Re: MD Pre-intellectual awareness = Dynamic Quality?

From: Arlo Bensinger (
Date: Thu May 12 2005 - 22:07:48 BST

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "Re: MD Fwd: Pre-intellectual awareness = Dynamic Quality?"

    Hi Michael,

    This is an interesting question. If I understand you correctly, you are
    saying that even at the pre-intellectual area, "experience" is still
    selective due to biological adaptations, and as such there is really no
    "pre-anything" experience that would equate with a full, uncategorical
    experience of DQ.

    I wrestled around with a similar question, namely that of radio waves in
    the air. Let's take someone who grew up in a remote area and has no
    knowledge of "radio" or "radio waves" (or anything of the sort). When
    she selects "experience" (presumably based on Quality) to symbolically
    represent, do these radio waves get ignored because they have no
    Quality? The green flash of the sun talked about in Lila proposes that
    the answer is yes, that the culture has not made this salient, and so
    experience ignores it. But humans are (as far as I know) biologically
    incapable of sensing radio waves. A culture that values them makes them
    salient as symbolically represented intellectual patterns only, and
    through this we can build machines that utilize them, but the actual
    "experience" of radio waves lies well outside our sensory abilities.

    Because we can't respond to them on the biological level suggests that-
    phylogenetically- these waves have no Quality on the biological level
    for humans. What this suggests is that different biologic organisms
    evolved based on responses to Quality that latched, statically, over
    long periods of time. Bats can use sonar, for example, because these
    sounds have a biological Quality for them. For humans, these sounds do not.

    However, I think (to me) the problem is in the assumption that
    "pre-intellectual" experience must be "sensory". It may include sensory
    experience, to various degrees, but I don't think it is simply a sensory
    experience. What that does, is "drop" DQ down to equate with biological
    Quality. That is, by removing social and intellectual patterns of
    thought (semiosis), we revent to a biological being, and so can respond
    only to biological Quality (sensory experience). That our sensory
    experience (biological Quality) is limited by what we could call
    "biological semiosis" (an evolutionary developed predisposition towards
    certain sensory input) should not mean that our ability to respond to DQ
    is limited, on either the biological or intellectual levels.

    Finally, on all levels (IBSI) DQ is what leads evolution to expand
    "experience" on those levels. If we could only respond to- biologically-
    that which we could sense, and- intellectually- that which we have
    symbolic representations for, there would be no evolution. We would not
    be stuck where we are, we would never have gotten here in the first place.

    I hope some of this makes sense, we'll see what others say...


    Michael Hamilton wrote:

    > Hi everyone,
    > I've been musing over ZMM for a year, and over Lila since the autumn,
    > and there's just one part of the MOQ as formulated by Pirsig that
    > strikes me as inconsistent. I'd be surprised if it hasn't come up over
    > the years of discussion that have been taking place on the MD, so I
    > apologise if I'm going over old ground.
    > According to Lila, Dynamic Quality has driven the evolution of
    > inorganic patterns into biological, social and intellectual patterns.
    > To me, this doesn't tally with ZMM's central thesis that pure
    > (Dynamic) Quality is the flux of pre-intellectual awareness supplied
    > by our senses. I accept that social and intellectual patterns "filter"
    > our experience into something more static and less bewildering, but
    > surely our senses are a *biological pattern*, and also filter the
    > Quality reality, before the social and intellectual patterns get
    > involved. I would stipulate that the ineffable Quality reality is
    > infinitely more complex than that which is presented by the limited
    > range of our five senses (following Kant's phenomena/noumena
    > distinction, and supported by Pirsig's 4 static levels thesis).
    > I propose softening the idea that pre-intellectual sensory awareness
    > is Dynamic Quality, suggesting instead that said sensory awareness is
    > the most Dynamic experience available to us (due to the fact that it
    > hasn't been filtered by static social and intellectual patterns).
    > "Most Dynamic experience available" may not be the best way to phrase
    > it, because I do accept the possibility that static biological
    > (sensory) filters can also be bypassed by meditation techniques, and
    > that it therefore may be possible to experience pure Quality. Perhaps
    > this is what Pirsig in fact intended, but in his writings I get the
    > distinct impression that the pre-intellectual awareness, with which he
    > equates DQ, is sensory.
    > I realise that my proposed modification somewhat undermines ZMM's
    > thesis that "Quality is the primary empirical reality" (if that's not
    > a direct quote then it's definitely an accurate paraphrase), but
    > that's the only way I can see of making the MOQ and the four levels
    > coherent - how can the senses not be a static biological pattern? Even
    > as I write this, doubts are creeping in. Am I letting the static
    > intellectual categorisation system of the 4 levels take precedence
    > over indefinable, empirical Dynamic Quality? Perhaps I've merely
    > exposed a flaw in the division of Quality into four static levels?
    > (Pirsig himself says that this is an arbitrary division, but that it
    > has high quality as an intellectual pattern due to its usefulness.)
    > I'd very much appreciate your thoughts on this dilemma.
    > Regards,
    > Mike

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