Re: MF Discussion Topic for February 2004

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Sun Feb 15 2004 - 16:41:13 GMT

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    Dear all,

    Until now the February topic first produced a few contributions aimed at
    clarification (Wim 5 Feb 2004 08:19:02 +0100, Bodvar 5 Feb 2004 20:51:45
    +0100, Rick 7 Feb 2004 14:36:33 -0500, Wim 9 Feb 2004 08:16:10 +0100).
    The yes/no question on which we can give our opinions is now:
    'Is what we discuss merely the ideas of Pirsig?' If yes, 'the MoQ' is
    understood to be his ideas which we can only interpret.

    David B. (7 Feb 2004 17:05:02 -0700) seemed to be both struggling how to
    interpret the question (before I simplified it 9 Feb 2004 08:16:10 +0100)
    AND giving as his (provisional?) opinion that including our own ideas under
    'the MoQ' would amount to plagiarizing and distorting Pirsig's MOQ.

    Bodvar (9 Feb 2004 12:33:28 +0100) disagrees with David. When he writes 'we
    all know that it is the Intellect again, and more specific my SOLAQI' I
    doubt whether he is trying to express an opinion on the same subject,
    however. How to understand the intellectual level was NOT the subject I
    intended for this discussion.
    Consequently I find it difficult to distill a clear opinion from Bodvar's
    contribution on the question what is and is not included in 'the MoQ' which
    we are discussing in the MD and MF lists.

    Two further contributions (David M. 9 Feb 2004 19:12:50 -0000 and Bodvar 11
    Feb 2004 22:20:33 +0100) go off-topic: about Bo's
    interpretation/version/school of the/a MoQ.

    Steve's contribution (10 Feb 2004 11:42:36 -0500) contains the opinion that
    'the MoQ' is a pattern of thought that anyone can participate in. He
    attempts to determine the boundaries of 'the MoQ' (which ideas and whose
    ideas are in resp. out) by defining it and asks us to agree on a definition.
    I doubt whether that would really solve the question of what we should and
    should not discuss on these lists, as Steve also writes: 'Without these
    understandings, someone could perhaps be talking about "an MOQ" but not "the
    MOQ" in my opinion.' Can/should we discuss 'a MoQ' on these lists that does
    not fit an agreed definition of 'the MoQ'?
    With 'the MoQ' in the topic for this month I meant 'that which we allow each
    other to discuss here', in other words: 'that which the 'M' in 'MD' and 'MF'
    refers to.

    Do we allow each other to discuss only the ideas of Pirsig as expressed in
    'Zen ...', 'Lila', his 'SODV'-paper, his annotations in 'Lila's Child' and
    in several letters to contributors to MD and MF?
    Do we allow each other to discuss only
    - what he (really) meant in those texts?
    - how to apply these ideas to situations he didn't describe?
    - how to extend these ideas 'in his spirit' to make them applicable more
    - how to correct or 'interpret away' apparent inconsistencies between what
    he wrote in one spot and what he wrote elsewhere?
    - our own ideas (in addition to his) as long as they are clearly inspired by
    his ideas?
    - our own ideas (in addition to his) as long as they fit one or more of his
    descriptions/definitions of 'the MoQ'?
    Or do we allow each other to discuss also
    - our own ideas (and/or those of other authors) that contain at least some
    key element of his ideas (e.g. giving 'Quality' a key role or criticising
    subject/object-distinctions as basic to 'Reality'), even if we prefer to
    refrain from using other key elements of his ideas (e.g. that they
    constitute an alternative 'metaphysics')?
    - our own ideas (and/or those of other authors) that differ significantly
    from his ideas if comparison might benefit the development of our ideas or
    of 'the MoQ'?

    I have the impression that we HAVE -at least in the 2,5 years in which I am
    contributing now- allowed each other to discuss much more than the ideas of
    Pirsig (up to and including the ideas of other authors, like Rorty, who do
    not see much value in Pirsig's ideas). We have tried to exclude from the
    discussion uncivil discussing behavior (name-calling and other ad hominem
    arguments, arrogance, pretentions to know better than others what Pirsig
    meant etc.) rather than 'un-MoQish' ideas. This has contributed to a further
    development of 'the MoQ' from what it was in 'Zen ...' and 'Lila' (as Pirsig
    recognizes in 'Lila's Child' and in his letters). What 'the MoQ' is
    understood to be is simply what we, while discussing it, understand it to
    be. That understanding is heavily influenced by Pirsig's ideas, because and
    as long as we refer to his texts (and as long as knowledge of these texts is
    a prerequisite for participation). That will only change dramatically when
    someone else publishes another book about the MoQ (which is more than
    interpretation of Pirsig's texts and our discussion about them). With the
    growing volume of what we write without Pirsig's direct sanction especially
    the boundaries of 'the MoQ' are more and more influenced by us and not by
    Pirsig any more. (Even though the core of 'the MoQ' may still be ideas that
    should be taken from his writings.)
    And this practice is good, is/has/'is had by' Quality (in my experience). It
    is the intellectual pattern of value that can be addressed as 'MoQ'. It is a
    set of symbols that stand for other experience (Pirsig's definition of the
    intellectual level) and it is maintained by people (us) copying ideas (and
    not allowing each other to copy other ideas) that underpin/explain/maintain
    their understanding of 'Reality'.

    With friendly greetings,


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