RE: MD Is Morality Relative? (or "Is there anything out there?")

From: Paul Turner (
Date: Mon Dec 27 2004 - 19:16:49 GMT

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    Hi Mark

    Paul previously said:
    In this respect, Pirsig recently had this to say about the
    relationship between sense data and value in the MOQ:

    "...propositionally speaking, experience is sense data but the sense
    data has already been preselected by quality. We are flooded with
    far more sense data all the time than we can possibly absorb. We do
    not, for example, sense even our own eye-blinks although our whole
    field of vision goes dark when they occur. These eye-blinks are not
    sensed because they are not valued. So the MOQ is strictly empiricist
    but it says all sense data is valued sense data. Scientifically
    speaking, that which cannot be distinguished from anything else does
    not exist. The MOQ says that which is not valued either positively or
    negatively is not distinguished from anything else. Therefore sense
    data that is devoid of value does not exist." [Pirsig to McWatt,

    msh says:
    Here he says there is a "flood" of sense data, some of which is
    preselected by DQ. That is, he seems to be saying there are two kinds
    of sense data, some valuable and some not.

    He states that, according to the MOQ, "all sense data is valued sense
    data." That is, if value is the primary reality, then the sense data
    cannot be said to exist unless it is of value.

    Mark said:
    is it that there really is no mixed flood of valuable and valueless
    sense data, but only sense data presented (created?) by DQ for our
    enjoyment, all of it valuable?

    Good question. My understanding of this is that the "flood of data" that
    we don't always sense is a deduction - but I think he is saying that the
    actual empirical experience is only of valued sense data. Eye blinks are
    sometimes valued, like when someone draws attention to them, and are
    therefore sensed and sometimes they aren't. Whilst they aren't always
    sensed, it can be deduced that they always occur. This is how our whole
    world is constructed. As children we learn that people and things don't
    disappear when they leave the room but we have no empirical experience
    of this if we can't hear them. What the MOQ doesn't do is take these
    deductions and make them the primary reality. This is the mistake of SOM
    when it takes things like hypothesised atoms and assumes that they are a
    primary reality and that they are what cause our experience. The MOQ
    takes these deductions and calls them static patterns, they always come
    after the empirical experience.

    msh says:
    Ok. Here's the rub. If DQ comes before both mind and matter then it
    must be external to both.

    Yes, it is neither mind nor matter, Pirsig makes this very clear.

    MSH said:
      That is, DQ, at least, must be "out there"
    independent of any sentient. Since he has already degenerated into
    metaphysical speculation, I think it's fair to require him to take a
    stand regarding this issue. At this point, it's too late to
    honestly avoid the issue by claiming that DQ is a "mystical" entity
    and can't be defined. At least, IMHO.

    Paul said:
    I think the stand is that the MOQ says that DQ is the something that is
    there, it is postulated that it is the source of all experiencers and
    all experienced and that it has no source of its own. A fundamental "out
    there" presupposes that there is a fundamental "in here," i.e., it is
    already an SOM assumption, which comes later in the metaphysical
    structure of the MOQ as a distinction between static patterns, but this
    distinction is not applicable to DQ.

    msh says:
    Please understand that I find the moral
    hierarchy of the MOQ to be extremely valuable in my miniscule
    attempts to make the world a place of higher quality for all. But I
    also think that Pirsig's metaphysics, once he has defined it, cannot
    be immunized against criticism by claiming that DQ cannot be defined.
     Even if, especially if, that criticism comes from the so-called
    establishment philosophers. Pirsig elected to play their game,

    Agreed. The MOQ is Pirsig's attempt to bring something which cannot be
    arrived at rationally, but is readily experienced nonetheless, into a
    rational framework. Just remember that rational does not mean SOM, so
    don't criticise the MOQ for not starting with SOM assumptions such as a
    fundamental internal/external category into which value must fit.



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