Re: MD New Level of Thinking

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Thu Dec 23 2004 - 04:24:29 GMT

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    > > [Scott:] There seems to be some confusion here between Pirsig's view,
    > > my
    > > charcterization of Pirsig's view, and my view.
    [Steve:] > I can't claim to fully understand any of those, but I can try to
    > explain my view of Pirsig's view.
    > > When I said: " "pure [DQ]
    > > experience" which is then SQ-ized by intellect", I meant to be
    > > characterizing Pirsig's view, as in:
    > >
    [Steve]> In my view, when you use the verb SQ-ized you are talking about
    > SQ-izing is what DQ is. It is Quality, not DQ, that gets SQ-ized, since
    > SQ-izing is DQ. This is Creation. DQ is aka the ground of being.

    Then how do you explain the role of intellect as *creating* SQ, if
    intellect is just SQ? My view is that intellect is the whole enchilada,
    both SQ and DQ. So Nature, or something, or some non-thing, SQ-izes to
    create life forms, while we SQ-ize to create intellectual forms.

    > > "A "dim apprehension of he knows not what" gets him off the stove
    > > Dynamically. Later he generates static patterns of thought to explain
    > > the
    > > situation." [Ch. 9]
    [Steve:] > I think this relates back to Quality as pre-intellectual
    awareness from
    > ZAMM. ZAMM's Quality is sometimes Quality and sometimes DQ, so it gets
    > confusing.

    Paul's recent post seems to clear this up somewhat: Quality in ZAMM is DQ
    in Lila. This raises different problems for me, though. I tend to see value
    as "between" DQ and SQ, that neither can be said to exist except in the act
    of creating value. Similarly for reason, and awareness. So I took Quality
    as distinct from DQ to relate my thinking to the MOQ. So I may be further
    from the MOQ than I thought.

    > I don't particularly like this explanation of DQ. I think he says this
    > before getting into the types of patterns? It seems to me that getting
    > off of hot stoves is a biological pattern. It is pre-intellectual,
    > though. There are no subjects and objects (as Mark Maxwell would say,
    > such aesthetic creations of the intellect) in the hot stove getting
    > off. Pirsig may be illustrating that Quality precedes subjects and
    > objects to show that these are human creations, patterns not required
    > by the physical and biological universe.

    I agree about not liking this explanation, but unfortunately, it is in this
    explanation that he establishes his pattern of privileging DQ over SQ, as
    when he says that the mystic is likely to get off the stove faster than the
    intellectual. By the way, I do not agree that subjects and objects are
    "aesthetic creations of the intellect". I think subjects and objects are a
    different way of talking about DQ and SQ, a different take on contradictory
    identity. (Note: this is using the traditional use of 'subject' and
    'object' in philosophy, where an object can be a thought or feeling, and so
    forth. Pirsig's use of the words is different.)

    > However, Quality is not just pre-intellectual awareness, but pre-'any
    > kind of pattern' awareness. Undivided Quality is unpatterned awareness
    > which gets DQed into perceptual structures of four types. Quality is
    > the ocean, static quality is the waves. DQ is making waves.

    As a metaphor, this works only up to a point. Doesn't the self make waves?
    (You can ignore the double-entendre there -- I just mean that we are
    agents, not just passive respondents to DQ.)

    > BTW, can you tell me what a pattern is? I've been looking for a good
    > definition.

    I don't think there is one. Any definition of 'pattern' will use some more
    or less equivalent word, such as 'relation', 'order', 'form', and so on,
    equally in need of definition. In fact, I consider 'pattern' to be
    necessarily primitive, definitionally speaking, and this raises interesting
    philosophical issues. One of them is the equally necessary role of
    awareness and intellect, i.e., pattern recognition, to have a pattern.

    > >
    > > "..James had condensed this description to a single sentence: "There
    > > must
    > > always be a discrepancy between concepts and reality, because the
    > > former
    > > are static and discontinuous while the latter is dynamic and flowing."
    > > Here
    > > James had chosen exactly the same words Phaedrus had used for the basic
    > > subdivision of the [MOQ]." [Ch. 29]
    > >
    > I don't think we can assume that Pirsig's reality does not include
    > static patterns because he supports James' "dynamic and flowing
    > reality." I'm not sure what your point is with this one.

    That Pirsig, without objection, quotes James' making a distinction between
    concepts and reality. Why are concepts not just as real as anything else?
    This ties back (see above) to Pirsig's tendency to denigrate intellect in
    favor of DQ. So, yes, Pirsig considers concepts to be real, but inferior to

    > > and when I characterized Pirsig's view with "the mystical goal is to
    > > experience pure DQ by putting all SQ to sleep." I was referring to:
    > >
    > > "The [MOQ] suggests...there is another [solution to insanity]. This
    > > solution is to dissolve *all* static patterns, both sane and insane,
    > > and
    > > find the base of reality, Dynamic Quality, that is independent of all
    > > of
    > > them." [Ch. 30]
    > I don't think that this can be taken too literally. How could one exist
    > without participating in biological patterns?

    Well, yes, but that isn't what I am objecting to. What I am objecting to is
    the notion that DQ exists *in addition to* SQ, so if SQ are put to sleep,
    or intellectually dissolved, one gets "pure DQ". Now many mystics describe
    their experiences in this way, so I am not saying one cannot have such
    experiences. However, I see this as a bad *metaphysical* basis. What Pirsig
    is describing is pretty much the view of early (pre-Mahayana) Buddhism,
    that nirvana was the "blowing out" of all patterns. With the Mahayana,
    especially the Madhamika strain of Nagarjuna, came the contradictory
    identity view, that nirvana *is* samsara (DQ is not other than the
    patterns). For a modern mystic's view, I recommend Franklin Merrell-Wolff,
    who had a "dissolving all static patterns" mystical experience, thought
    that that was IT, and was surprised a month later to have a deeper
    experience of the Mahayana type. Only then did he realize that in the first
    experience there was a lingering dualism -- that of nirvana "instead of"

    > The answer to one of the central questions of ZAMM, why do people
    > differ in their views of what has quality while there is often a lot of
    > agreement is that undivided Quality and DQ, the patterning which
    > creates perceptual structures, is the same for everyone, while sq, the
    > set of patterns that people's awareness creates and the context in
    > which they are created, differs from person to person.

    I don't see that this helps much. Doesn't it amount to just saying that
    people are different? Whether what causes whatever happens to happen is DQ
    SQ-izing or anything else, the result is the same. Different people react

    > >
    > > My impression is that Pirsig thinks of both "pure experience" and "the
    > > leading edge of experience" as DQ. If I'm wrong on this, let me know
    > > where
    > > he distinguishes them.
    > I think that Pirsig is a little loose in his use of the term DQ, which
    > makes it hard to discern a coherent view of DQ. I've found that people
    > in this group are still far more liberal in their use of DQ and cloud
    > the issue.

    This is where I see the logic of contradictory identity as a help. But the
    more I look at it, the more it is just different from Pirsig, so it really
    amounts to a change in metaphysics, which doesn't help.

    > > Rather, DQ and SQ always exist only insofar as they oppose each other
    > > as
    > > they constitute each other, that is, they follow the form of
    > > contrdictory
    > > identities.
    > I don't think I disagree, but I'm not sure. Can you point it out if I
    > said anything above which contradicts this view?

    I would say that this is counter to it:

    " However, Quality is not just pre-intellectual awareness, but pre-'any
    kind of pattern' awareness. Undivided Quality is unpatterned awareness
    which gets DQed into perceptual structures of four types. Quality is
    the ocean, static quality is the waves. DQ is making waves."

    It makes DQ and SQ two separable concepts, while the LCI sees them as
    mutually penetrating. There is no 'pre' in the LCI, since any 'pre' gets
    treated as an idol.

    > > And so I reject the concept of "pure experience".
    > Pure experience is Quality? DQ? As I've described these terms, which
    > one is pure experience?

    DQ, but see Paul's recent post.

    > > All
    > > experience is always a DQ/SQ opposition,
    > I think the mystic is able to dissolve this opposition and
    > identification with sq and firstly, identify DQ, then identify himself
    > with DQ ("dissolve *all* static patterns, both sane and insane"), and
    > ultimately experience sq as DQ. Or so I've heard, I'm no mystic. I bet
    > that would cure Lila, anyway. :-&

    Well, this is the bone of contention between me and DMB. See above about
    Merrell-Wolff. As I see it, this kind of mysticism is not fully non-dualist.

    > For Pirsig good may be a noun, but I think DQ must then be a verb. I
    > sometimes think of DQ as a verb, anyway -- DQ-ing, patterning. It is
    > the ongoing creation that is actually everything. It is Being. From a
    > certain perspective DQ is Quality itself and not just the slicing of
    > Quality.
    > Then there is the personal awareness perspective that imagines itself
    > in the womb with a brand new brain to record it's first structures of
    > perception, and build new ones on top of existing ones on and on out of
    > the undifferentiated aesthetic continuum of existence in a soup of womb
    > juice.
    > Then there is the even more solipsistic MOQ where Awareness = Quality
    > and my awareness is the creation of static patterns Now, and all that
    > exists is my Now, and the idea of being in a womb at some time is just
    > an idea, an intellectual pattern that is useful for explaining Now.
    > Everything including you is subjects and objects created by my
    > awareness and so am I.

    Awareness can equal Quality without falling into solipsism. SQ as
    universals are, in general, independent of particular acts of awareness.

    > And then there is the evolutionary perspective where Reality = Quality
    > and some big bang of DQ started it all, and continues to create
    > patterns that constitute us and that we participate in.
    > Sooooooo, anyway, sq and DQ and Quality are just words with all the
    > limitations that words have in describing experience.

    Well, that's the sort of thing one says if one thinks of concepts as
    inferior to DQ :-).

    - Scott

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