Re: MD On Faith

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sat Oct 30 2004 - 17:04:12 BST

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    Hi Steve,

    > Steve:
    > I don't know that the MOQ says intellectual quality takes precedence
    > over revelation, meditation, and contemplation of beauty. It says that
    > intellectual quality takes moral precedence over social quality and
    > biological quality because the intellectual level evolved later not because
    > of utility. Intellectual statements are then judged based on intellectual
    > quality rather than on who said it or what institution supports it. By
    > invoking forms of belief that are supported by revelation, meditation, and
    > contemplation of beauty you are pointing toward experiences that transcend
    > all the static levels and are therefore more moral.

    Yes. That's my point.

    > However, I don't think
    > it makes sense to say that a belief could possibly have such support since
    > all beliefs are intellectual patterns of varying degree of quality. For
    > someone to claim support for a belief from "above" would be to try to to
    > reduce the dynamic to the intellectual level which would be immoral.

    I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here. Cannot one speak of the dynamic
    without being dragged down to the intellectual level? Are you suggesting
    that as soon as you attribute a cause to your belief that you are invoking
    intellectual patterns? Isn't it simply enough to say, "That's what I
    > But I don't even think that revelation, meditation, and contemplation of
    > beauty are generally what people are talking about anyway when they talk
    > about having faith. They usually are supporting a view because God/the
    > Bible says so or because their priest says so. Judging intellectual value
    > based of the social position of the guy who says it (the priest) or the
    > institution that backs it (the Church) over intellectual justification
    > (thinking) is immoral. Saying something is so because God says so is
    > immoral because doing so would be trying to contain a higher level (God) in
    > a lower level (intellect).

    I think there are a lot of "born again" Christians (I'm not one) who would
    argue that they had a direct revelation from God without the intervention
    of the Bible or a priest. Also, there are numerous accounts of people who
    have had near death experiences who afterwards become convinced of God's
    existence. Wasn't in Martin Luther who started the Protestant church by
    rebelling against the notion that the only way to secure God's blessing
    was through the intermediary of a priest? I think perhaps you generalize
    too much about those who claim to have faith in God.
    > People will have differing views of what has intellectual quality
    > because of their different experiences. What I'm talking about is the
    > "believer" who, like me, experiences the low intellectual quality of
    > statements like "the Bible is literally true" and chooses to believe them
    > anyway and calls it "faith."
    Agree. But I think it's too narrow to limit the meaning of "faith" to
    those who in your opinion express low intellectual quality due to belief
    in the Bible or God I think of "faith" in the broader sense of the
    definition supplied by Simon Magson awhile back: "1. Confident belief in
    the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing." In that
    sense, scientists have confident belief in materialism, reductionism, etc.

    > I don't agree that Pirsig necessarily
    > "considers those who don't abide by scientific principles of inquiry as
    > being immoral dummkopfs."
    > What's immoral is to admit that a position is irrational (low
    > intellectual quality), but then to assert it as true anyway (high
    > intellectual quality). It's basically a lie.

    As you know, rationality has it's own problems in establishing "high
    intellectual quality." Not all that's rational is true. It depends on the
    validity of an initial premise which, as I've tried to point out, is often
    based on faith. For example, the supposedly high quality intellectual
    pattern of science that "all is matter and energy" does not itself consist
    of matter nor energy.

    > > He (Pirsig)
    > > summarily rejects supernatural explanations for how the world works.

    > Like Pirsig, I also experience such intellectual patterns as low
    > quality ones. I bet you do, too.

    In most cases, yes. But there are anomalies in my experience that I find
    hard to attribute to natural causes, such as my response the first time I
    heard Rachmaniov's Third Piano Concerto.

    > > 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
    > > methods.

    > Steve:
    > I don't think Pirsig champions scientific methods as the "be all and
    > end all." In fact he spent a lot of ZAMM and Lila criticizing the
    > "view from nowhere" that science presupposes.

    I agree he criticizes science for its reliance on SOM. But his appeal to
    empiricism, logical consistency and economy of explanation are right out
    of science's book of beliefs.

    > It's been a while. It's good to converse with you.

    Likewise. :-)


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