Re: MD "Is there anything out there?"

From: Ian Glendinning (
Date: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 10:47:46 GMT

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    Paul, just picking up on one core point in here ...

    You said ..
    "Well, I would say it's intellect that constructs external reality. If you
    feel the need to divorce imagination from rationality then go ahead."

    ie "Intellect Constructs External Reality" you say.
    Before the pedants pick you up on the logic of that axiomatic statement,
    could I just unpick your intended meaning ?
    I see two extreme interpretations one of which I consider true, and one
    which I believe could possibly be shown to be true.

    Intellect (as in the higher order mind functions of "intelligent beings"
    like humans, from which emerge the socio-intellectual patterns of behaviour)
    Constructs (as in creates the only useful interpretation of)
    External Rationality (the intellect can ever know, even if "external
    rationality" actually does exist "out there")
    This I agree with.

    Intellect (as in some transcendant concept of consciousness)
    Constructs (as in the stuff all existence is made of, in some fundamental
    External Reality (which independantly really exists "out there").
    This I suspect could turn out to be true, and in fact the intellects of (1)
    and (2) may even interact, but since we may possibly only ever see it
    through interpretation (1) it might be forever irrelevant. (But I'm not
    sure. It is this "intellect" or super-consciousness which I see as prone to
    god-like metaphors, which are understandable, even useful, provided people
    don't then mis-athropomorphise them into some super-being with a mind with
    intent and purpose, etc, in order to explain the teleological reason "why"

    One thing I'm in sure agreement over is that anyone who thinks they can
    divorce reality from intellectual constructs (imagination) is doomed to a
    sad, frustrating and tautological quest, (beyond the inherent interest of
    pure though experiments.)


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Paul Turner" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Thursday, December 30, 2004 5:02 PM
    Subject: RE: MD "Is there anything out there?"

    > Hi Ham
    > Ham said:
    > I've been hanging in here, quietly awaiting your Pirsig exposition which
    > has
    > now apparently been preempted by your collaboration on Anthony McWatt's
    > PhD
    > thesis. Since that appears to be available only as purchased hard copy,
    > I'm
    > somewhat confused as to precisely what new insight is available and
    > where it
    > may be found.
    > Paul:
    > There is no new insight. What I have produced is a straight-forward
    > exposition of Pirsig's system. I did this by first organising all of the
    > material I have collected (from ZMM, LILA, LILA'S CHILD, SODV, AHP
    > Lecture and correspondence) into a logical order and then by adding my
    > own words to add context and link the material together. It just needs
    > tidying up a little and referencing so you can have a copy when I finish
    > it.
    > Ham said:
    > I'm in complete agreement with the premise that, in the metaphysical
    > sense
    > at least, "out there" and "in here" are irrelevant qualifications.
    > However,
    > I think we have to be careful how we define the cause of this polar
    > phenomenon. Isn't it "rationality" rather than "imagination" which
    > constructs physical reality externally to the self?
    > Paul:
    > Well, I would say it's intellect that constructs external reality. If
    > you feel the need to divorce imagination from rationality then go ahead.
    > Ham said:
    > Also, I'm not sure what
    > you mean by "the distinction between 'out there' and 'in here' is not a
    > fundamental unquestionable reality." Are you saying that the
    > distinction
    > itself is not unquestionable, or do you mean to suggest that such a
    > divided
    > reality is questionable? Could you kindly clarify that assertion for
    > me?
    > Paul:
    > Okay, that was sloppy writing, I'm afraid I've been a little rushed
    > lately. What I was saying was that, in terms of philosophical discourse,
    > the conceptual distinction between 'out there' and 'in here' should not
    > be taken as a starting point, which it often is.
    > Ham said:
    > I have a problem with "being" as the primary source, as you probably
    > know.
    > Whatever has being is a specific finite entity; that is, a "being" is
    > differentiated from non-being or "nothingness", as well as from any
    > other
    > being....I have the same problem with your positing of 'sense data' as
    > the a priori source.
    > Paul:
    > I am using the term sense data for the generalised 'something' which is
    > sensed. It can also be called sense experience or just experience. I
    > don't mean anything subjective/objective or mental/physical. Those
    > distinctions are applied later and are nowhere to be found in the front
    > edge of the experience itself.
    > Ham said:
    > Data of any kind are specific, like any kind of being.
    > Paul:
    > I disagree, perhaps sense data has too much SOM baggage but I am using
    > it as a simple reference to something sensed. Once differentiated, it is
    > this or that and not just pure sense data. It is then intellectualised
    > sense data with properties and so on i.e. intellectualised into objects
    > of some kind.
    > Ham said:
    > As your statement
    > implies, the "something that is there" cannot be sense data but "refers
    > to
    > the source of this sense data, prior to differentiation". I see nothing
    > illogical about calling the source Dynamic Quality, so long as it is
    > non-differentiated.
    > Paul:
    > What I am saying is that Dynamic Quality is sensed, therefore, prior to
    > any intellectual differentiations being made, pure sense data is Dynamic
    > Quality i.e., pure sense data is pure undifferentiated value. It is the
    > negative aesthetic value that is immediately sensed in the hot stove
    > example in LILA. This is really not as complicated as I appear to be
    > making it. I think introducing the word 'source' has complicated things
    > and I know how philosophically important it is to you to have a source
    > in there somewhere. You could say that undifferentiated sense data
    > (conceptual nothingness) is the source of differentiated sense data i.e.
    > things.
    > Ham said:
    > > "...propositionally speaking, experience is sense data but the sense
    > > data has already been preselected by quality.
    > I don't understand what this means. If Quality is a "selector" of
    > specifics, it is an agent and not the Source of experience.
    > Paul:
    > For experience to have a source there has to be something which cannot
    > be experienced, i.e., something *outside of* experience that is causing
    > it. The MOQ denies this proposition.
    > The differentiation of otherwise undifferentiated sense experience is
    > made on the basis of Quality. The differentiations are static patterns
    > in an otherwise undifferentiated Quality. The undifferentiated Quality,
    > i.e. minus static patterns, is referred to as Dynamic Quality.
    > Pirsig:
    > > We are trained to think of
    > > this sense data as coming from objects but the whole idea of objects
    > is
    > > arrived at from primitive value judgments of the sort newborn infants
    > > have before they have any idea of such a thing as an object and long
    > > before they have an idea of such a thing as mind. The MOQ says it is
    > the
    > > unnamable source of these valuations that comes first, not mind or
    > > matter. It calls this unnamable source "Dynamic Quality" for purposes
    > of
    > > intellectual reference, but carefully avoids defining it." [Pirsig to
    > > McWatt, 1999]
    > Ham said:
    > Why must the primary source be "unnamable" (especially given the fact
    > that
    > you've named it DQ)?
    > Paul:
    > Names generally define things and the 'primary source' is no thing.
    > Ham said:
    > Why isn't Value itself the experiential source?
    > Paul:
    > You make a distinction between experiential reality and non-experiential
    > reality which I deny. Also, rather than being the source of experience,
    > value is postulated as pure experience itself.
    > Ham said:
    > Is not Value the object of one's "valuation"?
    > Paul:
    > It is the primary source of them. Pure value is Dynamic Quality;
    > valuations are static patterns of quality. The process of valuation is
    > generally a combination of Dynamic Quality and static quality. It starts
    > out very Dynamic but depends more and more on static patterns as they
    > become more dominating.
    > Ham said:
    > Considering that there is no "out there" or "in here", is there a
    > distinction to be made between sense-data and sense-experience?
    > Paul:
    > I don't think so.
    > Ham said:
    > Also,
    > inasmuch as all experience is differentiated, how can either data or
    > sensation(s) qualifiy as the undifferentiated Source?
    > Paul:
    > Because not all experience is differentiated, although almost all of it
    > is.
    > Regards
    > Paul
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