RE: DMB and Me (or, a Typology of the MD), Part I (A)

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Thu May 19 2005 - 04:12:35 BST

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    Matt, Mark and all:

    Matt Kundert said: ....................................The way I see the
    fight, DMB and I are both holding a single Pirsig stick, one on each side,
    and both sides are pointed. In the fight, we try and push the stick into
    the other guys belly. The end of the stick that's sticking into my belly is

    the "Platonist point" and the end of the stick in DMB's is the "pragmatist
    point." (I'm pretty sure DMB would want to redescribe the names of the
    points, but I think the names, currently, are irrelevant to the analogy I'm
    developing, as we'll see in a moment.)

    dmb says:
    Poking each other with sticks? Sure, its a fun analogy until somebody puts
    an eye out. Or points out the creepy Freudian quality of it. But I'm so
    flattered that you named a thread after me that I'll just let that go

    There's another reason I don't like your description. I've only read Part I
    so far and may have to take this part back, but my perspective doesn't
    appear in your description of the battle at all. I'm a Platonist? Huh? As I
    understand it, the MOQ is a form of philosopical mysticism, a kind of
    American Buddhism. And, yes, I think this is so central and essential to the
    MOQ that I'm offended by interpretations that leave it out. I think our
    battle is about that. I think that pragmatism without that is nihilistic and
    is very much part of the problem that the MOQ seeks to cure. As I understand
    it, your view is wildly at odds with the heart of the MOQ. If Plato has
    anything to do with that, it would be news to me.

    Matt continued: ..................................... and I think Pirsig's
    philosophy (basically) two incompatible parts (which is why, in my account,
    I'm poking him with the "pragmatist point," because when I want to beat back

    Platonism I use Pirsig's pragmatist passages, and DMB pokes me with the
    "Platonist point," because when he wants to beat back my nihilism, DMB uses
    Pirsig's Platonist passages).

    dmb says:
    You talk as if the distinction between platonists and pragmatists were
    something important, but I just can't get excited about it. Sorry. I think
    that whole debate is very far away from what Pirsig is doing. I think you've
    interpreted the history of philosophy in a way that leaves mysticism
    entirely out of the picture. Its not an option for you, so that when I press
    the issue you call me a Platonist. Trust me, Rorty is not going to help you
    understand philosophical mysticism. Quite the opposite. He's on a different
    planet. I think that interpreting the MOQ through his lens is wrong in many
    ways. And yes, to be honest, I think it shows that you don't get it. I'd
    guess its one of those things you dismissed before ever really seeing it,
    probably because so few contemporary philosophers can take mysticism

    Matt continued:
    ... in DMB's perception there is no fight over Pirsig, just the
    philosophical beatings. ..._And_, despite the fact that the "DMB's
    perception" leaves out any mention of a struggle over interpreting Pirsig,
    DMB obviously does acknowledge that we are both fighting over the correct
    interpretation of Pirsig. This is why I think using the full description of
    the two different, conflicting perceptions of an analogized fight between
    DMB and I may be a description of our conflict that DMB and I can agree on.

    dmb says:
    Huh? Of course we're fighting over interpretations. But I'm sincerely
    baffled and perplexed. How can you reject so much of the MOQ and still
    expect to have the correct interpretation? This is the source of my
    incredulity. This is behind the joke that your metaphysics of quality only
    leaves out the metaphysics and the quality. And since then, you've been
    re-arranging and or denying the levels. You want to erase everything but the
    pragmatism and then you want to turn up the volume on the the pragmatic
    parts. This is the source of my motorcylce analogy, wherein you attempt to
    improve it by removing the engine. This is why I called you a parts-smasher
    and an intellectual vandal. This is the source of my "that's stupid"
    attitude. From my perspective, it should be obvious to any MOQer that the
    rejection or dismissal of these aspects of the MOQ is an epic blunder. Its
    my biggest complaint and yet it goes unmentioned in your loooooong
    descriptions. That's stupid.

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