Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Tue Dec 07 2004 - 22:19:25 GMT

  • Next message: Ian Glendinning: "Re: Ham; Re: MD Is Morality Relative?"

    Hi Steve,

    > > Well, the scale of Quality from low to high is an absolute although where
    > > to place a particular idea or behavior on that scale is a matter of
    > > personal preference guided by Pirsig's hierarchy.

    > But there isn't a single scale of values. For example, biologically she has
    > quality, socially she doesn't. Context is important in the MOQ.

    Yes, but it's one scale, from low to high.

    > We could
    > find other scales besides inorganic, biological, social, and intellectual,
    > as well since Pirsig could think of many ways to divide Quality.)

    Yes, but he chose the signal scale of Quality.
    > Also, I
    > don't see these scales as one-dimensional. We still don't have a definition
    > of Quality that allows us to rank everything in the universe.

    Pirsig says the divisions of his Quality scale into inorganic, biological,
    social and intellectual leaves nothing out, except DQ. But, we may be
    talking past each other, each thinking and using the concept "scale"

    > > What I find interesting
    > > is your implication that belief in God can support an intellectual
    > > pattern
    > > just as belief in Quality supports the pattern of the MOQ.
    > Postulating an external judge of right and wrong supports intellectual
    > patterns such as "this or that is wrong because it says so in the Bible."
    > (I consider this an intellectual pattern since it involves reasoning even
    > though I think it is rather low quality reasoning.) Beliefs of all kinds
    > support reasoning since reasoning takes beliefs and creates new beliefs
    > based on them. Many of these sorts of intellectual patterns are just
    > intellectual support of social authority, but I think there is high quality
    > reasoning based on a belief in God as well.

    If you are saying that all reasoning is supported by faith (belief) I
    agree. The MOQ is based on faith that the best first cut of experience
    isn't subject/object but static/dynamic.

    > Belief in Quality has the virtue of being undeniable, as you've often
    > pointed out.

    Yes. The definition of an axiom is a statement that must be used in the
    attempt to deny it. That's why "truth exists" is an axiom.

    > > This takes us back to my original question, "Until the MOQ is widely
    > > known and believed, what is the proper source of morality for a nation?"

    > I'm not sure where your question is coming from. Are you questioning
    > whether there should be a wall of separation between church and state? I
    > don't think I understand the question, but I'll give it a go.

    My question "came from" the election results that seemed to be at least
    partly based on a clash of social values, the conservative red states vs.
    the liberal blue states, a religious basis for morality vs.secular
    humanism. Pirsig sees the clash as a struggle between value levels:

    > "That's what this whole
    > century's been about, this struggle between intellectual and social
    > patterns. That's the theme song of the twentieth century. Is society
    > going to dominate intellect or is intellect going to dominate
    > society? And
    > if society wins, what's going to be left of intellect? And if intellect
    > wins what's going to be left of society? That was the thing that this
    > evolutionary morality brought out clearer than anything else.

    So there's an immediate problem that if we wait until the MOQ is widely
    known and accepted it may be too late. As Pirsig said, "This has been a
    century of fantastic intellectual growth and fantastic social destruction.
    The only question is how long this process can keep on."

    >As I see it
    > there are two general bases for morality: reason and tradition.
    > The source of morality for this and every nation is a blend of the
    > two. "The theme song of the twentieth century" (the battle between the
    > intellectual and social codes) plays on. I don't know what the source
    > *should* be, but I think I've described what it is. To me it sounds like
    > you are asking which direction rocks should fall when you drop them. The
    > source of morality doesn't sound like something anyone gets to choose.

    You may be right, but since this group is into inquiring about morality, I
    thought if anyone had a way to bring the clashing parties together he
    might be found here. You may have suggested a basis for compromise by
    your statement above:

    "Beliefs of all kinds support reasoning since reasoning takes beliefs and
    creates new beliefs based on them. Many of these sorts of intellectual
    patterns are just intellectual support of social authority, but I think
    there is high quality reasoning based on a belief in God as well."
    Using intellect to choose (judge) the best of historical (traditional)
    moral teachings, religious and otherwise, as the basis for a interim
    social moral code could well appeal to both sides, at least those who are
    truly interested in bridging the divide. For example, my hard-nosed, no-
    nonsense intellect tells me it would be a grievous error to remove from a
    vital, free society the idea that a Creator endows certain inalienable
    rights on every person -- like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
    (to coin a phrase). Otherwise, those desirable traits of a free society
    are bestowed by other men (namely, your friendly government), and as we
    all know, what men giveth they can taketh away.

    Anyway, I'll be most interested in what you and others think.


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