Saturday, March 14, 2015


Is perfect vision a perfect vision? Now, I've got your attention, I’m sure. The answer is, it is not. You know why? There is a “blind spot” that is photo-shopped out of our perceived viewpoint through “fuzzy logic” by our brain. So our perceived view of the world is in slight variance with the real reality out there. And besides, perfect is a relative term.

So what is this romance with the ideal?

As humans we look to achieve goals and based on the perceived intrinsic value of that goal we conjure up an honesty factor to it and work towards it. Is that a bad thing? No! Absolutely not! Yet as we move through the path of that progress we arrive at something that we then perceive to have a higher value than the one previously and that then becomes the ideal. An example that many have used in ethics where a person who claims absolute honesty, lies to protect a friend has thus changed the value stream order: friendship supplants his virtue of honesty. Is that right or wrong? Now before you sit on that high horse, think a little. An ideal is an unattainable goal, but something we all aspire. Our limits never reach the limits of the ideal, as the mixture of thought and small successes keep us grinding towards it. Ideals change, mutate as more information and experiences rush in.

It is easy to live in the world of idealism, where everyone follows the tradition of the ideal except you. That would be easy, wouldn't it? A person who pontificates the virtues of timeliness, yet always shows up late. The vice of that stalemate remains elusive to that person. It goes back to Marie Antoinette also with her view in the secluded world from regressive taxation and the brewing economic crisis, “Let them eat cake!” she cried on the day as the bourgeois cried "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood"  and stormed the Bastille. Different world views, wouldn't you say. Different ideals, for sure!

These ideal-makers exploit a few traits and in so doing, create a simpler more appealing archetype and then wish to rubber-stamp everyone’s ethics and morals. It does not matter what discipline or field that is in their express thought, whatever it is, it falls within their crucible of ideal. Unfortunately as the play goes on and the fragmented thoughts are pulled together unwittingly or unknowingly, a complex fabric of dos and don’ts quickly follow and soon become the charter of dogmas. In fact none other than a socialist, Bernard Crick, had to point that out, ideals should be descriptive of a process not outcomes. One should ponder on that a bit.

If human life is considered an ideal, then the seven billion mini-subsets of that consciousness should also be considered the same. It is the vagary, variety and diversity of each thought and action that creates the fabric of the whole human race. Artificial segmentation into ideal and not-ideal negate the gravitas of human life itself. Thus humans are imperfect in nature but ideal on to themselves in their own mental domain.

“In the mathematical field of set theory for instance an ideal is a collection of sets that are considered to be "small" or "negligible". Every subset of an element of the ideal must also be in the ideal (this codifies the idea that an ideal is a notion of smallness), and the union of any two elements of the ideal must also be in the ideal.” Simple and straightforward, don’t you think? Kind of what the previous paragraph seems to infer.

Schrodinger's ?

In experimentation the closest ideal is the thought experiment called Gedankenexperiment in German. Now, now hear me out! When you do a thought experiment, you utilize your intuit and the knowledge base from where stems the likely thought experiment. It runs its course in your mind and the faults in the virtual landscape are exposed where potential landmines of unknowns exist. You correct for them as you move on, a step at a time. Ultimately you arrive at the solution and that solution may or may not be what you had anticipated. Yet today in this “Ideal-minded” culture the answer must always be what we envision it to be. So we create the statistical torture of simple numbers and use ratios and percentages to fill in the blanks. Even when there was every opportunity blank out there yelling at you not to follow the proverbial yellow brick road. You still did! Alas the yellow color has magical, mystical and magnetic powers in it.

The philosophical analogy of an ideal then can be crafted around a set of characteristics akin to samples from a population that fit those characteristics and not necessarily the entire population. That would be the Max Weberian approach, so to speak. Such ideals are limited in scope and do not encompass the whole. And thus ideals are a process driven of limited-value-ethereal-entities that reside in one’s mind and not as a totality of the envisioned outcome. The problem arises when such ideals are utilized in a way to express outcomes and thus become the be-all, end-all of the human endeavor. An ideal should be like the epistemic thought governed more under the shroud of skepticism rather than as a brazen finality. Conjuring idealism is a tautological concept that bubbles and boils in the form, both ethereal in nature and conceived only in the nebulous sector called the mind. As Bertrand Russell elegantly said, "If we say that the things known must be in the mind, we are either un-duly limiting the mind's power of knowing, or we are uttering a mere tautology. We are uttering a mere tautology if we mean by 'in the mind' the same as by 'before the mind', i.e. if we mean merely being apprehended by the mind.”


“Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.” -Immanuel Kant

The philosophers wallow in their own tumult. Kant separated perception from reality as one would an object called beautiful as in “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Nietzsche called him out on that. Whereas Hegel charted out his belief of the perfect system of God and man’s ideals, Kierkegaard countered that God’s Reality and human reality were on two different planes and man was inadequate to realize God’s system of reality and therefore man’s ideal is but a very small portion of the whole and certainly under the imposed limits of its beholders power of observation and knowledge.

Ideal then is held back by existence, observation and time, whereas thought transcends the latter two. It merely exists. Ideal is a conjured abstract. Reality is observable and existential. The observability reins in and devours the very essence of a human ideal.  We paint an image in color that may only be viewed as black and white. Thus existence and idealism cannot coexist.

For mere mortals to promote idealism in its raw sense shows ignorance. As Voltaire famously quipped, “Perfection is the enemy of good,”   and Confucius remarked, “Better a diamond with a flaw then a pebble without.”

No comments:

Post a Comment