Re: MF Define the intellectual level

From: Johannes Volmert (
Date: Fri Jun 16 2000 - 21:20:24 BST

David Buchanan wrote:
> Hi Focusers: I wish we could get Pirsig himselff to comment on this issue,
> and especially the quote from McWatt. I think he and his MOQ are injured
> every time someone posts it. You can read and read and re-read the quote
> until the end of time if you wish, but it will always be illogical and
> self-contradictory. There has to be a mistake. The last line contradicts
> everything else that comes before it AND please notice how that last line
> doesn't have the same right-hand margin as the rest of it. Surely this
> margin shift indicates some kind of add-on or tampering precisely where it
> goes bad and contradicts itself. I'm not suggestion any intentional
> deception, but it just can't be right because it Contradicts itself and it
> contradicts what he says in Lila. Please look at the quote to see what I
> mean and then I say more below that...
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: 3rdWavedave []
> > Sent: Monday, June 12, 2000 2:17 PM
> > To:
> > Subject: Re: MF Define the intellectual level
> >
> >
> > > >"The section in chapter 3 (in ZMM) about gravity points out
> > > >that the body of knowledge we call science is in fact
> > > >subjective. The law of gravity exists only in the minds of
> > > >modern-day people, who can change this law any time new
> > > >information shows that a higher quality law of gravity can
> > > >be constructed.....both the "law of gravity" and "gravity" are
> > > >intellectual static patterns, but gravity (when you take
> > > >the quotation marks off) is said, in a very high quality
> > > >interpretation of experience, to be an external reality."
> >
> > > >Among these patterns is the intellectual pattern that says
> > > >"there is an external world of things out there which are
> > > >independent of intellectual patterns".
> >
> > > >That is one of the highest quality intellectual patterns
> > > >there is. And in this highest quality intellectual
> > > >pattern, external objects appear historically before
> > > >intellectual patterns...But this highest quality intellectual pattern
> > > >itself comes before the external world, not after, as is commonly presumed by the
> > > >materialists..
> > > >(Correspondence from Pirsig to McWatt)
> >
> [David Buchanan] See how everything after "..But this highest
> quality" sticks out much further to the right? See how the margins don't
> match? If we simply excluded that line Pirsig would be perfectly consistent
> with the MOQ and with the context of the letter would NOT contradict itself.


Hello David, Bo, 3rdWavedave and fellow Foci,

it is the first time for me to hear about this corresponence and after I spend
hours to think about it I agree with David B., that this last sentence somehow
does not fit into the context of the above. But I think it's rather more a
'language-trap', than a breaking of logics of the MoQ. When using language to
express intellectual patterns about intellectual patterns, which belongs to the
highest level, the intellectual level of which we - human beings- are the
carriers (I believe) we should be aware of two problems. One problem is,
assumingly the bigger one, that all of us are educated and grown up in a more or
less SOM-thinking tradition, thus having difficulties to use and apply our
(SOM-)language - that is reading and writing - on the investigation of
MoQ-concepts. In writing and thinking about MoQ we often get into a state of
instability and our thoughts and words tend to switch unconciously between
SOM-thinking and MOQ-thinking. The second problem is IMHO, that the nearer the
subject of observation is to the observer - i.e. a human being as the carrier of
the intellectual level thinking about and analysing his own thoughts or those of
other human beings - , the more difficult it is to gain reliable conception and
perception. It may sound as if I would like to drop the subject for this reason,
but that is not at all my intention, it's the other way round. I believe it
helps us avoiding, on the one hand to fall back in SOM-language-use, and on the
other hand to spend more effort in defining and distinguishing the words we use.
Now enough of introduction, here is my suggestion:

There is an amount of intellectual patterns, in other words products of human
mind and therefore to be assigned to the intellectual level, that represent a
more or less sufficient (or may I say 'good' ;-)) image or model in our minds
(and brains) of a value-dependency (causality), concerning subjects of our
intellectual processing. In effort to create those intellectual patterns, man
has developed, based on his cognitive abilities (intelligence, senses, etc...),
a set of tools relating to the biological side of human mind like software to
hardware. And yet those intellectual patterns remain only images of the sensed
values/value-complex of the external world. Moreover the perception of the
external world and variant legitimacies having been deduced from it, can only
take place in a selective and judging way due to the specific judging condition
of human mind.
So both, the law of gravity in it's mathematical-physical expression as well as
the verbal/non-scientific concept of gravity, are only images/models of the
external reality and in any case of static nature (SQ). If new information or
insights are gained (for example the 'theory of relativity'), the present
scientific expression of the named subject has to be adapted and expanded in
order to intgrate this new information. The external reality remains the same
though; it just is! It doesn't care about, if we have adequate models and
concepts about it, or not.
This seen in front of the expanded background of MoQ, one can make out a hirachy
of more and of less important intellectual patterns. Amongst these is the
insight/understanding (being a intellectual pattern itself), that there is an
external world of things being independent of all kind of intellectual patterns,
which has to be morally considered of higher value, than the law of gravity for

> > > >But this highest quality intellectual pattern
> > > >itself comes before the external world, not after, as is commonly presumed by the
> > > >materialists..

Although we could assume on the basis of MoQ, that this highest-value
intellectual pattern has emerged after the high-value intellectual patterns
concerning the assumption, that there is more quality, the nearer (along the
time-axis) to us (today) it had emerged and therefore the creation of
abstractions and ideas (Plato)as a result of the perception of the external
objects had taken place in earlier times, because the latter are the simplier
abstractions, it might be just the other way round with the named intellectual
pattern (external world independent on the existence of intellectual patterns).
MoQ tells us, that everything (including man) is a result of the creative and
shaping force of Quality,also the intellectual patterns that builds our
intellect. The Metapysics of Quality contains the same number of elements as the
Subject-Object-Metapysics and what Pirsig wants us to do dismantle the SOM and
to reassemble it in a different way, in the MoQ-way; the MoQ is just a new
framework for the same elements (therefore I don't consider it to be a new
level, although this 'reframing' could lead us to a new level). When starting
this reassembling in order to build up a new system of intellectual patterns,
the biggest system of intellectual pattern there could be, the MoQ, it is
necessary to define a starting point, the place to hit the 'nail' in at least.
This primary 'nail' is the intellectual pattern, that says:

> 'There is an external world of things out there which are independent of intellectual patterns'

In that sense it fits into the Quality-idea of the MoQ. As long as I'm aware of
the fact, that the external world doesn't care about me as a human being, wether
my intellectual patterns are good or worse, I will never loose the Quality
track, because I do know that not only I have to consider my concepts as
provisory but also that my understanding of the world could not be absolute nor
'objective'. It is a result of a most 'subjective' quality-event between man and
DQ and it could be different, if my capabilities (inorganic, biological, social,
cultural (intellectual)) would have been different from the start. And it's
necessary to know, that I (a human being) have to adjust now and then my
intellectual patterns to new insights and information and even have to find new
frameworks sometimes to be able to follow the quality-track.

A materialist would say: 'The world outside follows the laws of nature , and
because I am an independent and objective observer (not being influenced by it)
the model of the external world in my mind equals the world itself. Once I know
all the laws of nature, I'm able to understand the whole world outside'
He is not aware of the fact, that he himself is part of this world too,
dependent on social, cultural,... values as well and therefore can never be
neutral. And the external world sends him sensations, of which he subjectively
choses a few, believing that's all.

With full intention I did not comment on this:

> > > >And in this highest quality intellectual
> > > >pattern, external objects appear historically before
> > > >intellectual patterns.

What do you think about this:

In the development of western philosophy (SOM), the basic starting point is man
(the subject) assumed to be the fix center of observation, who is percepting the
external world of things and all other intellectual patterns coming afterwards.
But whatever is the exact meaning of it, it doesn't seem to stand in
contradiction to what I've said above.

Do you think it is correct to see 'comes before' in terms of hirarchy, rather
than in terms of history?

I hope this hasn't been to boring or confusing, and after all I feel, it is
still not a satisfying answer to David's question.

With best wishes to all,

JoVo -

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