Re: MD MOQ and idealism

From: David MOREY (
Date: Fri Oct 03 2003 - 20:47:35 BST

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    Thanks for this post. I think it clarifies a lot of issues
    and seems an excellent and coherent reading.

    David M

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Paul Turner" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Friday, October 03, 2003 11:08 AM
    Subject: MD MOQ and idealism

    > Hi all
    > [Bo in a discussion with Dan said:]
    > >Pirsig/MOQ is right in saying that Quality comes first (excepted from
    > >the "idea" realm. No wonder ideas/not ideas is SOM!!) and in that
    > >QUALITY context inorganic value is the first static fallout and
    > >intellect (for the time being) the last. After this inside-out-turn,
    > >re-introducing the ideas, saying that ideas is the first offshoot and
    > >that intellect is the idea realm where the rest is created - mentally -
    > >makes it a Moebus Ring of ideas. I can't for the life of me understand
    > >Pirsig doing this.
    > [Dan replied:]
    > I'm not sure how the integrity of the MOQ as RMP envisions it can be
    > maintained without coming to an understanding with annotation #67. It
    > ties
    > in with so much of his thinking that rejecting it amounts to rejecting
    > the
    > MOQ. We are of course free to develop our own metaphysics but like Mr.
    > Pirsig says, it should be named something else to prevent any confusion.
    > [Paul:]
    > I agree with Dan, this is a key point in Pirsig's thought - explained in
    > detail in ZMM but not so much in Lila which concentrates on the
    > application of the MOQ's evolutionary model to an interpretation of
    > history. Personally, it was when I considered the relationship between
    > idealism and the MOQ that Pirsig's ideas really hit home. I'm not sure
    > how clearly I can explain my understanding but I'll give it a go.
    > I think the relationship between the MOQ and idealism is summed up in
    > the statement Dan quoted from Lila's Child
    > "The MOQ says that Quality comes first, which produces ideas, which
    > produce what we know as matter. The scientific community that has
    > produced Complementarity almost invariably presumes that matter comes
    > first and produces ideas. However, as if to further the confusion, the
    > MOQ says that the idea that matter comes first is a high quality idea!"
    > [Lila's Child p.202]
    > The meaning of "Quality comes first" is described in simple terms in
    > SODV
    > "The Metaphysics of Quality follows the empirical tradition here in
    > saying that the senses are the starting point of reality, but -- all
    > importantly -- it includes a sense of value. Values are phenomena. To
    > ignore them is to misread the world. It says this sense of value, of
    > liking or disliking, is a primary sense that is a kind of gatekeeper for
    > everything else an infant learns. At birth this sense of value is
    > extremely Dynamic but as the infant grows up this sense of value becomes
    > more and more influenced by accumulated static patterns." [SODV]
    > The starting point of reality is primarily an assertion of values.
    > However, these values are patterns of experience which are not enough to
    > constitute an enduring reality of objects ordered in space and time. In
    > Lila, Pirsig explains how Quality produces objects
    > "If [a] baby ignores this force of Dynamic Quality it can be speculated
    > that he will become mentally retarded, but if he is normally attentive
    > to Dynamic Quality he will soon begin to notice differences and then
    > correlations between the differences and then repetitive patterns of the
    > correlations. But it is not until the baby is several months old that he
    > will begin to really understand enough about that enormously complex
    > correlation of sensations and boundaries and desires called an object to
    > be able to reach for one. This object will not be a primary experience.
    > It will be a complex pattern of static values derived from primary
    > experience.
    > Once the baby has made a complex pattern of values called an object and
    > found this pattern to work well he quickly develops a skill and speed at
    > jumping through the chain of deductions that produced it, as though it
    > were a single jump." [Lila p.137]
    > I think the phrase "once the baby has made a complex pattern of values
    > called an object and found this pattern to work well" is important here.
    > The baby "finds the pattern to work well"; this is a further assertion
    > of value which selects a particular correlation of patterns over others.
    > The pattern is not corresponding to anything fixed.
    > These assertions of value constitute the "chains of deduction" which
    > create "objects". They are intellectual assertions of value. Therefore,
    > in the MOQ, like idealism, objects are mental constructs. However, this
    > leaves the metaphysical problem of explaining why the mental constructs
    > made by individuals are similar enough to constitute a shared
    > "objective" reality. Instead of postulating a mind of god, an absolute
    > mind, or similar non-empirical claim, the MOQ says that
    > "What guarantees the objectivity of the world in which we live is that
    > this world is common to us with other thinking beings. Through the
    > communications that we have with other men we receive from them
    > ready-made harmonious reasonings. We know that these reasonings do not
    > come from us and at the same time we recognize in them, because of their
    > harmony, the work of reasonable beings like ourselves. And as these
    > reasonings appear to fit the world of our sensations, we think we may
    > infer that these reasonable beings have seen the same thing as we; thus
    > it is that we know we haven't been dreaming. It is this harmony, this
    > quality if you will, that is the sole basis for the only reality we can
    > ever know." [ZMM p.268]
    > and that this quality is
    > "... the sense of harmony of the cosmos, which makes us choose the facts
    > most fitting to contribute to this harmony. It is not the facts but the
    > relation of things that results in the universal harmony that is the
    > sole objective reality." [ZMM p.268]
    > In the MOQ, ideas are primarily assertions of value, assertions of a
    > sense of intellectual harmony. They have to be, everything is primarily
    > an assertion of value. The assertions are made "individually" but also
    > learned and supported through participation in cultural relationships.
    > These relationships maintain and pass on the socially approved
    > constructions which are a society's "common sense".
    > So the question remains - if ideas come first, how can the MOQ say that
    > inorganic nature comes first? I think the answer is found in the
    > statement that the MOQ itself is primarily an intellectual pattern of
    > values, and within that intellectual pattern one of the major value
    > assertions states that
    > "The MOQ does not deny the traditional scientific view of reality as
    > composed of material substance and independent of us. It says it is an
    > extremely high quality idea. We should follow it whenever it is
    > practical to do so. But the MOQ, like philosophic idealism, says this
    > scientific view of reality is still an idea. If it were not an idea,
    > then that "independent scientific material reality" would not be able to
    > change as new scientific discoveries come in." [Lila's Child p.532]
    > So in the MOQ, the ordering of the evolutionary framework of levels is
    > postulated as the best description of reality selected with a sense of
    > value from a variety of alternatives. As such, the idea of intellect
    > being the latest static level to evolve is also part of the "best
    > description" even though, to be consistent, the description itself then
    > must be located within the intellectual level! It is important to
    > remember that, in the MOQ, the fundamental reality is not associated
    > with the levels or the description but with "best", which can be
    > translated as the "most harmonious", the "highest quality", and that the
    > value that produces descriptions is prior to the talk of all levels. On
    > this subject, Pirsig writes to Ant McWatt:
    > "When we speak of an external world guided by evolution it's normal to
    > assume that it is really there, is independent of us and is the cause of
    > us. The MOQ goes along with this assumption because experience has shown
    > it to be an extremely high quality belief for our time. But unlike
    > materialist metaphysics, the MOQ does not forget that it is still just a
    > belief - quite different from beliefs in the past, from beliefs of other
    > present cultures, and possibly from beliefs we will all have in the
    > future. What will decide which belief prevails is, of course, its
    > quality."
    > Although [perhaps?] difficult to grasp, once this is understood I find
    > ZMM, Lila, SODV and Lila's Child and other available correspondence to
    > be consistent and capable of embedding aspects of idealism and
    > materialism into a single "valuist" metaphysics, of which the MOQ is one
    > version.
    > Bo also wrote:
    > "You seem to create a Metaphysics of Language (MOL) and why not? The
    > genius of Pirsig is the "something" Dynamic/Static,
    > biological ...etc. BUT QUALITY IS THE BEST "something"."
    > This says a lot to me about how Bo sees the MOQ and why he can't see how
    > Pirsig can say that although ideas come before matter, the idea [of
    > evolution] that matter comes first is of higher quality to believe and
    > is therefore how the MOQ levels are ordered.
    > Whilst many different metaphysics may be built around an "ineffable
    > source", as I understand it, without "Quality" or "value" as a central
    > term, Pirsig's particular metaphysics makes no sense. I don't think you
    > can replace the term "Quality" with "language" or "intelligence" or
    > "consciousness" without destroying the whole thesis. To repeat a quote
    > from above, Pirsig starts from the assumption that..
    > "It is this harmony, this quality if you will, that is the sole basis
    > for the only reality we can ever know."
    > Paul
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