The Unattainable Ideal Paradox

What is The Unattainable Ideal Paradox?

The Unattainable Ideal Paradox is like chasing the end of a rainbow. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t quite reach it. It’s the idea that we set up a perfect goal or dream in our minds – the ideal – that is so high, it’s actually impossible to achieve. This creates a puzzle or a ‘paradox’ because while we work super hard to reach this goal, deep down we know it’s out of reach. It’s like an artist trying to paint the perfect picture but never being satisfied because perfection can’t really be captured.

To make it even clearer, imagine you’re playing a video game and there’s a level that can’t be won, no matter what you do. That’s what the Unattainable Ideal Paradox is about. It’s about the confusion and sometimes the sadness or frustration that comes from aiming for something that, turns out, we can’t grab hold of. This happens in real life when we look for perfect happiness, success or beauty, but find out they don’t have an ultimate form.


The idea of chasing things we can’t ever get is really old. Thinkers like Plato, thousands of years ago, were already talking about how we can’t find perfect versions of things on Earth. The exact phrase “The Unattainable Ideal Paradox” is newer, though. It describes how, nowadays, we keep setting the bar higher for ourselves, pushed by what we see in media, by what society says, and by our own inner voice that tells us to keep aiming higher and higher.

Key Arguments

  • Going after an ideal can push us to get better and set high standards for what we want to do and who we want to be.
  • An ideal can point us in a direction and give us a goal to strive for, even if we can’t actually reach it perfectly.
  • Always chasing an ideal might make us feel sad, upset, or like we’ve failed because it’s so hard to reach perfect anything.
  • Trying for unattainable ideals can also make us stressed or less happy because we never feel like we’re good enough.
  • When everyone in society aims for impossible ideals, like looking perfect or always being happy, it can make unhealthy rules that everyone thinks they have to follow.

Answer or Resolution (if any)

Even though there’s no perfect solution to the Unattainable Ideal Paradox, there are things we can do to make it less of a problem. We can change how we think, aiming for step-by-step progress instead of absolute perfection. We can rethink our goals to make them tough but possible. Philosophers and psychologists suggest we should accept that being imperfect is part of life and find joy in the effort and growth, not just in trying to reach the end goal.

Major Criticism

Some people say that going after things we can never get is a waste of time and can even hurt us. They think this paradox can make us freeze up and do nothing or push us too hard in ways that can mess with our mental health. They also point out that if we’re only focused on the top prize, we might miss out on enjoying the good things we can actually achieve and have right now.

Practical Applications

Even though it seems like a big problem, understanding the Unattainable Ideal Paradox can actually help us in real life. Here’s how:

  • Personal Development: Knowing about this paradox can guide us to set goals for making our lives better that are big but that we can actually reach. This way, we grow without the weight of trying to be perfect.
  • Education: Teachers can encourage students to aim for doing really well but also to understand that learning is a journey. Mistakes are not just okay; they help us learn.
  • Business: Businesses can work toward leading their industry while being smart about competing in the market and growing in a way that lasts.
  • Social Policy: People who make laws can remember that even though we can’t have a perfect society, we can still make big, meaningful improvements.

Additional Thoughts

Getting why The Unattainable Ideal Paradox happens helps us to find a middle ground between dreaming big and staying realistic. It reminds us to use ideals as a guide but not forget the real world we live in. This way, we walk through life with clear goals and feel more at peace with ourselves.

In short, The Unattainable Ideal Paradox challenges us to think about how we balance our hopes with what we can really do. It’s about looking hard at our goals and understanding the effects they have on our lives. There’s no magic answer to this puzzle, but knowing it’s there can help us make better plans for ourselves and lead happier and more balanced lives.

Related Topics

  • Perfectionism: This is when someone tries to make everything absolutely perfect. It’s linked to the paradox because it’s about chasing unreal standards that can stress us out or make us unhappy.
  • Goal-Setting Theory: This theory looks at how we make goals and what motivates us. It’s connected to the paradox because it explores how important it is to set goals that are challenging but that we can actually accomplish.
  • Existentialism: This is a way of thinking that says personal freedom and choice are very important. It’s related to the paradox because it talks about making sense of life when there are no clear, perfect paths to follow.