The Conduct of Life

By Benedetto Croce; Arthur Livingston | Go to book overview

XXVII
Perfection and Imperfection

"PERFECTION is not of this world," saith the proverb; and it saith well, leaving to us mean- time (as all proverbs do -- and that is their imperfection!) the task of discovering its true meaning and the reason for it. In the first place, if perfection is not of this world, it certainly is not of any other -- that is to say, it is an abstraction; and the abstract is the unreal, the radically, the irremediably unreal.

And why? Why should perfection be unreal?

The demand for perfection is addressed primarily and directly to our actions and urges us to see to it that they be, with reference to their intrinsic purposes, what they pretend to be: pure, unadulterated thought, if it is a case of thinking; pure imagination, if it is a case of art; acts of utility and skill, and nothing else, if these are directed to individual welfare; acts looking toward the universal good

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