Re: MD food for thought

From: Scott R (
Date: Thu Sep 05 2002 - 23:59:36 BST


On your first charge, that I "try to make [my] favourite authors'
argument into MOQ arguments and that does not always jel", guilty as
charged, as long as one considers that the MOQ = the metaphysics of
LILA. In a couple of ways I feel Pirsig dropped the ball, or perhaps
pulled his punches (pardon all the sports metaphors). One way was to
ignore the many/one problem. My opinion is that if this is ignored one
also has to ignore consciousness (which he did), and if one does so, one
doesn't have a complete metaphysics. In particular, he doesn't ask: what
is the difference between a static pattern of value, and awareness of a
static pattern of value. The answer to that, again in my opinion, is
that there isn't any, that is, a static pattern is a product of
awareness, as much as it is an object of awareness.

Now "object of awareness" seems to put us back in SOM, but I would say:
no, it puts us back in SOL. But this still means that my
characterization above is itself "wrong", that is, it forces the
description of perception into SOL language, but SOL language cannot, in
fact, describe perception. To do that one would have to be able to
"describe" with the logic of contradictory identity, and that of course
is a denial of SOL.

There is, at minimum, an analogy, at maximum, an identity, with the
problem of how to think of basic entities as both particles and waves.
We can't do that, because such entities do not exist in the macroscopic
world. But the macroscopic world is a product of our perception (Kant),
not a world existing independently of our perception. So here we are
again, around and around.

My point is that there is big gaping whole, both in SOM and in the MOQ,
that requires a new way of thinking. The MOQ at least denies the
absolute subject/object split, within which there is no possibility of
moving forward.

I keep bringing up Barfield and Kuhlewind, because they show how this
gap can be filled, though to truly fill it, one needs to live the
metaphysics, i.e., go through the discipline to arrive at transcendence
of S/O. But part of the discipline is familiarizing oneself with the
dogma, so to speak. Fortunately, the dogma is perfectly rational and
emprirical, as long as one doesn't blind oneself with SOM dogma. This
doesn't make it "correct" -- only transcendence can confirm it -- but,
just as the MOQ makes more sense than SOM, so does Barfield/Kuhlewind
make more sense than the MOQ, and in this case there are no blinding
features from the MOQ, just things left unconsidered. (And the MOQ has
something that Barfield/Kuhlewind do not have, namely the theory of
moral problems as conflicts between levels).

One thing, though, since you bring up Plato, is that, as I mentioned
once a while back, I think that though he and his fellows started the
intellectual level, it wasn't until the modern age (Descartes et al)
that it turned into SOM. I think one can say that they (the Greeks)
started what we call SOT, but they couldn't have called it that, since
they hadn't yet turned themselves into what we think of as subjects.
They did not, as I understand it, think of themselves as the originators
of their thoughts. Rather the individual reflected the ideas that were
considered to be in the things being thought about, or that the things
were imperfect copies of. The word "objective", or its Latin equivalent,
referred to those ideas through the medieval period. One of SOM's
mistakes is to think that what we treat as the objective is not a set of
concepts, but a non-thinking reality. The territory of science is a set
of ideas, without which we could not perceive anything. I think we need
to revive some sort of Platonic idealism, to correct this mistake, one
of nominalism's many sins.

So when you accuse Kuhlewind of making a map/territory out of
words/Platonic ideas, you are missing the bigger picture. He is saying
that Plato was correct about the reality of Ideas, but wrong to describe
them as "out there" (or we're wrong to think that Plato thought of them
as such). Rather (and very briefly -- I hope I'm not distorting this too
much), the Ideas filter through our egos to produce both our thoughts
and our perceptions, and our SOM mistake is to think of the former as
our productions and the latter as not our productions. We are not
conscious of this filtering/production, so we think of the two realms,
thoughts and percepts, as two distinct realms. If we were conscious of
the process (which we become with transcendence -- not a word Kuhlewind
uses), we would be truly thinking, and non-dualistically aware: no map,
no territory. There is also a rebirth of awareness of what the MOQ calls DQ.

Thus, SOM arises with the *rejection* of Platonism, as epitomised in
"cogito, ergo sum", the belief that I think my ideas, rather than the
Ideas think through me.

Do I agree with SOLAQI? I'm not sure. The reason it is difficult to
answer is that consciousness, and hence the intellect, has been changing
during the last 2500 years. There is the clear break with the Greeks
(though your discussion with Marco about the Sophists complicates this
point as well -- something I need to think about). I don't think that
the MOQ, as Pirsig presents it, has left the intellectual level behind,
in that it is still *presented* as a map. To avoid this -- and I think
it needs to be avoided -- one needs to learn a different semantics. I
believe that I agree with your characterization of metaphysics *as* the
level, but to achieve the MOQ level requires a change in consciousness
that we haven't yet acquired. One more Kuhlewind/Barfieldian (actually
Rudolf Steinerian) point that is highly relevant: up until now,
consciousness has changed from "outside", as it were, that is, humanity
has been changed by external forces. Subsequent changes, however, are up
to us. Hence, SOM is, more or less, how we find ourselves, but the MOQ
is something we have to achieve on our own. This is why I object to John
B. when he says we should drop metaphysics and concentrate on "immediate
experience". Such experience is the gaol, but it requires changing one's
metaphysics. The Zen Master has done so -- as you put it, a metaphysics
is a "self-contained reality". The difference now is that we can be
conscious of that fact.

Another reason I am not sure about SOLAQI is that, though again there is
the break with the Greeks, one can make a case that the intellectual
level does not, in general, yet exist. The ego is basically a social
construct, and since all our thinking is filtered through the ego, the
best we can do is to imagine a pure intellect, but we cannot yet
exercise it, except in mathematics. This would make SOT a transition
stage between the social and intellectual level, and not the
intellectual level itself. As I say, a case can be made, but not
necessarily a definitive one.

- Scott wrote:

> Scott and Company
> I have been following your heroic effort in the "Map/Territory" debate and am
> generally on your side because you see the somish undertones here, but
> you read too many books (grin) and try to make your favourite authors'
> argument into MOQ arguments and that does not always jell. On 2 Sep. you
> wrote (to Erin):
>>What I object to in the phrase is its implied nominalism, that words
>>and ideas are "mere" words and ideas, while the territory is somehow
>>independent of words and ideas. Here's Kuhlewind:
>>"Nominalism assumes that thinking is identical with words, that there
>>is no thinking without words. Nominalism forgets that words receive
>>their meaning from and through thinking, and does not see that this
>>*something*, to which a word refers, must already be *that*. To get a
>>name, a thing must first be an "idea". The belief that anything could
>>exist without an idea is anti-Logos....Naivete is the common trait of
>>all diseases of consciousness out of which have arisen both the dogma
>>that there can be a reality without cognition and the doctrine of a
>>spirit which one cannot know [agnosticism]."
> Is Kuhlewind really saying that "all we have are maps"? He rather says that
> there are no words without IDEAS which makes words=map and
> ideas=terrain ... which is the start of the S/O on its road to a full-blown
> metaphysics . Plato's shadows/idea idea (!) which turned into
> substance/form with Aristotle ...and mind/matter by and by.
>>Paticular words can of course be changed and swapped out, so it is
>>possible to translate between languages, and languages can change. So
>>when you ask "Unless you don't swallow that int & soc is subjective
>>and bio and inorganic is objective?", my answer is yes, I do swallow
>>it, and admire Pirsig's coup in devaluing the words "subjective" and
>>"objective". In SOM, of course, they are central. In the MOQ they are
>>just labels for two sets of sq, one that we know through perception,
>>the other through conception.
>>But this sounds a lot like the internal/external.
> Regarding Pirsig's way to contain the SOM it has been (mis)used by various
> persons to reinstate the SOM (Gary and 3WD) Pirsig says that inorg+bio.
> patterns are OBJECTS and soc+ intell. are SUBJECTS, but the said
> persons use it in the "objective/subjective" sense and that brings us straight
> into the internal/external.
>>First, I do not
>>consider the internal/external distinction an illusion. It is, as you
>>note, presumed in most all of our daily preoccupation. On the other
>>hand, the distinction is not fixed. Before the rise of the
>>intellectual level (according to my version of the MOQ), the internal
>>did not exist, or at least did not exist in the way it does to us.
>>That is, concepts also came "from outside". And, in mystical
>>Awakening, by most accounts, the internal/external divide is
>>transcended. So for *metaphysics* (assuming one agrees with all this),
>>it is important to do as Pirsig did.
> You are right, but now you are into the SOT way of containment. The
> intellectual value is that of the subject/object, inside/outside....etc. divide and
> of immense value, yet a mere static level. Yet the said divide keeps popping
> up - in a metaphysical sense! - again and again: Words/reality, map/terrain,
> menu/food, food/taste and so on, as if a sutle variant will finally solve the
> quandary, but no way ...except ...See below.
>>One last point (before Bo beats me to it :). The subject/object
>>divide, though temporary, is a necessary transition step, between what
>>Barfield calls "original participation" and "final participation". It
>>is an essential step in the development of self-consciousness, but it
>>is not the last step.
> He, he, thanks for mentioning me, and for the very relevant comments that
> follow. Arriving at this point however, let's compare notes. The comment that
> you made to Platt ...about admitting to the map argument in the sense that
> there is nothing but maps, I commented by saying that this is only a thin line
> from denying the map/terrain divide altogether. My own argument is that the
> objection is words, maps ...etc. too. These two (counter-)arguments are
> related, but leaves a disappointed feeling stoops to the same level.
> Don't you agree?
> My final solution is as always the SOLAQI. It looks as if you agree on the first
> part (SOT/SOL) but I haven't been able to figure out your attitude to the last.
> Anyway I'll try to sum it up as it applies to the map/terrain problem. A
> metaphysics (in the pirsigean sense ) is a self-contained reality and the
> MOQ leaves a clean cut behind: The parent reality (SOM) is suddenly seen
> as the intellectual level (of its own level system). In this view ALL levels were
> "metaphysics" of the era when it was top notch, but as a new (metaphysics)
> level established itself it automatically made its predecessor part of itself. I
> put quotations mark on to show that the lower levels weren't/aren't language-
> based, but it doesn't make a difference.
> This makes the MOQ impervious: All arguments about it being a map can
> be brushed off as the lower value (intellect) devouring the higher (the
> Quality), while seen as an intellectual pattern, which IS the map/territory view
> itself, it is lost. The SOL interpretation makes the MOQ into a metaphysical
> counterpart to Quantum Mech. which explains/predicts everything perfectly,
> but is sheer nonsense if interpretated from Newtonian physics.
> As always in my opinion
> Bo
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