Re: MD SOM and quality

From: Thomas (
Date: Fri Sep 06 2002 - 08:03:01 BST

Beste Wim (and all others),

I have just been re-reading chapter 8 (not 7) on SOM and Quality,
and Pirsigs platypi. Hereafter a few comments (its a short chapter
so you will find quotes easily I think).
        [A bit of hairsplitting, but anyway: the second sentence says "only
objects are supposed to be real"; I would say that subjects are just
as well supposed to be real in SOM.]

Anyway, P is comparing the view that Quality emerges from SO to the
view that SO emerge from Quality. In my previous mail I wondered
how one could possible defend EITHER position. P is trying just that
in this chapter.
        According to P, Either view must be tested for truth. Tests of truth:
the view needs to be: 1) logically consequent, 2) agreeing with
experience and 3) economical in its explanation. Although I am unsure
about the last one, these seems to be worth taking for granted for
the time being.
        That MOQ is empiricist in the sense that it takes art, religi-on
etc. to be verifiable seems right to me. With the caveat that verifiable
does obviously NOT mean measurability, in the scientific sense. Then
follows an important passage. Pirsig combines some state-ments in
logical order.

1) If a thing can't be distinguished from anything else, it does
not exist.
2) If a thing has no value, it isn't distinguished from anyt-hing else.
Thus, 3) A thing without value does not exist.

If we accept physics' 1) and P's own 2), 3) must be true - and this
(3) is to me an acceptible statement. But then P goes on:

1) A thing without value does not exist.
2) "The thing has not created the value. The value has created the

This I do not follow. Replace 'thing' with 'tree' and 'value' with
'wood' and you will see the strangeness of this conclusion. From
1) to 2) is not a logical step by any means. It is a bit of an egg-
hen problem. And it reminds me of the eternal form-content discussion.
        Then, although earlier P relied on three tests for truth to back
MOQ, he writes "the [MOQ] does not insist on a single exclusive truth".
What follows is pretty contradictory...:

"[...] if Quality or excellence is seen as the ultimate reality then
it becomes possible for more than one set of truths to exist. Then
one doesn't seek the absolute 'Truth'."

What, now, is the difference between ultimate reality and absolute
truth? P. goes on (a few lines onwards), "saying that a Metaphysics
of Quality is false and a subject-object metaphysics is true is like
saying that rectangular coordinates are true and polar coordinates
are false. [...] in some circumstances rectangular coordinates provide
a better, simpler interpretation."
        As I now understand it, SOM is just as true as MOQ; its just a different
way of "interpreting reality" [NB - whatever that may be], but MOQ
is for P. the "better" of the two "to interpret the world".
        Now follows another series of connected statements with which P
tries to show that MOQ is better than SOM:

1) "[MOQ] can explain subject-object relationships beautifully"
2) "a [SOM] can't explain values worth a damn". [then follows a passage
to support 2)]
Thus, 3) "Value is not a subspecies of substance. Substance is a
subspecies of value"

Here, as in the first sentence I quoted, P leaves out the S of SOM.
(Or does he mean S & O with "substance"?) As I asserted in my previous
mail, Value could be a subspecies of S and O TOGETHER. Obviously
you cannot position value in eiter S or O absolutely, but you COULD
position it in both. Aside: the term subspecies I do not like. I
cannot conceive S, O, or value seperately. They could be intertwined.
Then you do not need any hierarchy. It could be a sort of constel-
lation of forces that form our experience... but this is speculation
        Wim, you had as a question that if one would defend that Q emerges
from SO, one has to explain how this works. I would say that the
same counts for the opposite position: one would have to explain
how SO emerges from Q. And either question is a pretty hard nut to
crack - so I would not use this as argument against either position.

        The rest of chapter 8, P devotes to his platypi. As this mail is
getting far too long, and the time is nearing 0000, I will save that
:o) The platypi are very interesting and deserve another mail - to
be continued!

As you all will have noted, I am a bit sceptical - but that's my
general mindset toward any theory... although I must say MOQ is an
attractive system/theory/position or whatever you want to call it.
I do believe that experience/quality is primary FOR US. Without
experience/quality not much is left. But still I do not think that
this pragmatic restriction logicallly leads to any specific metaphysical
        Better stated: We are helplessly confined to experience and quality
- for better or worse - and trying to grasp outside it: some believe
there are Objects and Subjects (but cannot really prove their existence),
some believe there is a God (but cannot prove his/her/its existence).
. Perhaps MOQ just means to stop this grasping and start just experiencing.
Then it appro-aches Buddhism closely - but turns against what is
gene-rally consi-dered a typical human activity.

But this last bit is just me and my thoughts...


ps As I cannot write too many mails during the daytime, It sometimes
takes a while to reply to you (I take printed versions of mails home
and reply on my prehistoric laptop at home, and mail the text in
the morning).

Access over 330 professionally developed online training courses
and hundreds of free tutorials and jobs. Click below for details

Mail Archive -
MD Queries -

To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 25 2002 - 16:06:30 BST