Re: MD food for thought

From: John Beasley (
Date: Mon Sep 09 2002 - 08:17:02 BST

Hullo Darrell,

Nice to hear from you. The delay was because I have been away a few

Yes, the acronyms we use are confusing at first. I would prefer that we
just used the few that Pirsig himself adopted, such as SOM and MOQ, DQ
and sq. But we have all sorts of hybrids such as Bo's famous SOLAQI
which I still don't fully understand, and if you look at Matt's great
little essay (reposted today) on the same thread as this (Food for
thought) you'll find him arguing for a lot of individual QMs, meaning
our own variants of quality metaphysics. I like his idea, but its a pity
we now have QMs to interpret.

I'm not sure I get the sense of your argument on consciousness. I've
re-read the section on the horns of the dilemma in ZAMM (sorry, "Zen
and...") and still don't see it. It seems to be a logical investigation
of the subject/object world and how quality fits within those
categories. Pirsig's famous solution was to place quality as prior to
both subjects and objects, and leave it undefinable, the substance of

Consciousness is notoriously hard to define. David Chalmers, something
of a guru in the consciousness debate, starts his big and boring book
'The Conscious Mind' by saying "Consciousness is the biggest mystery."
He goes on, "We do not just lack a detailed theory; we are entirely in
the dark about how consciousness fits into the natural order." He
divides the debate into the 'easy problems' and the 'hard problems', and
admits that about a quarter to a third of academics and students don't
even recognise the 'hard problems', and that this is some sort of
conceptual divide that is immune to argument. He himself is not
particularly interested in what is usually termed 'self consciousness',
using the rather difficult formulation that "a being is conscious if
there is something it is like to be that being", that is, phenomenal
consciousness. Hence Julian Jaynes hugely stimulating book 'The Origin
of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind' is dismissed in
one sentence.

It is worth reading Scott's 7th Sept post where he says
"My answer to the question of consciousness is that it is backwards:
that consciousness must be presupposed, and everything else explained as
products of consciousness. It isn't that big a leap from this to the
MOQ, to explain everything else in terms of Quality, but only if the two
are considered alternate names. If we don't do that, then we still have
to explain where20
consciousness comes from."

I would be interested to know more clearly what you mean by
consciousness, and how it fits the horns of the dilemma argument.


John B

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