Even Plato realized that his ideal forms did not exist in our reality. The perfect circle, perfect vacuum, or perfect good exist only in imagination. We can never find a perfect autumn maple leaf.

Yet we can intelligently use “perfect” in our conversation. A “perfect moment” has meaning, and a meaning that indicates more than “simply better than most.” We  internally also understand that there are limits and contradictions implied.

Confusion arises when terms like “perfect” become a fad. Lately, for example, we are told of “perfect adaptations to an environmental niche.” But there is no such thing. Life is ruled by “just good enough” and evolution by “just a tiny bit better adapted or lucky.”

The old saying “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” expresses that perfectly. We apply it all the time in daily society _ a ”little white lie” is a useful example.

Then, alas, there are formal religion and academic philosophy, where suddenly absolute perfection has a starring role. That such a chimeric concept should drive so many brilliant minds to madness and fury is a constant marvel.

Me, I’m quite content with imperfect, and even glory in the halo of ambiguity it casts around my existence.

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