shaupt: (Default)
shaupt ([personal profile] shaupt) wrote2015-09-26 04:02 pm

I don't really care about knives

Is the perfect knife also a spoon? Would being unsuitable for use as a spoon make a knife less perfect? For that matter, is perfection a variable or a binary characteristic? Is a thing either "perfect" or "not perfect", or can it be "more perfect" and "less perfect"?

So if it makes a poor spoon, does that alter a knife's perfection? What if the knife serves passably as a screwdriver, which is sort of a more reasonable thing to expect of a blade? It seems as though "perfect" is an ass-pain of a word, at least as it's used in English.

Etymologically "perfect" merely means "completed", as in, "I could add a cup-holder, I suppose, but I'm finished with what I set out to make". That suggests perfection is a trait limited to artifice...since using it to describe nature would require some kind of preternatural insight. If I call a butterfly "perfect", I'm implying I have some godly sense of what an insect ought to be, and remaining a pupa ain't it.

That would make an oxymoron of "perfect mistake" or any other combination with a thing unintended, since how can you say that you've completed a thing that was never planned? For that matter, what would "a perfect plan" entail? Is a plan finished before its intended action is accomplished? If so, then the perfect plan could have catastrophic consequences and yet still be perfect.

Ugh, it's a terrible word. It's like a prank inserted into the language by gremlins.
vladdraculea: Rainbow Autistic Pride lemniscate over the black, grey, white, and purple stripes of the Asexuality Pride flag (Default)

[personal profile] vladdraculea 2015-09-27 12:13 am (UTC)(link)
I suppose so. Perfection is rarely a concept that works in real life. Like idealism and normativity.

At the beginning of your post, I was thinking about being trans: how the knife could be a really good knife, created exactly to plan, and the plan was an excellent example of good design, but in its heart, it is a spoon — that is, it wants to pick up liquids, rather than just cut (after all some spoons have sharp enough edges that they can “cut” through grapefruit or kiwifruit) — and being able to act as a screwdriver, while handy, just isn't something this trans spoon has any interest in.

In other words, if you believe that everything in this universe was predestined by G-d, and G-d would not come up with a plan that is not said to be “perfect”, then G-d in Zeir infinite wisdom, felt that it was necessary to create many people whose bodies are an extremely poor match for their identities, even if those bodies are perfectly shaped at each moment of life according to G-d's plan — perfectly shaped, though not for those bodies' intended users.

Anyway I think the concept has some merit for certain kinds of discussion, and having a word for this concept isn't a bad thing. I'm not against words existing for concepts that are difficult to pin down, even if they can never be precise in meaning, or their meaning — the concepts themselves — are inherently flawed.