RE: MD Pirsig's conception of ritual

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Feb 16 2003 - 03:07:23 GMT

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    Johnny said:
    I had some thoughts about what you said there. Specifically, that the
    beginning of the intellectual level, aka the birth of philosophy, was when
    people began to question the static social patterns and rituals and demand
    justification for them. But I don't think they had to question rituals or
    their validity or usefullness in order to develop intellectual static
    patterns. Rather, after comfortably feeling secure in social situations
    thanks to rituals, it became possible for principles such as democracy to
    develop and to begin to repeat as intellectual patterns. I don't think
    intellectual patterns required any cutting away of ritual vines, but rather
    required the vines themselves. Yes, that's the axe I'll be grinding in all
    my posts.

    DMB says:
    Right. The gods and rituals are part of what makes philosophy possible and
    cutting those vines is the SOM mistake Pirsig is trying to fix. None of this
    is inconsistent with transcendence of the social level. Questioning the gods
    is not quite the same as abondoning them, although that is what's happened
    now. As Wilber would put it, the 4th level includes what has come before and
    brings something new to all of it.

    Johnny said:
    What Plato did by insisting that the sophists know why they were teaching
    the rituals was to encapsulate the good. Doesn't Pirsig imply that Plato
    caused some harm by doing that? That he should have let the Sophists just
    continue to teach rituals for their own sake, without trying to encapsulate
    and justify everything?

    DMB says:
    Pirsig shifts a bit from ZMM to Lila, especially when it comes to what he's
    willing to explain and encapsulate. There he is willing to define ritual and
    describe its function and all that. The Sophists should have been able to
    handle that kind of thing too. But it is true that some of the Sophists, of
    the Orphic variety, were conducting rituals that opened people up to a
    mystical experience. It was forbidden to speak of that then and in the MOQ.
    It is DQ, the mystical things and the outcome of creative change that we can
    really get a philsophical handle on.

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