Perfection is the concept of something that is completely flawless or complete.
Perfection, in the sense of being flawless, is derived from discussions by Aristotle (384-322 BCE) of privation, or deficiency. Aristotle stated that “a doctor and a musician are ‘perfect’ when they have no deficiency in respect of the form of their peculiar excellence.” In other words, a “perfect” specimen is flawless in every way with respect to its performance of its profession or its embodiment of its species. This, however, is just one sense of a concept that is key to Aristotle’s philosophy. Being good is not the same thing as being perfect. More exactly, attaining virtue involves practice; but practice never truly makes perfect because we always can do better.
The word “perfect” is a translation of the Greek teleion, a derivative of the polysemous word telos. In this context, the relevant meaning of telos is “end,” or “goal.” With this in mind, the English translation “perfect” can be understood to encapsulate the idea of being complete, of having fulfilled a goal. This was important for Aristotle because, as a matter of principle, he believed that all things exist for a reason-that is, they have some telos-and that all things naturally strive toward the fulfillment of their telos. Therefore, perfection, for Aristotle, is something all things strive for, be they a blade of grass or a human being. For Aristotle, happiness itself is the most perfect of all things. So it made sense to strive for both siblings—happiness and perfection.
In biology, Aristotle employs this notion to explain (in part) the various stages of an organism’s development-each is a step toward the fulfillment of its telos. In cosmology, however, Aristotle employs the idea very generally, suggesting that the telos of all heavy bodies invariably drives them toward a state of rest around a cosmic center point. That all heavy bodies fall to Earth is evidence that this center point is, in fact, Earth. In this way, perfection is a concept wholly entangled with geocentrism.