• This is a political forum that is non-biased/non-partisan and treats every persons position on topics equally. This debate forum is not aligned to any political party. In today's politics, many ideas are split between and even within all the political parties. Often we find ourselves agreeing on one platform but some topics break our mold. We are here to discuss them in a civil political debate. If this is your first visit to our political forums, be sure to check out the RULES. Registering for debate politics is necessary before posting. Register today to participate - it's free!

Is man perfectible?

Is man perfectible or imperfect?


  • Total voters
    20

reefedjib

DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
6,763
Reaction score
1,619
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Private
I was thinking these past few days about whether people can change their behavior, their choices and actions, for the better. Can man consistently make choices for altruistic reasons? Certainly there are some individuals who do it, but do you think the progress of the human race is such that more and more people will do so? Can man learn to act for social good, rather than personal interest? Or does man act only out of selfishness and self-interest and must be limited to the damage they cause one another? Is man perfectible?
 
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
906
Reaction score
183
Location
Maryland
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
Man is powerful but limited. The nature of man won't change until we completely evolve out of current biology.
 

MSgt

Stabler Genius
Supporting Member
DP Veteran
Joined
Jun 10, 2005
Messages
24,012
Reaction score
8,826
Location
Highlands Ranch, CO
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
The "Age of Ideology" proved that man is not to be perfected. Between 1789 and 1991, a select few decided that their systems of organization would bring utopia or a "perfect" society. Unfortunately for the hundreds of millions of corpses between Berlin and Cambodia, the imperfect man proved to always dissapoint the "perfect" system. There's a reason the word democracy is not an -ism. Only in a system where men are free to be imperfect can a society be the most healthy.
 
Last edited:

Catz Part Deux

DP Veteran
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
28,728
Reaction score
6,742
Location
Redneck Riviera
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Moderate
Man is a curious primate with opposable thumbs and upright posture. We are what we are. Thinking about it in terms of perfect and imperfect is a false dichotomy.

Where is the thread on perfecting alligators?
 

zimmer

Educating the Ignorant
Suspended
DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 19, 2008
Messages
23,745
Reaction score
7,654
Location
Worldwide
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Conservative
I was thinking these past few days about whether people can change their behavior, their choices and actions, for the better. Can man consistently make choices for altruistic reasons? Certainly there are some individuals who do it, but do you think the progress of the human race is such that more and more people will do so? Can man learn to act for social good, rather than personal interest? Or does man act only out of selfishness and self-interest and must be limited to the damage they cause one another? Is man perfectible?
In western societies:

What you called selfishness saved the lives of all those miners in Chile. It encouraged the production of technology that saved lives. Capitalism brings out the greater good of people. Not all, but better than any other system. It's why Americans are the most philanthropic of people.

Communism at the other end created barbarism.

Socialism destroys philanthropy and altruistic behavior, as people have less, struggle more, and point to the state when someone needs "help". This leads to corruption, favoritism and resentment.

Tell me, what is more compassionate? Reducing investment because the investors might make fantastic profits, and spreading the wealth around; being hostile to business and individuals making great profits, and having people die because of it? Or allowing people to profit from their ingenuity, fostering the creation jobs and life saving technology?



.
 
Last edited:

Gardener

free market communist
DP Veteran
Joined
Sep 5, 2005
Messages
26,661
Reaction score
15,927
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
Is man perfectible?

My dog thinks so.
 

Aunt Spiker

Cheese
DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
28,433
Reaction score
16,986
Location
Sasnakra
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Moderate
I was thinking these past few days about whether people can change their behavior, their choices and actions, for the better. Can man consistently make choices for altruistic reasons? Certainly there are some individuals who do it, but do you think the progress of the human race is such that more and more people will do so? Can man learn to act for social good, rather than personal interest? Or does man act only out of selfishness and self-interest and must be limited to the damage they cause one another? Is man perfectible?
Man is imperfect. In fact, nature is imperfect.
The Greeks spent years and years trying to define perfection - and what did it do for them?

People are better off when they accept their imperfections and weaknesses and then embrace those weakenesses and call them uniquenesses. :)
 
Last edited:

Goobieman

DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 2, 2006
Messages
17,343
Reaction score
2,876
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Conservative
As a general rule, humans act in whatever manner they believe will best serve their own best interest.
This is as far as predicability can go, given that everyone's perception of their own best interest varies.
 

reefedjib

DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
6,763
Reaction score
1,619
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Private
As a general rule, humans act in whatever manner they believe will best serve their own best interest.
This is as far as predicability can go, given that everyone's perception of their own best interest varies.
How often do you think society's best interest and individuals' best interest match up? If other words, how often will a person's self interest be harmful to society? As so to the primary question, can man learn to align his self interest with society's?
 

Harry Guerrilla

DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Messages
28,955
Reaction score
12,423
Location
Not affiliated with other libertarians.
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Libertarian
How often do you think society's best interest and individuals' best interest match up? If other words, how often will a person's self interest be harmful to society? As so to the primary question, can man learn to align his self interest with society's?
I believe most people seeking their self interest, benefit society.
Not necessarily align with what society wants but definitely benefits it.
 

Goobieman

DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 2, 2006
Messages
17,343
Reaction score
2,876
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Conservative
How often do you think society's best interest and individuals' best interest match up?
I'd say they generally do, though that is dependent on the society.

As so to the primary question, can man learn to align his self interest with society's?
Ultimately, self interest is derived from emotional attachment; man's actions are based on those attachments. You do not generally 'align' your emotional attachments - they are a product of who you are, something people rarely decide to change - and as such are unlikely to 'align' your self-interest with anything or anyone.
 

Orion

DP Veteran
Joined
Jun 25, 2008
Messages
8,083
Reaction score
3,918
Location
Canada
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
Only God is perfect but we are incapable of understanding that perfection, as we are imperfect beings. That does not mean we cannot strive toward love and goodness though. In fact, it is the only route to our elevation.
 

Peter Valentine

New member
Joined
Oct 5, 2010
Messages
14
Reaction score
1
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
Perfection is perhaps an incorrect term for describing the maximum capabilities of a human being, however, since age fourteen, I myself have been striving to find out how close i can get.


It is possible to disregard your own self interest and use your BRAIN to figure the best choice you could make in any given situation, I live my life this way, and I would like to believe that others could just as well, it just requires a small change of perspective.

I have have spent years studying the thoughts, morals, and philosophys of the greatest men the earth has seen, such as: Socrates, Plato, & Aristotle. Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Jesus Christ, just to name a few.

None of whom were perfect in the literal sense, but I am one who believes that everyone can be perfect in their own way. None the less I feel that we should all strive to be like these people, using intelligence and intellect to solve our problems. We can live life honestly, and do more good for others than we do for ourselves.

A perfect human would consist of what traits?

I think;
Unbiased honesty, justice, compassion, respect, intelligence, and logic. &the names i mentioned above would agree.
 

Fiddytree

Neocon Elitist
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
29,630
Reaction score
17,033
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Centrist
It sounds like perfectibility in Tocqueville: always improving, but never reaching "perfection."
 

reefedjib

DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
6,763
Reaction score
1,619
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Private
It sounds like perfectibility in Tocqueville: always improving, but never reaching "perfection."
That was my thoughts about it as well. What does Tocqueville have to say about it?
 

TheGirlNextDoor


DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 21, 2009
Messages
20,033
Reaction score
7,647
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Other
First, one would have to define perfection. That may be harder than a person actually striving for that perceived 'perfection'.

A person could strive for perfection, but at what point would that be reached and who defines what that even is?
 

Fiddytree

Neocon Elitist
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
29,630
Reaction score
17,033
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Centrist
That was my thoughts about it as well. What does Tocqueville have to say about it?
It's an interesting section.


HOW EQUALITY SUGGESTS TO THE AMERICANS
THE IDEA OF THE INDEFINITE
PERFECTABILITY OF MAN
EQUALITY suggests to the human mind several ideas that would not have originated from any other source, and it modifies almost all those previously entertained. I take as an example the idea of human perfectibility, because it is one of the principal notions that the intellect can conceive and because it constitutes of itself a great philosophical theory, which is everywhere to be traced by its consequences in the conduct of human affairs.

Although man has many points of resemblance with the brutes, one trait is peculiar to himself: he improves; they are incapable of improvement. Mankind could not fail to discover this difference from the beginning. The idea of perfectibility is therefore as old as the world; equality did not give birth to it, but has imparted to it a new character.

When the citizens of a community are classed according to rank, profession, or birth and when all men are forced to follow the career which chance has opened before them, everyone thinks that the utmost limits of human power are to be discerned in proximity to himself, and no one seeks any longer to resist the inevitable law of his destiny. Not, indeed, that an aristocratic people absolutely deny man's faculty of self-improvement, but they do not hold it to be indefinite; they can conceive amelioration, but not change: they imagine that the future condition of society may be better, but not essentially different; and, while they admit that humanity has made progress and may still have some to make, they assign to it beforehand certain impassable limits.

Thus they do not presume that they have arrived at the supreme good or at absolute truth (what people or what man was ever wild enough to imagine it? ), but they cherish an opinion that they have pretty nearly reached that degree of greatness and knowledge which our imperfect nature admits of; and as nothing moves about them, they are willing to fancy that everything is in its fit place. Then it is that the legislator affects to lay down eternal laws; that kings and nations will raise none but imperishable monuments; and that the present generation undertakes to spare generations to come the care of regulating their destinies.

In proportion as castes disappear and the classes of society draw together, as manners, customs, and laws vary, because of the tumultuous intercourse of men, as new facts arise, as new truths are brought to light, as ancient opinions are dissipated and others take their place, the image of an ideal but always fugitive perfection presents itself to the human mind. Continual changes are then every instant occurring under the observation of every man; the position of some is rendered worse, and he learns but too well that no people and no individual, however enlightened they may be, can lay claim to infallibility; the condition of others is improved, whence he infers that man is endowed with an indefinite faculty for improvement. His reverses teach him that none have discovered absolute good; his success stimulates him to the never ending pursuit of it. Thus, forever seeking, forever falling to rise again, often disappointed, but not discouraged, he tends unceasingly towards that unmeasured greatness so indistinctly visible at the end of the long track which humanity has yet to tread.

It can hardly be believed how many facts naturally flow from the philosophical theory of the indefinite perfectibility of man or how strong an influence it exercises even on those who, living entirely for the purposes of action and not of thought, seem to conform their actions to it without knowing anything about it.

I accost an American sailor and inquire why the ships of his country are built so as to last for only a short time, he answers without hesitation that the art of navigation is every day making such rapid progress that the finest vessel would become almost useless if it lasted beyond a few years. In these words, which fell accidentally, and on a particular subject, from an uninstructed man, I recognize the general and systematic idea upon which a great people direct all their concerns. Aristocratic nations are naturally too liable to narrow the scope of human perfectibility; democratic nations, to expand it beyond reason.
 

reefedjib

DP Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2009
Messages
6,763
Reaction score
1,619
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Private
It's an interesting section.
This is interesting. It sounds to me as if he talks about both systemic knowledge, as well as intellectual capacity and evolution. It is through the combined efforts of the classless people that improvements are made. Am I wrong in my interpretation?
 

Fiddytree

Neocon Elitist
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
29,630
Reaction score
17,033
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Centrist
Nah, you are about there. The only things is that with Tocqueville, he believes there is often a give-and-take situation with democracy. Part of him believes that democracy, or, rather, equality, gives you a favorable disposition that believes much is possible and with their system, much does change and perhaps improves. Then, the other half of him believes that democracy either overemphasizes just how much perfectibility can be had, and I guess not put in that section (but discussed later..I always forget that about the guy-he revisits a topic without warning) he says that democracy removes the degree to which an individual can make a difference.
 

Korimyr the Rat

Baby Eating Monster
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Messages
19,553
Reaction score
15,756
Location
Cheyenne, WY
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
Perfection is impossible, but I think that is beside the point of the question.

Man is improvable, but only in accordance with his nature. The failure of previous attempts at building a utopia lies squarely on the fact that previous utopias sought to improve Man without understanding him.
 
Top Bottom