On January 17th, 2002, a group of scientists from the Presidential Biomedical Committee carried out a session entitled "Science and the Pursuit of Perfection", based on studying of a short story of Nathaniel Hawthorne "The Birth-Mark".
This discussion proved to be very interesting and professional.
Especially, I liked the line in these debates, initiated by Prof. Meilaender. The participants have been discussing the contrasts between scientist Aylmer and his "earthly" assistant Aminadab, and the conclusion was: even "animal nature" has better intuition and can understand danger and worthlessness of human involving into "God's business".
Besides, I totally agree with the experts, that Aylmer's perfectionism in the story is extremely aggressive, and his attempt to remove the birthmark is a very repulsive act. It is really unbelievable, how can a birthmark of his loving and caring young wife, who is loyal and devoted to her husband, become such an annoying element There are thousands of people among us, who live with much more ugly defects of skin or body, but it does not change attitude and care of their loving relatives and true friends.
Only I do not quite share the position of Prof. Mary Ann Glendon and some other experts, who hesitated in Aylmer's being "a man of science". They called him "magician" or "narcissist". I suppose, he was a good and very experienced scientist and alchemist, because there were few opportunities for studying "real science" in those times.
To my mind, Aylmer got into a psychological trap and started hating his wife for her birthmark not because only of his scientific aspirations for perfection, but becau ...