# The Paradox of Perfection: Why Perfectionism Holds Us Back
Epistemology is one of the great roads to knowledge. From there, we can make sense of anything, from the question of what we need to eat to the question of how the world works.
## What Is Knowledge?
Knowledge must be gained by experiential knowledge, through analysis and reasoning.
Epistemologists are divided over the nature of knowledge. On one side are the formal epistemologists, who argue that knowledge is born from studying the object of knowledge, and expanding one’s knowledge base through further experimentation. The formalist believes that knowledge comes about through human reasoning. We make rational choices in terms of how we reason about an object and its knowledge.
Aristotle was the first person to formulate the idea of knowing by analogy. He argued that our knowledge is informed by our experience, our body, and our senses.
The modern scientific method is the perfect demonstration of this epistemological point. Scientists continually perform experiments and take tests, and then apply logic and reason to determine what, if anything, is going on. They act within a framework of reasoning, testing their hypotheses against observations and testing them again and again until the optimal theory is discovered.
There’s one problem: These tests have a limit. Once a theory is “settled,” no further evidence is allowed. Nothing can change the hypothesis once it’s been demonstrated. Science moves forward because if a theory cannot be tested, it’s considered wrong.
But what if no theory is ever discovered, no matter how many scientists and tests are done? Is it possible for things to remain unchanged and unchallenged, as they have been for billions of years? Is there something about the nature of reality that makes it impossible to test new ideas? The answer to that question, according to many modern epistemologists, is yes.
## Science and Knowledge
Science is the practice of discovering and testing knowledge. But that’s not the only type of knowledge. What if your knowledge of the world is actually changing the world? What if you’re never done learning, and aren’t finished learning ever? What if that’s the very essence of human nature?
I believe that everything changes. And that, in some way, we are all becoming other people. Even the properties that we once thought were constants — such as logic and reasoning — will one day change. And that’s the only constant of this world.
We know everything that we can know about the world, but we don’t know everything about the world. There’s an infinite amount of hidden knowledge that isn’t yet discovered.
But even if that were true, I believe that it would still be true that we are who we are. The objects of knowledge that we know about are changing us. Every time we create a new theory, we are forced to take a step back, ask a question, and begin to reconsider our beliefs. Every time we design a new experiment, we create new evidence that suggests our beliefs aren’t true. Every time we discover something new in science, we are forced to examine what we thought we knew, and see if it is still true. And every time we form a new theory, we are forced to question our own understanding of the world. We don’t find one truth. We find two truths — the scientific truth and personal truth.
When you recognize that science is never finished, you’ll be less likely to set aside personal beliefs or concerns just because they don’t agree with some belief you hold about the world. And when you put your personal beliefs aside, you’ll learn something about yourself in the process.