The idea of the perfectibility of man emerges in the 18th century, with the relaxation of the theological barriers protecting the property for God alone. In Enlightenment writers such as the Condorcet and Godwin, perfectibility becomes a tendency actually capable of being realized in human history. Before Kant, both Rousseau and the Scottish thinker Lord Monboddo (1714–99) envisaged perfectibility as the power of self-rule and moral progress. The 19th century represented the high-water mark of belief in perfectibility, under the influence first of Saint-Simon, then Kant, Hegel, Comte and Marx . With the arrival of the theory of evolution it was possible to see successive economic and cultural history as a progress of increasing fitness, from primitive and undeveloped states to a potential ideal associated with freedom and self-fulfilment. This optimism, frequently allied with unlimited confidence in the bettering of the human condition through the advance of science, has not survived the battering of the 20th century. See also absolute idealism, evolutionary ethics, postmodernism, progress, social Darwinism.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Perfectibility — Per*fect i*bil i*ty, n. [Cf. F. perfectibilit[ e].] The quality or state of being perfectible. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • perfectibility — noun The possibility of achieving perfection. In a project involving many people, maintainability is a more useful asset than perfectibility …   Wiktionary

  • perfectibility — noun the capability of becoming perfect (Freq. 1) he believes in the ultimate perfectibility of man • Ant: ↑imperfectibility • Derivationally related forms: ↑perfectible • Hypernyms: ↑capability, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • perfectibility — noun see perfectible …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • perfectibility — See perfectible. * * * …   Universalium

  • perfectibility — pÉ™(r) fektÉ™ bɪlÉ™tɪ n. ability to be refined; ability to be improved; ability to be made perfect …   English contemporary dictionary

  • perfectibility — per·fect·ibil·i·ty …   English syllables

  • Thomas Jefferson: On Science and the Perfectibility of Man — ▪ Primary Source              Science and mathematics were high on the long list of subjects that interested Jefferson, and he thus took special care in replying to a letter from William Green Mumford, who had sought Jefferson s opinion of their… …   Universalium

  • self-perfectibility — n. * * * …   Universalium

  • self-perfectibility — n …   Useful english dictionary

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