Re: MD On Faith

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Fri Oct 29 2004 - 14:48:11 BST

  • Next message: Mark Steven Heyman: "Re: MD Where does quality reside?"

    Hi Steve,

    > > Pirsig describes faith as "a willingness to believe in falsehoods."
    > >
    > > He also says that it's "possible for more than one set of truths to
    > > exist."
    > >
    > > So how does he distinguish a truth from a falsehood?

    > Individuals make this judgment on the basis of Quality. When someone
    > believes something that they think has low intellectual quality it is
    > immoral.

    Yes. In the MOQ, intellectual quality takes moral precedence over other
    forms of belief, such as that rendered by revelation, meditation, and
    contemplation of beauty. The question arises: "What gives intellect this
    exalted position?" The usual answer is its "utility," but we have seen
    that pragmatism isn't always the panacea it's cracked up to be. Pirsig
    admits as much.

    > > If, as he said, one should choose truth on the basis of its quality, like
    > > choosing paintings in a gallery, then truth becomes a matter of personal
    > > belief. And so, logically, do falsehoods.
    > >
    > > Perhaps someone will explain this apparent contradiction. Why is faith in
    > > what's true any different than faith in what's false?.

    > I think Pirsig's definition makes some sense. In discussing religion with
    > a Biblical literalist and after I've pointed out contradictions and other
    > logical impossibilities, the "believer" will often acknowledge the low
    > intellectual value of interpreting the Bible as literally true. When
    > backed against a wall a "believer" will say something like, "it SEEMS like
    > a contradiction, but one just has to have faith." In other words, the
    > "believer" is demonstrating "a willingness to believe in falsehoods" and
    > sees faith as doing just that.
    If "falsehoods" are always going to be determined on the basis of faith in
    intellect (logical empiricism as championed by science), then of course
    it's relatively easy to back a "believer" against a wall. It's a self-
    fulfilling prophecy: "Since your belief violates scientific principles, it
    must be false." But suppose you believe, as many do, that there are other
    means to determining truth from falsehood.?

    > > It's been my contention from the start of this thread that all
    > > metaphysical premises are based on faith,
    > > that faith in God is no
    > > different in principle than faith in the premises of science such as
    > > materialism and reductionism, or Pirsig's faith in "logical consistency,
    > > agreement with experience, and economy of explanation.".

    > Religious faith is different than a mere statement of belief. It is
    > not merely accepting an intellectual postulate. Faith means belief but
    > also trust and loyalty.

    I raised the issue of trust in sources of belief in another post. As for
    loyalty, you will find many scientists are passionately loyal to the
    scientific worldview.

    > Someone with faith in God trusts that the world is unfolding exactly as it
    > should be and it is good. Someone of a particular faith such as
    > Catholicism is loyal to their religious institution. >

    The same can be said of scientists being loyal to their institutions.

    > > If one's belief in a personal God is intellectually
    > > appealing, I see no reason to claim such belief is false given Pirsig's
    > > "paintings you like" standard of truth.

    > I agree, but "believers" often think of "faith" as what it takes to
    > believe that which is not intellectually appealing. That is what
    > Pirsig is calling immoral.

    Yes, I agree. There's no doubt that Pirsig considers those who don't abide
    by scientific principles of inquiry as being immoral dummkopfs. He
    summarily rejects supernatural explanations for how the world works. On
    the other hand, he invokes an unknown "aesthetic continuum" as "real."
    And, he attributes creation of the objective world to a mysterious force
    he calls Dynamic Quality--hardly something verifiable using scientific

    Steve, I think your answers, given the context of the assumptions of the
    MOQ, are correct. My position is that those assumptions leave some things
    about our experience of "reality" still unsettled. . What do you think?


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