Perfectionism harmonizes selfishness and selflessness.
In absolute good or common good are inherent the interests of society and the individual. In perfect self improvement, the realization covers both the individual and the social selves. The supreme social good is also the supreme individual good. The individual’s benefit is in self improvement. The individual should sacrifice his personal self in order to realize the perfect, ideal, social and rational self. In this way according to, perfectionism, the individual’s good is hi the good of everybody and his benefit in the common welfare.
In evolutionary hedonism, society is an evolutionary structure of interdependent individuals. Basing moral theories upon biological theories, evolutionary hedonism incurs many fallacies in its theory but although perfectionism does adopt the fundamental assumptions of evolutionism, it still manages to avoid these defects. It goes along with evolutionism, as far as the interdependent relation of individual and society is concerned but instead of approximating social structure to biological one, it treats it as a structure of free individuals hi which the interests of society and individual are one, not different.
The individual is to attain a rational world in which his welfare is implied in the welfare of everybody. With rationalism, perfectionism gives due importance to reason in human personality but on the other hand, it stresses the organization, modification and transformation of his passions, desires and feelings instead of their annihilation. Sentience is the content of a moral life. Reason grants them form. With intuitionism, perfectionism believes moral good to be the absolute peculiarity of conscience. It believes moral obligation to be everlasting and the voice of the conscience to be a command. But perfectionism has not been polluted by the defects of the various intuitionist theories. Contrary to unphilosophical intuitionism, the perfectionist conscience is neither a moral sense nor an aesthetic sense; it is the voice of the integral self.
Philosophical intuitionism too cannot explain the causes of moral obligation. The law of conscience remains an external law. But because perfectionism looks upon the conscience as the voice of the integral self having taken the integral form of the self, the law of conscience does not remain an external law and the source of normal obligation remains in the self. Perfectionism does not look upon moral law as indescribable. It treats it as a means to self improvement.
In this way perfectionism is an assimilation of the special features of all moral theories. Idealistic and biological views of perfection: The idealistic viewpoint of perfectionism was established by Plato, Aristotle, Green, Bradley and Hegel. On the other hand Herbert Spencer, Alexander and Leslie Stephen take the credit for establishing the biological view point the two theories differ in the following respects:
(1) Difference of method:
The method of the idealists is purposivistic. The evolutionist thinkers use the historical method. Thus, idealism gives normative theories while evolutionism presents only the history of conduct
(2) Difference in ultimate aim:
According evolutionism, the ultimate aim is pleasure. Idealists are not hedonists though they believe that happiness is the result of the attainment of the aim. According to idealism, the ultimate aim is the realization of the individual and social self. Evolution treats pleasure as the ultimate aim and self preservation, race preservation, social health and social welfare as immediate aims.
(3) Difference with regard to importance of passions:
Evolutionism emphasizes the satiation of passions. According to idealism we ought to control passions by reason and effect transformation of the lower self according to the nature of higher self. Evolutionism orders a life or enjoyment. According to idealism, self sacrifice is essential for self improvement.
(4) Difference in ideals:
Idealism stresses the development of character and moral qualities.
Its ideal is the perfect development of personality. Evolutionism, impressed by the example of biological life, recognizes identity in duty and use of force, morality and love of power. According to it, morality is merely the means to preservation of individual and race. Herbert Spencer imagines an ideal state in which moral obligation will no longer be present According to idealism; moral obligation is everlasting like moral progress.
(5) Difference in viewpoint:
Evolutionism looks at man from the biological viewpoint According to it, man is a sentient being. According to idealism man is a self conscious and spiritual being.