"What is here entailed is that the highest ends for which men have rightly striven and sometimes died are strictly incompatible with one another. Even if it were possible to revive the glories of the past, as those... pre-historicist thinkers who called for the return to the heroic virtues of Greece or Rome, we could not revive and unite them all. If we chose to emulate the Greeks, we cannot also emulate the Hebrews; if we model ourselves on the Chinese..., we cannot also be the Florentines of the Renaissance, or the innocent, serene, hospitable savages of the eighteen-century imagination. Even if, per impossible, we could chose among these ideals, which should we select? Since there is no common standard in terms of which to grade them, there can be no final solution to the problem of what men as such should aim at. The proposition that this question can, at last in principle, be answered correctly and finally, which few had seriously doubted since Plato had taken it for granted, is undermined. (...) But if this is so, then the notion of the perfect civilization in which the ideal human being realizes his full potentialities is patently absurd: not merely difficult to formulate, or impossible to realize in practice, but incoherent and unintelligible. This is perhaps the sharpest blow ever delivered against the classical philosophy of the West, to which the notion of perfection - the possibility, at least in principle, of universal, timeless solutions of problems of value - is essential".
Isaiah Berlin, 'Herder and the Enlightment', in: Isaiah Berlin, The Proper Study of Mankind, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000, pp. 430-1