From: Paul Turner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jun 05 2003 - 17:30:01 BST
> I've found it useful to see the distinction between
> social and intellectual
> levels in my own thought, rather than in externals.
I think associating social patterns of value with
thinking creates a fuzzy distinction between the 3rd
and 4th levels. To me, it is better to say that
thought is always an intellectual pattern of value.
As Pirsig states, if you don’t keep the distinction
between levels sharp, the MOQ can confuse when it is
supposed to clarify.
To clarify my view of the social level, I don't see
social patterns of value as the groups of bodies, and
as such, external or objective. But if we try to
identify social patterns of value today we can see
specific organisations and institutions that are
always superimposed on biological patterns, i.e.
humans. They need them. However, social patterns can
go on completely separately from specific humans over
Identifying historical social patterns of value is
also possible and will not always be linked to
specific people. Pirsig’s discussion of the Victorian
social pattern of value is an example of this.
> Social level thinking is
> that which is driven by social concerns, and is not
> much under my control.
The social evaluation of your thoughts in terms of
approval is what I would say is not much under your
> What Buddhists call monkey-mind. On examination, one
> can usually see that it
> is driven by fear, greed, anger, etc.
I would say these are examples of social evaluations
of biological patterns of value, i.e. the meaning
given to a biological response in terms of high or low
Fear, greed and anger seem to be examples of a
negative judgement of biological quality by a society.
> Intellectual level thinking is, then, thinking for
> the thought itself.
‘Intellectual thinking’ is like saying ‘wet water’ to
> scientists or philosophers do when they are not
> influenced by dreams of
> Nobel prizes or tenure, or sounding good in a
> discussion group. Or what
> anyone does when they are being mindful
Yes, Nobel prizes and sounding good in a discussion
group are examples of the high quality that social
patterns give to status. The ‘approval’ of ideas is of
higher value than the ‘truth’ of them to a society or
Being mindful is an interesting one, I think that
being mindful is at a Dynamic-intellectual threshold
which tries to ‘see things as they are’ before too
much intellectual differentiation occurs. You think
being mindful is the same as being intellectual (in
the MOQ sense)?
> In practice, since the intellectual level is young,
> the intellectual thought
> is rare and when present, mixed in with the social
> (e.g., a thought sequence
> can start on the intellectual level but soon gets
> overwhelmed by social
I disagree about intellectual thought being rare –
first, I see that all thought is intellectual and
second, I think a baby starts thinking from birth or
possibly before. Along with biological evaluations, it
is essential in its development and individual
construction of reality, the social approval and
disapproval of individual ideas cements the cultural
A closing comment on the levels - I found that
Pirsig’s responses in Lila’s Child show how he would
have spent more time defining the levels with
precision in Lila if he had known how many
interpretations and fuzzy definitions were being
propagated. Clearly, as we are not Pirsig, everything
we say is an interpretation. But if we want to
understand the MOQ we can pay close attention to his
definitions and examples where he does make them.
To be clear on this, I am happy to change the way I
distinguish the levels but a criteria I have set for
my understanding is that it makes the distinction
sharp, otherwise we lose intellectual quality.
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