Re: MD SOM and quality

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Wed Sep 11 2002 - 19:04:42 BST

Dear John B.,

You argued 6/9 21:04 +1000 against the validity at the intellectual level of
Pirsig's claim that 'a thing without value does not exist'. You seem to
agree in your 9/9 15:04 +1000 post that 'meaning' (interpreted as 'the value
of experiencing the intellectual reality that is evoked by things when
interpreted as symbols' and NOT as 'describable') is a subspecies of
'value'. So Pirsig's claim can then be translated at the intellectual level
as: something exists at the intellectual level when it evokes an
experiential reality when interpreted as symbols.

You give a colon as an example of something that 'exists' at the
intellectual level without having 'value' (use) for you (and add examples of
its meaning for you). By interpreting 'value' as 'usefulness', you are
restricting its meaning to social value (in my definition: as I wrote 3/3
1:00 +0200 for me the moral principle founding the social level is 'It is
better to do that which worked before'). So essentially you argue that a
thing at the intellectual level does not need social value to exist. I
agree. (It can have social value when and to the extent that the
intellectual pattern of values of which it is a part serves its parent
social pattern of values.)

The question is however whether a thing at the intellectual level needs
intellectual value to exist. If I interpret 'intellectual value' as
'meaning' or 'evoking experience by symbolizing it' I tend to answer this
question affirmative. You still don't? At the end of this post I copy the
part from 'Lila' chapter 12 where Pirsig stresses the differences between
types of value at the different levels.

With friendly greetings,


>From 'Lila' chapter 12:
'Once this independent nature of the levels of static patterns of value is
understood a lot of puzzles get solved. The first one is the usual puzzle of
value itself. In a subject-object metaphysics, value has always been the
most vague and ambiguous of terms. What is it? When you say the world is
composed of nothing but value, what are you talking about?
Phaedrus thought this was why no one before had ever seemed to have come up
with the idea that the world is primarily value. The word is too vague. The
"value" that holds a glass of water together and the "value" that holds a
nation together are obviously not the same thing. Therefore to say that the
world is nothing but value is just confusing, not clarifying.
Now this vagueness is removed by sorting out values according to levels of
evolution. The value that holds a g]ass of water together is an inorganic
pattern of value. The value that holds a nation together is a social pattern
of value. They are completely different from each other because they are at
different evolutionary levels. And they are completely different from the
12biological pattern that can cause the most skeptical of intellectuals to
leap-from a hot stove. These patterns have nothing in common except the
historic evolutionary process that created all of them. But that process is
a process of value evolution. Therefore the name "static pattern of values"
applies to all.'

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