RE: MD Disastrously naive indeed!

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Feb 16 2003 - 22:07:19 GMT

  • Next message: Matt the Enraged Endorphin: "Re: MD Metaphysics and Pragmatism"

    Sam and all:

    Sam said to Wim: (In the "ritual" thread.)
    On 1, I'm not sure that I agree. Does Pirsig anywhere describe a social
    level static pattern that could not be described as a 'ritual'? If he does,
    then my summary does need to be amended, on 1 and 2. (I'm pretty sure Pirsig
    sees religious rituals as only one type of ritual).

    Dmb says:
    This is a good example of why I don't think we can get at the nature of
    ritual with a five point memo. To understand what Pirsig is saying about
    ritual, especially as the connecting link to the intellectual level, we have
    to go beyond chapter 30 and otherwise take a broader view. Recall, for
    example, that prehistoric stone age people preformed rituals all day long,
    that it was indistinguishable from knowledge. Rituals aren't exactly
    synonymous with the social level, but its something like the essential heart
    of it all. To really see what Pirsig is saying about ritual is to see what
    the social level is. It is still with us in everyday life in a completely
    ubiquitous way. Recall, for example, that Pirsig says "celebrity" is the
    driving force of the social level. Recall how Cambell says it still lives in
    our courts, armys and dining rooms. How Pirsig says its the Mass and in pay
    day shopping. Its an Ocean, the one we all swim in. So yes. The social level
    is more than ritual as we usually think of it, but with an expanded idea of
    what ritual means here, not much more. Anyway, in response to my suggestion
    that the idea of ritual and the social level need to be vastly expanded to
    include most of what we are as human beings, Sam asked...

    I was more looking at the 'cops and soldiers' bit, but your further comments
    are suggestive. Are all those latter elements ("Its what allows us to think
    and talk, gives us our desires and conceptual categories, ideas of rights
    and wrong") products of fertilisation from the intellectual level, or are
    they intrinsic to the social?

    DMB says:
    The "metaphysics and pragmatism" post I sent earlier today, the one with the
    beefy quotes, goes along way toward answering you, I hope. But the short
    answer is that they are products of the social level. The very existence of
    an elaborate and powerful perennial philosophy, for example, is strong
    evidence that the social level has a wisdom and an intelligence that ought
    not be misunderestimated. To think of the social level as a set of rituals
    or any other thing so small does just that, I think. Most of the words in
    the dictionary are products of the social level. How long did language
    evolve before intellect ever came along? How long did rituals and daily life
    evolve before philosophy came along? Who knows? But you can bet that
    intellectual evolution has been evolving for only a tiny fraction of that
    vast time period. All languages, civilizations, societies, myths, morals,
    religions and rituals are products of the social level. Its huge and
    ancient. It is everthing about us that is neither animal nor intellectual.
    Its everything that makes us human. I think its enormity can not be
    overstated. (Although I'm giving it a good shot, eh?) What I'm saying is
    that social values and ritual are both with us all day long. Its not some
    alien or archaic museum piece. 'Tis I and Thou. If you want to know what
    social values are, look at us. Its our human world.

    Could you explain the way in which the separation of church and state does
    not rule out *some* categories of intellectual endeavour (eg theocratic
    arguments)? I guess you would say that such arguments were by definition
    non-intellectual, but that seems to be begging the question.

    DMB says:
    The idea is that the State is prohibited from establishing an offical
    religion AND from preventing the free exercise of religion. Perhaps you'd
    say it amounts to the same thing. That religious freedom necessarily rules
    out theocracy, even if people are allowed to believe in it and advocate it.
    (Ironically, such activist would speak out under the protection of that very
    same freedom they would dispense with.) In any case, begging the question or
    not, theocracy is right us there with monarchy, serfdom and slavery;
    precisely the kind of thing that the advocates of intellectual freedom would
    like least of all. These are the kinds of things intellectually guided
    societies are supposed to cure. Anyway, people are free to believe that God
    belongs in politics. They certainly do here in the USA and they even effect
    real policies. The president swears his oath on the bible, but a judge ruled
    that the phrase "under god" in the pledge of alligence was illegal. Go

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