In , in 1757, the important aesthetician denied that perfection was the cause of beauty. Quite the contrary, he argued that beauty nearly always involved an element of ; for example, women, in order to heighten their attractiveness, emphasized their weakness and frailty, which is to say, their imperfection.
Earlier in the 18th century, 's leading aesthetician, , had questioned whether perfection was a more comprehensible idea than beauty. had treated perfection as an unreal concept, and wrote , "Let us not seek the of perfection, but that which is the best possible."
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In the latter part of the 18th century, wrote much in his about perfection — inner and outer, objective and subjective, qualitative and quantitative, perceived clearly and obscurely, the perfection of nature and that of art. Nevertheless, in aesthetics Kant found that "The judgment of taste [i.e., aesthetic judgment] is entirely independent of the concept of perfection" — that is, beauty was something different from perfection.
The 18th century was the last for which perfection was a principal concept in aesthetics. In the 19th century, perfection survived only vestigially as a general expression of approval. held that "Perfection is no more attainable for us than is infinity. One ought not to seek it anywhere: not in love, nor beauty, nor happiness, nor virtue; but one should love it, in order to be virtuous, beautiful and happy, insofar as that is possible for man."