Date: Mon Apr 19 2004 - 03:53:20 BST
The question before us is: "Does Pirsig's work help us sort out the
distinctions between metaphysics and the mystical reality?"
As the answer to this question entirely depends upon how we understand
Pirsig's metaphysics - even the most basic terms like 'Static Quality' and 'Dynamic
Quality' are relevant - I can't see how we can answer the question without
considering these elements.
Mark 19-4-04: There is far more agreement about what these terms mean than
disagreement about what these terms mean. Disagreement is usually due to
misunderstanding, and in this case, the misunderstanding is probably yours Sam.
To say, 'the most basic terms' is tautological. Anything above basic is not
That basic terms are relevant to any metaphysics is stating what we already
I find this patronising, but i am not offended, because experience tells me
this is the way you talk to people in the MD and MF.
One of the MoQ terms, DQ, is undefined. Therefore, it may only be indicated
by the other term, SQ.
Now, given the way the discussion between myself and Mark went in MD, I'm
reluctant to get into another one here. But I think the following paragraph is
>>>> Mark 12-4-04: The Metaphysics of Quality talks about Quality by using two
>>>> terms: Dynamic Quality and Static Quality. You may think of this as a
>>>> in the following way:
>>>> 1. Quality. Cannot be discussed and fatal to indicate. Final. This is the
>>>> Plotinian and unnamed Tao way of going about it. Very hard to do,
>>>> people like yourself who enjoy analysis. The MoQ does not talk about
>>>> 2. DQ. Now we have left off not talking about that which we cannot talk
>>>> and begun talking. Here, DQ is the unconceptualised, as you appear to
>>>> 3. SQ. Fill your boots in the talking dept.
>>>> From the above you should not even be using Quality at all. But you do,
>>>> that is unfortunate.
>>>> Mark 12-4-04: You will notice that the MoQ uses two terms: DQ and SQ.
>>>> Everything you need to say may be said using these two terms. The term
Quality is not
>>>> used in the MoQ.
At one and the same time Mark claims that "The Metaphysics of Quality talks
about Quality by using two terms: Dynamic Quality and Static Quality" and also
"The MoQ does not talk about Quality"; "The term Quality is not used in the
This seems a contradiction to me. But perhaps I'm just incompetent.
Mark 19-4-04: It is a contradiction. Plotinus does the same thing; he insists
the One cannot be named, but then contradictorily drops this term into his
It is very difficult to share a culture in which everyone who agrees the One
cannot be named actually practices not naming the One.
'Quality' disrupts this understanding also, but it has one supreme advantage:
Everyone agrees that Quality exists, but no one can define it.
A Metaphysics deals with definitions, so the MoQ must seek to divide 'that
which everyone agrees upon but cannot define.' It does this by creating two
aspects: DQ and SQ.
Sam comes along and begins asking for a definition of 'that which everyone
agrees upon but cannot define' and then becomes bemused when no one offers a
But I'd be interested in Mark's comment on the quotation that Rick helpfully
provided a while back, from Ant McWatt's thesis:
McWATT (from his textbook 2:3:5)
"Firstly, the MOQ centres round the term 'Quality' (with a capital 'Q) which
interchangeably with 'Value'. 'Quality' is used to denote reality (by which
Pirsig means the
totality of what exists)
Mark 17-4-04: Reality is the One in Plotinus and Quality in Pirsig - the
totality of what exists.
McWATT (from his textbook 2:3:5) cont:
in addition to its traditional context (i.e. as a synonym for excellence)."
Mark 17-4-04: Tradition is inherited patterns of thought, behaviour,
practice, etc. - in our culture, an inherited pattern of thought, behaviour, practice,
etc. regarding excellence is termed Quality. Thus, Pirsig identifies in
shared patterns of thought, behaviour, practice, etc. common experience between
excellence and The One.
I had a similar notion when i heard John MacEnroe use the idiom, 'sweet
spot.' Idioms are restricted, of course, but this one is used quite allot in many
disparate circumstances: circumstances in which processes become excellence.
The link between excellence and the One is important in ZMM and the MoQ.
To say "The term Quality is not used in the MoQ" would seem to contradict
Ant's assessment. But then, perhaps Ant doesn't understand the MoQ either.
Mark 17-4-04: I would suggest that if anyone is in error here it is me. I
don't have a hot line to Robert Pirsig or Anthony McWatt, so i cannot verify
every little thing i say before i say it with either of these gentleman?
To get to the point, and try and get things going again. This contradiction
seems to express
perfectly what I object to about Pirsig's conception of mysticism, viz that
he DOES blur the
distinction between Quality and Dynamic Quality, and this undermines his
analysis of mysticism.
Mark 17-4-04: Mysticism cannot be analysed. No one, not even you, can
distinguish two aspects of that which is undifferentiated.
If The One should not be named, it doesn't really matter what we 'don't' call
it does is Sam?
We may, 'not call' it anything we wish.
This is not an easy thing to do in any culture, never mind our culture - it's
The word Quality has pragmatic use. No one, not even Sam Norton, can define
it, yet tradition teaches us many people experience it, especially in
Through excellence, we gain insight into Mysticism.
The analytical mind is not happy to leave things here, it wants more. It gets
more in Metaphysical speculation. But that requires divisions and so on...
But I think that we need to clear a lot of ground before we can have an
intelligent discussion on that.
Mark 17-4-04: I rather feel there has already been a great deal of
intelligent discussion, resulting in a great deal of agreement. Your insistence on
privileging what does or does not; what has and what has not; what can or cannot
constituted intelligent discussion is, i feel, rather arrogant.
Which is why we need to do this conceptual work first.
Mark 17-4-04: The conceptual framework has been delineated in this very MF
topic. In fact, you have yet to respond to its delineation with regard to Value
Metaphysics and Process Ontology? Buddhism is analysed and taught in Western
Universities using a comparison between Substance Ontology and Process
Ontology, so there is nothing unusual or problematic in this. And yet, you completely
ignore this conceptual framework when presented with it.
IS it the case that Quality is a synonym for reality, and that the
dynamic/static division is a
metaphysical 'slicing' of that reality conceptually on a par with
'subject/object'? (Some being worse than others)
Mark 17-4-04: Of course Quality is a synonym for reality. In fact, you have
included a quote from Anthony McWatt's Text book saying this.
Of course the DQ-SQ division is a conceptual differentiation. It is a
superior differentiation to the R/C or SOM differentiation's. Have you actually read
Lila Sam? Believe it or not, although the rules of the MF insist that you
should have done so before contributing to it, i am seriously beginning to wonder
whether in fact you have broken the MF rules?
IS it the case that Quality is a nonsense term (ie something about which we
cannot talk sense) that can be bracketed out from discussions, as Mark seems to
argue for, so that Dynamic Quality is reality (the mystical reality) and
Static Quality is inferior?
Mark 17-4-04: It is precisely to block people who WOULD insist that 'The One'
is a term which means a pile of nonsense that Pirsig chose the word Quality
to refer to reality. This is especially true of scientists and those who insist
that if it cannot be analysed it must be a pile of nonsense.
But Quality, while Universally experienced, does not say an awful lot does
it? Hence, the Metaphysical speculation.
The degree to which the MoQ help us sort out the distinctions between
metaphysics and the mystical reality may not be definitive, but it is of high
It seems to me that unless we can gain clarity on this conceptual point, all
the other interesting conversations that we might have on this topic are
Mark 17-4-04: Again, you wish to privilege what is or is not; what has been
and what has not been; what can or what cannot be interesting.
And if people don't want to debate this point, lets move on to a new topic.
Mark 17-4-04: I don't find anything to discuss in what you say in this post
Sam which has not already been referred to in previous posts. I wish to draw
your attention to the disregard you have shown for previous postings as it is
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