasmuch as the perfection of all things are so many similitudes of the divine essence.

Culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world.

Not only to see and find the Divine in oneself, but to see and find the Divine in all, not only to seek one’s own individual liberation and perfection, but to seek the liberation and perfection of others is the complete law of the spiritual being.

It is by insisting on an impossible standard of perfection that sceptics make themselves secure.

Nature is not at variance with Art, nor Art with Nature, they both being servants of His Providence. Art is the perfection of Nature... Nature is the Art of God.