Re: MD Structuralism in Pirsig

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Wed May 21 2003 - 00:25:41 BST

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    Hi Matt, Platt, Wim, DMB, all
    Matt said to DMB's claims about Matt's lack of political activism:
    > On the rest of what you said, its a good example of why I don't like the
    > MoQian "battle lines" between the 3rd and 4th levels. I think it makes the
    > mistake of making philosophy a political weapon. Philosophy may be a good
    > handmaiden to politics, but it is a poor master. I use the French Revolution
    > and the Reign of Terror as one example.

    Wim and Platt have been talking about their political differences as well,
    and I've been thinking about Wilber's way of distinguishing liberals and
    conservatives which I think is far more useful than trying to use social
    versus intellectual versus dynamic.

    Wilber suggests (and I agree) that the best distinguishing factor between
    liberals and conservatives is answers to the the question, "why is Joe
    Anybody suffering?"

    The conservatives say that Joe is lazy and suggest that our social and
    economic policies should offer better incentives to get Joe off his ass.
    They suggest we need to instill traditional family values and bring back
    that good old immigrant work ethic. Conservatives focus on internal
    causational of suffering and offer solutions that focus on internal

    The liberals say that Joe is oppressed by society. It's not Joe's fault.
    You are insensitive if the idea even crosses your mind. (After all liberals
    don't tend to believe in internal development. E.g. Matt K) They will
    suggest external solutions to alleviate the suffering that was imposed upon
    Joe from the outside.

    This is obviously an SOM distinction, but it is silly to think that the MOQ
    levels would do a better job than SOM in distinguishing the American
    political camps than SOM since we are talking about how SOM thinking people
    have divided themselves. This is no Platypus for the MOQ to clear up. The
    difference between liberals and conservatives is a result of SOM thinking
    and is thus easiest to understand in SOM terms.

    Only after making this external/internal causation political dichotomy can
    the MOQ help us understand why the liberals cringe at the idea of internal
    causation and can't stomach talking about internal development. It's
    because of the sort of internal development the conservatives are usually
    suggesting. They want to lift us all up to the social level by instilling
    social level values. The liberals who tend to be more intellectual and see
    the conservative values as degenerate are so turned off by these
    ethnocentric values that they in turn reject talking about values and
    morality altogether in favor of talking about how to make the system less
    cruel and oppressive.

    So conservatives are right to say that internals matter, but they generally
    talk about internals only up to a lower level. They are also wrong to think
    that society isn't often oppressive.

    Liberals tend to be more internally developed but then turn around and
    reject the idea of internal development, thus preventing society's overall

    To get Pirsig excited about their ideas, liberals and conservatives will
    both need to take both internals and externals into account in policy making
    and program creation:

    "My personal feeling is that this is how any further improvement of the
    world will be done: by individuals making Quality decisions and that's all.
    God, I don't want to have any more enthusiasm for big programs full of
    social planning for big masses of people that leave individual Quality out.
    These can be left alone for a while. There's a place for them but they've
    got to be built on a foundation of Quality within the individuals involved.
    We've had that individual Quality in the past, exploited it as a natural
    resource without knowing it, and now it's just about depleted. " ZAMM


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