Re: MD Structuralism in Pirsig

Date: Tue May 20 2003 - 23:57:57 BST

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    Steve said:
    It sounds like cruelty is a sort of undefinable anti-Quality for you.  Does
    that make sense?

    Ah, yeah, that makes sense. Much like Pirsig's opposite of Quality being "care" in ZMM (something I wish Pirsig had spent more time developing). Care is what motivates us to alleviate cruelty.

    Steve said:
    Again with the anti-Quality of cruelty.  It sounds like you think by
    meditating on cruelty we can work towards perfecting ourselves, which is the
    other side of the coin of what you criticized about Plato previously.

    No, I don't think meditating on cruelty will help us work towards alleviating it. You're right, that would be Platonic. What I think needs meditating upon are specific instances of cruelty, meditation upon the phenomena of reality to determine where and when cruelty occurs and to whom. That's why literature performs this function better than theory. Literature portrays specific phenomena, while theory generalizes. Literature can pull us into caring for the phenomena it portrays, while theory can tend to extrapolate to abstraction which can leave it cold.

    Steve said:
    I prefer Pirsig's positive goal of Quality instead of negative goals of
    freedom from oppression and cruelty.  This may be a matter of taste (in the
    sense of a moral decision, as all decisions are, for which inter-subjective
    agreement does not seem so important.)

    I actually don't see a difference between the two formulations. I'm not sure what the positive goal of Quality is outside of being a higher Quality person, which, I assume, would include something like caring for other people and wanting to stop the cruelty being done to them.

    Steve asked:
    Is progress in any way distinguished from changing tastes in
    your philosophy?

    I'm not really sure what this question means. I'll take a stab, though. I take it you mean, "Is there a universal measure of progress, or is progress determined by your philosophy?" Under this formulation, I side with the second part of the disjunction. I don't think there is a universal standard sitting somewhere determining how much progress humanity has made. The only thing that measures progress are people. Specifically, a community of people in intersubjective agreement can determine if they are making progress by their own lights.

    Steve said:
    Perhaps one difference in Pirsig's and your philosphy is that while you both
    see taste as morality, Pirsig and I see taste as improving throughout
    history (and through personal development) in higher levels of awareness.

    Yeah, okay. While all three of us see taste as improving through history and personal development, I don't think I would term it as reaching higher levels of awareness or cognition.


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