Re: MD A bit of reasoning

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Fri Oct 08 2004 - 19:34:25 BST

  • Next message: Mark Steven Heyman: "RE: MD On Faith"

    On Oct 7, 2004, at 1:49 PM, Scott Roberts wrote:

    > Mel,
    > [Scott prev:]> > Yes. The trouble is that the word 'Quality' is
    > insufficient unless it is
    >>> buttressed with a word like 'Intellect', where Peirce's semiotic
    >>> triads
    >>> come more obviously into play. There is no value unless there are
    >>> particulars AND universals AND interpretants, where each one exists
    >>> only
    >> in
    >>> relation to the other two. If you've got relationships or forms, and
    >> you've
    >>> got value, then you've got intellect. But see below about the word
    >>> 'intellect'.
    >> mel:
    >> This is not about Peirce or his conceptions.
    >> It is about what comes before...
    > [Scott:] If you are referring to so-called immediate/pure experience,
    > it is
    > about that. If I say "Wow! That sunset is beautiful", while it is true
    > that
    > the beauty occurred at the "wow" moment, and I am only thinking of that
    > beauty in the "That sunset is beautiful" moment, that doesn't mean
    > there
    > was no Peircean triad in the "wow" moment. There was. There had to be
    > me
    > and the sunset, and the general system of colors, shapes, and so
    > forth, for
    > that "wow" moment to occur. If any one were missing, there would be no
    > value.

    Hi Scott,

    I don't know anything about Peircean triads, but I can tell that you
    are disagreeing with the most fundamental postulate of the MOQ. When
    Pirsig was faced with the dilemma "is the quality in the subject or the
    object" he came up with a rather unique solution upon which he built an
    entire metaphysics. This discussion group is about seeing where making
    Pirsig's "Copernican inversion" takes us. If you don't want to play,
    fine. In the MOQ, all your talk about universals and particulars may
    constitute high quality ideas. They just have nothing to do with the
    MOQ. It is pointless to argue about whether Quality really does
    precede subjects and objects. It is an intellectual postulate that you
    either find useful or not. If you don't and if you aren't interested
    in seeing where making that assumption can take us, then you're in the
    wrong place. I'm not suggesting that you leave, only that what you are
    arguing may be irrelavent to a discussion group concerned with the MOQ.


    I love this bit and think it's relevent to some of the discussions
    going on here recently on what is meant by intellect, the MOQ view of
    scientific materialism, religion, and the Quality postulate:

    "The Metaphysics of Quality subscribes to what is called empiricism. It

    claims that all legitimate human knowledge arises from the senses or by

    thinking about what the senses provide. Most empiricists deny the

    of any knowledge gained through imagination, authority, tradition, or

    purely theoretical reasoning. They regard fields such as art, morality,

    religion, and metaphysics as unverifiable. The Metaphysics of Quality

    varies from this by saying that the values of art and morality and even

    religious mysticism are verifiable, and that in the past they have been

    excluded for metaphysical reasons, not empirical reasons. They have been

    excluded because of the metaphysical assumption that all the universe is

    composed of subjects and objects and anything that can't be classified
    as a

    subject or an object isn't real. There is no empirical evidence for this

    assumption at all. It is just an assumption.

    It is an assumption that flies outrageously in the face of common

    experience. The low value that can be derived from sitting on a hot

    is obviously an experience even though it is not an object and even

    it is not subjective. The low value comes first, then the subjective

    thoughts that include such things as stove and heat and pain come

    The value is the reality that brings the thoughts to mind.

    There's a principle in physics that if a thing can't be distinguished

    anything else it doesn't exist. To this the Metaphysics of Quality adds

    second principle: if a thing has no value it isn't distinguished from

    anything else. Then, putting the two together, a thing that has no value

    does not exist. The thing has not created the value. The value has

    created the thing. When it is seen that value is the front edge of

    experience, there is no problem for empiricists here. It simply restates

    the empiricists' belief that experience is the starting point of all

    reality. The only problem is for a subject-object metaphysics that calls

    itself empiricism.

    This may sound as though a purpose of the Metaphysics of Quality is to

    trash all subject-object thought but that's not true. Unlike

    subject-object metaphysics the Metaphysics of Quality does not insist
    on a

    single exclusive truth. If subjects and objects are held to be the

    ultimate reality then we're permitted only one construction of

    which corresponds to the "objective" world-and all other constructions

    unreal. But if Quality or excellence is seen as the ultimate reality

    it becomes possible for more than one set of truths to exist. Then one

    doesn't seek the absolute "Truth." One seeks instead the highest quality

    intellectual explanation of things with the knowledge that if the past

    any guide to the future this explanation must be taken provisionally; as

    useful until something better comes along. One can then examine

    intellectual realities the same way he examines paintings in an art

    gallery, not with an effort to find out which one is the "real"

    but simply to enjoy and keep those that are of value. There are many

    of intellectual reality in existence and we can perceive some to have

    quality than others, but that we do so is, in part, the result of our

    history and current patterns of values.

    Or, using another analogy, saying that a Metaphysics of Quality is false

    and a subject-object metaphysics is true is like saying that rectangular

    coordinates are true and polar coordinates are false. A map with the

    Pole at the center is confusing at first, but it's every bit as correct

    a Mercator map. In the Arctic it's the only map to have. Both are simply

    intellectual patterns for interpreting reality and one can only say
    that in

    some circumstances rectangular coordinates provide a better, simpler


    The Metaphysics of Quality provides a better set of coordinates with

    to interpret the world than does subject-object metaphysics because it

    more inclusive. It explains more of the world and it explains it

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