Re: MD The Eudaimonic MoQ

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Tue May 20 2003 - 22:34:53 BST

  • Next message: MATTHEW PAUL KUNDERT: "Re: MD Structuralism in Pirsig"

    Dear Sam,

    Part 5 of my reply to your essay
    ( as copied to
    the list (by me) in 4 parts 9 Apr 2003 22:33:54 +0200, 9 Apr 2003 22:34:14
    +0200, 10 Apr 2003 22:13:44 +0200 and 10 Apr 2003 22:13:57 +0200.


    You conclude:
    'I think that the MoQ would benefit from greater clarity about how to
    characterize the fourth level. As it presently stands, it cannot sustain
    rigorous intellectual scrutiny. This paper is an attempt to reformulate the
    MoQ, around the idea of 'eudaimonia' as the governing value of the fourth
    level, which operates on the 'choosing unit' of the autonomous individual.

    I find this conception to have higher quality than the standard account, and
    to cohere more with the evidence and my own scale of values.'

    I agree that the MoQ as presented in 'Lila' needed more clarity about how to
    characterize the 4th level, especially how to distinguish it from the 3rd
    level. Pirsig's definition in 'Lila's Child' of the 4th level as 'the
    collection and manipulation of symbols, created in the brain, that stand for
    patterns of experience' gives part of this needed clarity. I didn't find a
    proper definition of the 3rd level yet, that could throw more light on the
    distinction between this 'symbolic level' and the 3rd level that is 'not
    genetically hard-wired but yet is not symbolic'. Your quote from annotation
    49 to the published version of 'Lila's Child', 'for purposes of precision in
    the MoQ, social patterns should be defined as human and subjective', does
    not appear yet in the version I have. It is useless to distinguish the 3rd
    and 4th levels, because the 4th level is also human and subjective. (Leaving
    alone that elsewhere Pirsig did leave open the possibility of non-human
    social patterns of value and that it seems unwise to define a term in the
    MoQ with a term derived from SoM, i.e. 'subjective'.)
    As amended by me (with a distinction between 3rd and 4th level that can be
    summarized as a distinction between patterns of unthinking behavior and
    patterns of conscious motivation for action), the MoQ CAN sustain rigorous
    intellectual scrutiny, I think.

    Your definition of the 4th level differs from Pirsig's one. Mine is
    compatible with his. (Collection and manipulation of symbols for patterns of
    experience can only be conscious. Action can only be motivated by referring
    to symbolic representations of the experience resulting from that action.)
    The relation between the 3rd and 4th level in your version of the MoQ is
    not -as in Pirsig's version- one of discreteness in which (someone
    participating only in) the lower level is 'unaware' of the higher one. My
    3rd and 4th levels ARE discrete and someone participating only in patterns
    of unthinking behavior has no clue of a need for motives.
    So your version of the MoQ dissociates itself more from Pirsig's version
    than mine and can lay less of a claim on the name 'MoQ' than mine. This
    doesn't automatically imply that my version is better than yours of course.
    Yours may still serve your purposes better than mine would.

    I'll expand the second point:
    If I understood you correctly, the 3rd level in your 'Eudaimonic MoQ' (still
    defined as 'subjective customs of groups of people' as in your 'standard
    account'?) compares to the 4th level as a shrub to a tree rather than as a
    mother to a child. In other words: they are on a continuum, they are not
    discrete. A person that identifies with one or more social roles (in a
    'society' or coherent set of group customs) only changes gradually in to 'a
    fully functioning individual, ... a person in whom eudaimonia has taken
    root'. Fully in your words: 'It is an emergent property; it is not
    "either/or", it is a matter of more or less.'

    To the extent that solving the inability of 'the standard account' to
    distinguish between the 3rd and 4th level is a criterion for quality, your
    version has less quality, because your criterion for that distinction is
    only 'an emergent property; it is not "either/or", it is a matter of more or
    To the extent that coherence 'with the evidence and [your] own scale of
    values' is a criterion I would need more information about what you consider
    'evidence' and about your 'scale of values' to judge.

    It's a pity that you don't like the Kierkegaardian typology. I hoped it
    might add some clarity to discuss how you would assess persons guided by
    considerations of pleasure & pain, good & evil respectively divine guidance
    (my understanding of his typology) in your 'scale of values' and to what
    extent they participate in social and intellectual patterns of value
    according to you. I'm yet sure whether I like it or not. I hoped you could
    tell me more about it (in his words) to make sure. I definitely thought it
    is an interesting typology, however, worthy of further pondering.

    (to be continued)

    With friendly greetings,


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