Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

Date: Fri Dec 10 2004 - 08:24:26 GMT

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    Dear Platt --

    I want to be sure we understand each other before filing for a divorce.

    Chin pointed out that I had formed a premature conclusion based on only part
    of his last message to me, and it was the part about life having no meaning.
    (In the full text, he was separating Quality workmanship -- I think -- from
    simply going through the practice of a task. Anything we're doing, my
    mother used to tell me, is worth doing well; so I guess
    when we do something well we find Quality -- but do we also find Meaning?
    To me, these values are not interchangeable, and I can't equate doing a
    quality job with finding meaning in life.)

    Anyway, to our recent exchange:

    I said,
    > > It seems to me that your equation effectively negates
    > > everything that's new and significant about the MOQ. We might just as
    > > not have a philosophy at all. It's just so much artful poetry about
    > > existence, with no implicit meaning for mankind.

    You replied,
    > If you don't think existence (reality) to be immanently and
    > transcendentally moral, then I guess it has no meaning for you. As you
    > say, if that's what you think, "fine and dandy."

    Certainly existence is immanent -- it is our life on this planet. But I
    don't know what it means for existence or reality to be "transcendentally
    moral". Since the MoQ extends the concept of morality to material
    existence, perhaps there's a special meaning here that I can't fathom. In
    my mind it conjures up someone in a religious discussion saying God is
    > According to Merriam Webster, existentialism means: "a chiefly 20th
    > century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering
    > on analysis of individual existence in an unfathonable universe and the
    > plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for his
    > acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong
    > or good or bad." I'm not sure what that lead balloon means, but I assure
    > you it is NOT my position.

    Webster is hardly the source for a complete philosophical definition. I
    think I've defined existentialism and its development fairly well in the
    Experience section of my thesis. If you've read anything by Heidegger or
    Sartre, you must be aware that they hold man to be a product of material
    existence, and their metaphysical thesis is that Being precedes Essence.
    There is no creator or primary source other than Being. My question is: Is
    this not also your position? Although you say it's not, you wrote:

    > I see no distinction between an absolute and existence, nor do I seek a
    > source of existence because existence requires no source.

    If you don't believe in an absolute source and regard material existence as
    the only reality, it follows that man and his intellect and his values are
    all evolutionary products of the material world. I'm sorry, but that's
    existentialism, Platt.
    You also say that Existence equals Quality, which is necessitated by the
    fact that you do not ascribe a metaphysical source or cause to Quality. It
    would seem to me that, except for this ill-defined and ephemeral Quality,
    which you equate with existence anyway, you've rejected transcendence,
    spirituality, and any supernatural cause. Am I correct?

    > Quality IS morality in Pirsig's metaphysics.

    And since he defines morality as "some things are better than others", I
    take this equation to mean that Quality is anything man experiences that's a
    little better than something else. I'd describe that as an existentially
    modified echo of the platonic Supreme Good, less the "Supreme".

    > Is there any escaping that Essence had a prior source? Or are you saying
    > Essence doesn't exist?

    I'll answer by repeating the comment I hear so often from you folks: You
    just don't get it! But I'll try once more.

    Beyond man's rational, physical existence there is an absolute reality from
    which difference arises. I call it Essence. Essence does not "exist" in
    time and space -- these dimensions are products of man's finite rational
    perspective. Essence is only manifested to finite creatures as Value.
    Since Essence is absolute, it does not evolve, has no beginning or ending,
    and transcends all conditions and entities of finitude. Platt, you must at
    some earlier period in your life have believed in a God. Did you believe
    then that this God had to be "created" by a prior source? As the primary
    source or Creator, Essence has the same role. If ordinary unsophisticated
    religious people get it, why can't you? As you said about existence
    (although I disputed it), Essence "simply IS".

    > You never know when you might crack this thick skull of
    > mine so that I may be enlightened.

    Have I made, possibly, a slight dent?

    Oh well, there'll always be another day!

    Best regards,


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