RE: MD Where am I?

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Tue Oct 05 2004 - 07:29:44 BST

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    > [Scott prev:]
    > The MOQ says that I am a set of inorganic, biological, social, and
    > intellectual SQ, capable of responding to DQ. I disagree with this
    > definition, preferring to think of myself as a locus of DQ/SQ interaction.
    > [Simon asked:]
    > What's the difference?
    > [Scott answered:]
    > The difference is that I consider the Dynamic to be a part of me, and not
    > external to me.
    > dmb says:
    > I think this short exchange reveals a misconception on Scott's part. The
    > does NOT assert that DQ is "external to me". The MOQ asserts a concept of
    > self that does not allow such a thing to be possible. It is intended to
    > REPLACE the concept of an isolated self opposed to an external world. The
    > MOQ says there is no self apart from the patterns. You ARE the patterns.
    > ultimately these patterns are not seperate from the dynamic reality from
    > which they emerge. The mystical reality is undivided, but metaphysics
    > divides it anyway.

    [Scott:] Then why does he say the self is a set of patterns capable of
    *responding* to DQ? Saying that divides DQ from SQ unnecessarily. (And
    'external' does not imply 'external world'. In theism, for example, God is
    considered external to the self and the world.) Why does he NOT say that
    the self is where SQ and DQ meet, for example.

    Ultimately, yes, there is no separation, which makes it odd that Pirsig
    makes out that the goal of Zen is to go beyond all SQ.

    > [Simon said:]
    > Both 'me' and 'other than me' are static differentiations therefore
    > can apply to DQ. The MOQ is not dualistic in this sense i.e., the SOM
    > sense.
    > [Scott replied:]
    > The error of the MOQ (and of SOM, and all nominalisms) is to see
    > differentiation (categorizing, conceptualizing, etc.) as something that
    > intellectual humans do, and as being a static covering up of something
    > and pure and dynamic. Instead, one should, in my view, see differentiation
    > as dynamic and creative. Of course, one should not become attached to any
    > one pattern of differentiation.
    > dmb:
    > I'm trying hard to be polite here, but I have to say that this repeated
    > point, that intellect (categorizing, conceptualizing, etc.) goes on in the
    > organic and inorganic world is very bad idea. Frankly, I'm tempted to say
    > something insulting about your intelligence. Instead, I'll simply ask WHAT
    > IN THE WORLD DO YOU MEAN? You can't be saying that atoms and worms are
    > capable of skillfully manipulating abstract symbols, can you? And why
    > it be a problem to admit that such things are responding to reality in a
    > much more primitive and limited way? Why do rocks have to have
    > It seems very clear to me that the pattern of preferences that holds a
    > together has nothing to do with abstract symbols. Within the terms of the
    > MOQ, its just plain wrong and in the larger context of the forum, its just
    > too confusing to describe the first three levels in terms of intellect.

    Why bother to explain to you what I mean if you pay no attention to it? I
    said in an earlier post:

    "Rocks, considered by themselves, are not intellectuals. But a rock is a
    particular. It points to SQ, the laws of nature, including the laws of
    rockhood, which are universals, which exist as universals whether or not we
    know what they are. If they were not universals, there could be no Quality
    evolution, only mindless, mechanical evolution."

    Since you responded to it, I know you read it, but here you are asking "You
    can't be saying that atoms and worms are
     capable of skillfully manipulating abstract symbols, can you?". It is not
    atoms or worms that are manipulating symbols. Something Else is (which
    might be called DQ, or Dynamic Intellect), and in so doing is able to come
    up with new patterns. The individual atom or worm is a particular that
    symbolizes the universal (the rules of behavior that they follow). I said
    it before, rocks do not have intellect. They manifest intellect, much as a
    word, which considered as ink on paper is meaningless, but as read is
    meaningful. We normally don't know how to read rocks, though science
    provides a sort of substitute. Barfield calls the ability to read rocks
    "final participation". It's where we are headed.

    > As for the idea that static patterns cover up, this is just another way of
    > saying that the world is an illusion. Its not to be taken literally. Its
    > idea about the ineffable. Its a way of distinquishing the world of
    > experience from the world as it is revealed in different states of
    > consciousness. The difference is stark. A mystical experience is often a
    > life-altering, mind-blowing, and deeply profound experience. I suspect
    > if you'd ever had one you'd be far less interesting in undermining the
    > distinction between that kind of knowledge and intellectual knowledge.

    [Scott:] I've consistently said that there is a distinction. But what I
    have said seems to not matter.

    > Scott sad:
    > Or as Nishida Kitaro might put it: the self exists by negating itself, and
    > negates itself by affirming itself. This is an example of his logic of
    > contradictory identity. If one ignores it, for example, by just rejecting
    > the concept of self, one falls into nihilism, and not the Buddhist "Middle
    > Way". The Middle Way is about keeping one's thinking in an undecidable
    > state, neither rejecting nor affirming the self.
    > dmb sez:
    > Hmmm. As you've presented it here, I'm having trouble seeing the
    > between the "logic of contradictory identity" and plain old equivication.

    [Scott:] It cannot be understood without actually trying to think it.
    Here's what I said on it before (in a post to you 9/12):

    "...any examination of mental activity will bottom out in an irreducible
    contradictory identity (or polarity), which is that two concepts are
    needed, which define each other at the same time that they contradict each
    other. For example, continuity and change, or universal and particular.
    There is also a third word required, for example, awareness, consciousness,
    value, or intellect, that might be said to be "in-between" the other two
    concepts, and might be said to be produced by their interaction, or might
    be said to produce the two. Or one might say that all three exist as a
    triunity. This three-way business is irreducible, hence I assume it is
    always present in everything. Our intellect, and our language, shows this
    best. Hence, I say that Intellect and Quality are two names for the same
    > [Scott:] I am aware that Pirsig considers the MOQ to be, as he puts it,
    > anti-theistic, not just atheistic. Of course he is referring to theism as
    > belief in a personal God, and there is none of that in the MOQ. However,
    > unless mysteries like "where does intellect come from" get better answers
    > than "DQ created it", the MOQ verges on the theistic.
    > dmb says:
    > Well, the MOQ's explantions might be a mystery to you, but I fail to see
    > theism or faith follows from that. The MOQ is not a creation myth, its a
    > evolutionary metaphysical explanation and its assertions are based on
    > empiricism.

    [Scott:] Are they? How does one empirically justify the statement that "DQ
    is the leading edge of experience"? My senses do not inform me of any
    leading edge, much less that it is appropriate to call it DQ. But that's a
    whole other topic, which I address a bit in another response.

    [DMB:]> Pirsig paints a picture of evolution as a process of ever
    > expanding levels of value, increasingly complex patterns of preferences.
    > These patterns do not exist IN the world so much as they ARE the world.
    > in within this evolutionary unfolding, one level gives birth to the next
    > that intellect is the level that transcends the social level, is born of
    > social level of values. I do not find this mysterious in the least.

    [Scott:] Can you tell me how it is done? That is, how did the social level
    give birth to the intellectual? Without an account, there is a mystery.

    [DMB:] > As I
    > understand it, nothing in the social sciences or biological sciences
    > contradict this interpretation. And as a student of intellectual history,
    > the idea that intellect only arrived on the scene seems not only right,
    > absolutely brilliant in terms of explanatory power. The tricky part is
    > we turn back to the undivided reality. The tricky part is when we turn
    > to the notion that the world is an illusion. And again, we ought not take
    > this too literally, we ought not take this to mean that the world is just
    > meaningless hallucination. Remember that immediate reality is undivided
    > that the DQ/sq split is one of those necessary illusions, one of the
    > divisions that is inherent to thought and language itself. I think the
    > paradoxical meaning of Sri Ramana Maharshi's pithy summary expresses what
    > Pirsig is doing with the DQ/sq split....

    Again, what senses inform us that immediate reality is undivided? I sense
    things and events, not an immediate reality. This is another whole other

    - Scott

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