Re: MD A bit of reasoning

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sat Oct 16 2004 - 17:15:56 BST

  • Next message: Mark Steven Heyman: "Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?"

    Hi Jim, msh, Mark, All:

    I'm enjoying your posts and learning a lot from them, Jim. Thanks for your
    contributions to the discussions.

    (PH previously in answer to msh's question is there a limit to intellect)

    > >No reason that I can tell. After all, many people believe science is the
    > >pinnacle of human intellect. But science cannot explain why matter
    > >organizes itself, or life reproduces itself, or mind reflects on itself.
    > >But along came someone by the name of Robert M. Pirsig who burst the
    > >limits of science's intellectual horizon and has offered a rational
    > >explanation for these and many other heretofore inscrutable phenomena.

    > I think that's a bit unfair, Platt. Pirsig's explanation only arose
    > when we started to deal with these questions with any chance of
    > answering them in terms of anything other than metaphysical
    > speculation. The problem of dealing with how consciousness is part of the
    > functioning of the brain is far from answered: I can think of few better
    > 'simple' introductions to the quandries of these problems than the highly
    > entertaining Vilayanur Ramachandran
    > (

    Interesting guy, but devoted to a materialistic explanation of
    consciousness from what I've read so far, i.e., mind emerges from physical
    activity of the brain. Others have suggested that, like other body organs,
    the brain mediates with the environment, and in the environment is a
    universal sort of consciousness that the brain taps into to assure the
    survival of its supporting organism. A novel idea, but one that makes a
    certain degree of sense given the evolutionary function of other organs.
    The brain, after all, is just a big bulb of nerve tissue.

    > I think that MoQ can achieve the synthesis sought
    > by the romantics c.1800 between the aesthetic and the analytical without
    > recourse to being 'unscientific'. But then, I think this is what you are
    > saying.

    Precisely. I've always been intrigued by Pirsig's suggestion that above
    intellect is a "code of art." In Lila, 13, he wrote: "Finally there's a
    fourth Dynamic morality which isn't a code. He supposed you could call it
    a "code of Art" or something like that, but art is usually thought of as
    such a frill that that title undercuts its importance. The morality of the
    brujo in Zuni-that was Dynamic morality."

    I suspect that to break its current limit, intellect will push more and
    more to an aesthetic understanding--which is why I believe Pirsig put his
    philosophy in novel form rather than an academic paper, and why I keep
    pushing the notion of Beauty as the ultimate value.

    > But MoQ does place intellect in a hierarchy of endeavour and so imbues it
    > with a responsibility to respect the underlying layers which make it
    > possible. Which gives real meaning to ethical considerations with respect
    > to science.

    Yes. But the MoQ suggests intellect (or more generally, mind) has yet to
    reach its zenith (as noted above). I agree with you that at this point we
    have a lot of static latching to do with the just the intellectual MoQ
    metaphysical structure as described in Lila. To understand evolution as a
    moral process has as yet few adherents. Our work is cut out for us, for


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