DMB and Me (or, a Typology of the MD), Part I (B)

From: Matt Kundert (
Date: Wed May 18 2005 - 03:17:35 BST

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    But, to make this description of our conflict even more complicated, I have
    a hunch that there may be a third level of conflict working beyond this, in
    the explanation of _why_ there is a split between the two fights. My
    explanation (meaning, my perception, or from my point of view) is that this
    two-tiered battle occurs because, to a certain extent, a philosopher's
    personal philosophical views are inextricably bound up with their
    interpretation of individual philosophers (not on all points, but on certain
    points). I think DMB's explanation might be that I've bled in another,
    conflicting philosophy into the battle (namely, Rortyan pragmatism) and that
    this creates the divergence of our views about Pirsig, and this bleeding is
    bad and wrongly done. But I'm genuinely not sure about how DMB would
    explain it. Because recently Platt has inveighed against Anthony for, in
    Platt's words, "twist[ing] the MOQ any way you want to fit your preconceived
    Weltanschauung." This sentiment is usually aimed at me. So Platt, it would
    seem, would surely think the explanation I've attributed to DMB is correct,
    though I'm not sure about DMB or Anthony. I _think_ the disagreement
    revolves around the notion of "authorial intention" and how much it needs to
    be respected because if you look at the two explanations I've given, the
    main (possibly only) piece of argumentation/evidence on the DMB-attributed
    explanation is that _Pirsig_ denies there is a conflict in his writing. I'm
    certainly willing to admit that Pirsig sees his philosophy steadily as a
    coherent, unconflicted whole. But I think he's wrong, just as I think DMB
    and Anthony wrong on this count, and I think that still leaves open the
    interpretation of the _spirit_ of Pirsig to people _other_ than Pirsig. The
    "spirit" of a philosopher is what lives on in his philosophy, which isn't
    neccessarily what the _philosopher_ wants to live on, but is instead a
    function of what his _followers_ or interpreters want to live on. So, DMB,
    Anthony, and Platt all want Pirsig's coherent whole to live on (to some
    certain, though obviously differing extent), whereas I only want what I
    interpret to be Pirsig's pragmatist-compatible passages to live on.

    At any rate, whether or not DMB (or Anthony or Platt) would agree to my last
    explanation about the cause of the two-tiered battle, this two-tiered (and
    possibly three-tiered) conflict clearly makes our exchanges very muddy and
    very bloody, as there's a lot at stake, all at once in fact. And I think
    this three-tiered schematic makes sense of a lot of other people's
    individual battles with each other. Now, it might certainly seem to you,
    Mark, that I've taken all this time, in a supposed response to you, to
    continue a conversation with DMB (and others) and that much or most or all
    of this has little bearing on our conversation. But I think it does. I
    would certainly hesitate to call you "new" (your stint being a bit over a
    year), but as you acknowledged, there are conflicts here older than your
    tenure here, namely the one at hand. But even more, there are battle-lines
    that have been drawn for a long time between many of us "old-timers" (some
    of us, like me, not even as old as others, like Platt). These lines change
    as the participants come and go and as the participants themselves change,
    and, as should be apparent from the above three-tiered schematic, the lines
    are differently arrayed depending on point of view. But sometimes the root
    stays the same despite, and most of the time the root is the alignment of
    certain individuals as against certain other individuals. For instance, the
    first time DMB and I ever exchanged posts. People took sides in the debate
    we'd decided the terms of (based on the fact that it was originally our
    exchange). Not to be horribly egocentric about this (or "messianic," as you
    said), but one of the major battle lines when I send in a post, enter into
    any exchange or conversation, is an old battle line developed over my
    interpretation of Pirsig and of philosophy. Its an old battle line with
    players on both sides. Some people are sympathetic to my reading, some
    people aren't.

    And so the lines developed. If I may be so bold as to paint part of this
    partictular playing field (as I see it), there's (currently) myself, Sam,
    and Scott on one side and DMB, Anthony, and Platt on the other. This isn't,
    certainly, to say that there isn't nuance between each individual's
    philosophy, as if there's no difference in the two groups of people on
    either side. Nothing could be further from the truth, though, I think, when
    people on either side look over to the other side, they see far more
    similarities between their opponents then their opponents do between
    themselves. But that's the way it is with philosophical battle lines.
    They're made in polemic. So, when DMB, Anthony, and Platt inveigh against
    me with the same types of arguments (as I perceive them), a "side" is
    created. And when Sam and Scott are attacked for similar things as I am,
    and we all respond similiarly, another "side" is created. It is makeshift,
    and its over a very particular (though sometimes shrinking, sometimes
    enlargening, based on a side's internal disagreements) topic, or
    constellation of ideas. Different lines will be drawn for different topics
    or ideas (for instance, political topics, as opposed to specifically
    philosophical ones), so there will be innumberable particular, specific
    battle lines to be drawn, based on the topic and whose perspective we're
    talking about. But some stand out over time, based on how long a
    conversation lasts, how long the people last, how many people get involved,
    and sometimes who the people are.

    ...continued in Part II

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