From: Platt Holden (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Nov 01 2004 - 14:41:12 GMT
Hi David M, msh:
> msh says:
> As soon as you say that Quality has preferences, (if you mean it
> literally, not poetically), you've already personified Quality.
> Well only if you think of all agency in terms of persons.
> Pirsig makes us ask questions like do electrons prefer certain states in
> atoms? I suspect this makes you uncomfortable. If there is no agency in the
> emergence of static patterns for you then are you not just a mechanist?
> Without prefererence there is no quality I would suggest.
Exactly. If Pirsig had meant the terms in question to be poetic he would
have written a poem. Everyday prose, which Pirsig is thankfully partial
to, constantly uses metaphorical expressions to promote understanding.
Consider the creation metaphor used repeatedly by the priests of science,
namely, "The Big Bang." Or think of the personifications science has used
to describe evolutionary processes, such as "ancestries," genetic "codes."
and "selfish genes." Even the constant reference to a "struggle for
survival" is a poetic metaphor, yet would anyone claim it doesn't
accurately portray reality?
In saying Quality has preferences, Pirsig isn't being "poetic," (meaning
writing just for emotional effect), but instead is describing reality
according to his empirically-based intellectual philosophy. This is made
clear in many passages from Lila but perhaps none more so than the
"If chemistry professors exercise choice, and chemistry professors are
composed exclusively of atoms, then it follows that atoms must exercise
choice too. The difference between these two points of view is
philosophic, not scientific. The question of whether an electron does a
certain thing because it has to or because it wants to is completely
irrelevant to the data of what the electron does.
"So what Phaedrus was saying was that not just life, but everything, is an
ethical activity. It is nothing else. When inorganic patterns of reality
create life the Metaphysics of Quality postulates that they've done so
because it's "better" and that this definition of "betterness"-this
beginning response to Dynamic Quality-is an elementary unit of ethics upon
which all right and wrong can be based." (Lila, 12)
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