Re: MD md death penalty

From: Simon Knight (
Date: Wed May 30 2001 - 16:01:57 BST

Hi Rasheed (sorry for the jumble of ideas between my response to you and
response to Platt)

> Pirsig never says human beings ARE intellectual Quality, he simply says
> they are a PART of it because they are 'collections of thoughts.' So if
> are talking about sacrificing humans in the Revolutionary War, which of
> course was fought for independence, this is moral because humans (mostly
> biological Quality, partly intellectual) are dying for a pure, noble idea
> like independence. Vietnam was fought because of the Truman doctrine of
> 50's, which basically said that the US will prevent the spread of
> no matter where it is. The whole idea of the Vietnam war was simply
> the spread of a government which we had irrational negative connotations
> with. That's not a high Quality idea in my book, i dont know about yours.
> And if it is, it's nowhere near as high as the idea of independence.

What I was confused about was that in the war example Pirsig treats human
beings as disposable to society's needs as they are biological, yet in the
capital punishment example he says that society can't kill them as they are
part of the intellectual level. Perhaps the difference might be that in the
war the soldiers were prepared to die for the intellectual ideal of
independence. But that would mean that if a murderer accepted the death
penalty as the logical consequence of his crime, but he went ahead and
killed his victim anyway because of the intellectual values he has, he
should be executed.
btw, we appear to have shifted from the civil war to the war of independence
as far as my knowledge of american history goes, but it doesn't really make
any difference. Regarding Vietnam, I think it was an immoral war, but Pirsig
might say something different - as this extract from Lila that Platt posted
>"When a society is not itself threatened, as in the execution of individual
>criminals, the issue becomes more complex. In the case of treason or
>insurrection or war a criminal's threat to a society can be very real. But
>if an established social structure is not seriously threatened by a
>criminal, then an evolutionary morality would argue that there is no
>moral justification for killing him."
The US believed that it had to stop the spread of communism, which to it was
akin to insurrectionists. Other people recommend books on this forum, I'm
going to recommend Bob Dylan's song "Talkin' John Birch Blues".
As for your book of what is good and not good, it's pretty much the same as
my book, since we presumably have much the same western upbringing and
indoctrination of morals. (I also am a fan of the beatnik movement and
Pirsig, and I used to play chess. Spooky) What tells you that independence
is a better way of living than subjugation is not the MOQ, but your western
socio-intellectual morals.

> brings me to the next thing you said, about morality being entirely
> subjective. when you cite the Pinochet situation, and argue that his
> morality is different from ours, and that he might be moral in his
> even though we find them atrocious (forgive me if i put a barrel of words
> your mouth), that's just like the boy who says, 'how do we know the sky is
> really blue? what if it's really green and we're all colorblind and see
> blue?' There's no rational argument against that; it has to be assumed
> we, as a society, can tell the difference between good and evil, for the
> part, but especially in cases like Pinochet's. and didn't he kill
> people, who are biological organims as well as a part of intellectual
> Quality?

The boy's question is the more common one to ask, but it's nonsensical, blue
is blue is blue is blue. What does it matter if it is green or not, we see
it as blue so it is blue. A better question to ask is (thanks to my drunken
conversations with Andy M), "What does blue look like to you? If I could
look through your eyes, would I see the sky as what i call blue, or what I
call green?" I seem to remember Pirsig giving the example that 2 people
raised in exactly the same ways and being exposed to exactly the same
stimuli would make identical value judgements. But if they weren't, then
their blues would be different. Yes, Pinochet's blue is different to mine
and yours, but the MOQ doesn't tell us which is the true blue. Perhaps
because there is no universal true blue (despite what Dulux might say ;~)),
blue differs depending on your static values, and the MOQ doesn't tell you
how to differentiate between different static values of the same level.
Perhaps I'm asking for too much from it.

>anyway, i just think you need to do a little more investigating
> before you dismiss Pirsig like that.

Don't worry, I'm still investigating. That's the whole point of it all isn't
it? Don't just sit back and accept something, keep moving on.

Sorry if this is really incoherent.
ps. I also too have a penchant for older women. Even spookier. ;~)

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