Re: MD What's the difference? chap 13

From: phyllis bergiel (
Date: Wed May 14 2003 - 03:11:37 BST

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    Hi Johnny:

    You said (to Platt):
    > I turned the page to chapter 13 to where Pirsig changed from "they are
    > identical" to they "have almost nothing to do with" each other and the
    > paragraph about how "there are many" moral systems. So before you turn
    > page to there, let me address that.
    > What I was maintaining (and what Pirsig says in chap 12) is that all
    > patterns (of any system) have an identical desire to exist and at any
    > the morality of maintaining the pattern is the same. And it is always
    > immoral to break a pattern, but patterns are broken all the time when
    > stronger patterns use them to do their pattern. We call it moral when we
    > consider the winning pattern to be "better" or more dynamic than the
    > that is destroyed, that's all fine with me. The pattern of Carbon Dioxide
    > is broken when a plant breathes, but a plant is at a higher level, so we
    > call it better, absolutley, scientifically moral for a plant to do that.
    > But to say that the pattern of Carbon Dioxide is bad, it is stale and
    > out-moded and ought to be trashed, is obviously not moral. Plants need
    > Carbon Dioxide. They aren't breaking the pattern because they don't like
    > it, or don't like inorganic patterns in general, they are breaking the
    > patterns because they use CO2 and live off of CO2. Luckily for them,
    > are other biological and inorganic patterns that create more CO2, but if
    > there weren't, plants would die and maybe something else would come along
    > that didn't need CO2, or maybe not.
    > At the end of 13 Pirsig makes this point:
    > "Intellect is not an extension of society any more than society is an
    > extension of biology. Intellect is going its own way, and in doing so is
    > war with society, seeking to subjugate society, to put society under lock
    > and key. An evolutionary morality says it is moral for intellect to do
    > but it also contains a warning: Just as a society that weakens its
    > physical health endangers its own stability, so does an intellectual
    > that weakens and destroys the health of its social base also endanger its
    > own stability."
    > So, I think it follows that the higher patterns have to strengthen, not

    > weaken, the lower patterns.

    I respond:
    No, it does not follow. What follows is that they shouldn't be broken
    without a "cost" assessment. Some, which are arbitrary should be broken.
    Others, which are necessary or helpful to survival shouldn't. In other
    words, static patterns shouldn't be broken without examination by the higher
    level. This doesn't lead to a conclusion that the intellectual level is
    responsible for strengthening the existing social patterns. That is a non

    It also leads to an absurd conclusion. 1) No progress would ever have been
    made evolutionarily because the biologic would never have been able to
    escape existing inorganic patterns. and 2) Contra Pirsig - they are at
    war - you do not strengthen the enemy.

    Johnny also said:
        They build upon them and make use of the
    > mechanisms within them, hopefully in such a way that is renewable and
    > doesn't deplete the lower pattern.

    How would you deplete a static (this means unchanging, in stasis) pattern?

    further, johnny said:
     So saying that social codes are
    > different and don't need to be followed weakens not just the social level
    > but morality in general, including higher patterns.

    The existence of the higher level is dependent upon breaking at least one of
    the lower level patterns. That is the risk inherent in life, sometimes, we
    can't see what is lost until the pattern is broken and that may be both a
    high and a low quality experience - think about being a child living at
    home. It is both pain and pleasure to become an adult. Oh to be free!! Oh
    to do your own laundry:-)! Generally, the "cost" (of breaking the child
    pattern) isn't analyzed until one is out of underwear.

    But, one could never become an autonomous adult without breaking that child

    Choices must be made. Or, as Sartre said - we are condemned to be free.


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