Re: MD Irrationality

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Tue Sep 24 2002 - 14:56:37 BST

Hi Wim:

> The passage from 'Lila' you quoted doesn't explicitly claim the MoQ to be
> fully rational and the supposed agreement of logical positivism and MoQ
> doesn't implicitly make the MoQ fully rational either. I never really
> studied logical positivism. I have a feeling however that Pirsig slightly
> overstated his case. Some logical positivists may go along with experience
> = value/Quality/Reality and with distinguishing different types of
> value/Quality/Reality (inorganic, biological, social and intellectual) if
> properly defined. I am not so sure however that they will also go along
> with static/Dynamic as first and fundamental cut of Reality and with
> Pirsig's inference of moral evolution (things getting better on the whole).

I agree. What a meant to convey was that the MOQ doesn't completely
reject either rationality or SOM. They make up the bulk of intellectual
patterns which, from the perspective of evolutionary morality, are
superior to social level patterns.
> My implicit point was that 'rational - irrational' can't be squarely
> translated into 'good - bad' as you seem to do.

Indeed I do. I associate the irrational with patterns below intellectual
patterns and therefore of less quality or relatively "bad."

>There is a 'pre/trans'
> distinction to be made here too. Intellectual moral evolution may start
> from prerational (magical and mythical) modes of thinking. These are
> transcended and included in rational modes of thinking, which may
> themselves be transcended and included in post-rational modes of thinking.

Any thoughts on what a post-rational world would be like?

> Rationally we can see a (limited) value in magic and myths: they help
> primitive people to organize themselves amid the law of the jungle at the
> social level (families/clans/societies internally cooperating and
> externally competing for power and the natural resources needed for
> collective survival). A rational mode of thinking can arise when people
> experience that collective survival can also (partly) be guaranteed by
> 'producing' economic value (rather than just 'consuming' scarce natural
> resources). From a post-rational point of view we can see a (limited) value
> in the individualism that arises with rational thinking and making society
> more productive: individual freedom to experiment and to reap a
> disproportional part from the collective positive results helps identifying
> the most productive ways of organizing things. A post-rational mode of
> thinking can arise when people experience that individual and collective
> survival is not (always) at stake any more and to the extent that there is
> leisure to satisfy other than economic values. I understand both the MoQ
> and Rorty's-ideas-as-interpreted-by-Matt K. as attempts to transcend and
> include rational thinking.

You imply that a post-rational world would be one where everyone has
their economic needs satisfied. Is such a Utopian vision really possible?
Who is say what one's economic needs are? I would like anyone who is
dissatisfied with the world as it stands today to tell us how things ought
to be and to present a detailed blueprint of how to accomplish it.

> "The tests of truth are logical consistency, agreement with experience, and
> economy of explanation. The Metaphysics of Quality satisfies these."
> (According to Pirsig in 'Lila' chapter 8) I agree, with the caveat that the
> division of Quality in sq and DQ may not be 'understandable' to everyone
> without recourse to either paradoxes and metaphors or 'logic of
> contradictory identity' (without that it may seem 'logically inconsistent'
> to state that some phenomenon -e.g. science- is both static and Dynamic).

I don't see any need for recourse to irrationality. In his SODV paper,
Pirsig explicitly says science recognizes and pursues DQ (the
Conceptually Unknown) without contradiction to its static aspects.

> The MoQ is a high quality intellectual pattern of values and 'truth' is a
> measure of intellectual quality. These 'tests of truth' are the rules of
> the game of 'identifying truth/Reality/objectivity' that constitutes most
> of the intellectual level. (This is very close to your SOLAQI-idea, Bo,
> except for the 'most' and except for the implication that the MoQ is part
> of the intellectual level because it satisfies these criteria.)
> I still maintain however that 'a society that sticks to existing criteria
> for distinguishing facts from fictions and truths from falsehoods
> ("objective" from "subjective") tries (vainly) to insulate itself from DQ'.
> NOT because it sticks to THESE criteria for identifying truth, but because
> it sticks to criteria for IDENTIFYING TRUTH and doesn't recognize that
> there may be higher levels of static quality to jump for (that transcend
> but also include intellectual quality).

I agree that a society that sticks to anything other than individual liberty
is of lower moral value than an individual pursuing DQ who recognizes
as you do that "there may be higher levels of static quality to jump for."
Societies only change one person at a time and someone has to be
first, as Pirsig said. So if you want to change society, concentrate on
giving individuals maximum freedom to follow their bliss and tell others
of their discoveries. This site presents a shining example of how
societies change, slowly, one person at a time. We're the vanguard of
positive change don't you think?
> You wrote:
> 'I've read about concerns among native Hollanders that the uncontrolled
> immigration of Muslims and their higher birth rates threaten to overrun the
> country with a Muslim majority in a generation or two. Is this true? Is
> this desirable from your viewpoint?'

Thanks for a balanced report on the immigrant situation in Holland as
seen from the front line. I didn't mean to appear Europe-bashing and
don't think getting into an argument about American's "uncritical
acceptance of historical texts" as you charge will lead anywhere. I
apologize if my question offended you.

As always, I look forward to your views.


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