Re: MD Metaphysics and Pragmatism

From: Matt the Enraged Endorphin (
Date: Sun Feb 16 2003 - 23:10:02 GMT

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    DMB, Sam,

    I think I know what you mean now when you say, "I [DMB] guess your [Matt]
    style doesn't work for me." If you have as much trouble trying to read my
    posts as I just had reading yours, then no wonder we usually talk past each

    Uh, I guess I just don't quite see the point of your last post. I mean,
    you make a convincing enough case for perennial philosophy in Pirsig and
    for it not being a foundation. Certainly I agree (whatever the particulars
    of perennial philosophy), being as I'm one of the strongest supporters of
    reading out any foundation activity in the MoQ. Your discussion would be
    one of the things one could emphasize in Pirsig when arguing that the best
    way to read Pirsig is as an antifoundationalist. As I see it, you aren't
    arguing with me, really, but with people like Platt and Bo. They see the
    MoQ as giving us the correct reading of reality that will allow us to use
    reason to decide moral disputes once and for all. They argue that without
    this correct _foundation_ for our moral arguments, this platform that we
    can hash out our differences, we will be led to moral nihilism, relativism,
    paralysis, degeneracy, and a number of other scary prospects that I don't
    see as being entailed by the lack of a theory.

    I think Sam said it best when he distinguished between two senses of
    metaphysics. Sense 1 ("how we organise the filing cabinet of our minds -
    how does physics relate to chemistry, ethics to literature, theology to
    economics - 'the big picture'") is what I call "philosophy," following
    Wilfrid Sellars. Sense 2 I think needs some touching up to get at what I
    think the difference is. Sense 2, I would say, is "the search for the
    correct final vocabulary of reality." Sense 1 is about pushing around the
    contents of our minds, which is essentially what our final vocabulary is.
    Sense 2 is the desire to get our individual final vocabulary closer to the
    final vocabulary that reality uses. It is what leads to what Dewey called
    that "whole nest and brood of Greek dualisms."

    I think the issue is whether Pirsig thinks he's found the correct final
    vocabulary that reality wishes we would just get on and describe it as or
    whether Pirsig thinks he is just offering us one more way of describing
    reality. I'm pretty sure I remember reading in Lila once a line like, "The
    MoQ exists whether we know it or not," or something along those lines (for
    the life of me I can't remember where it was). If that line exists, or
    lines like it, then support is given to the Platt/Bo interpretation. If
    they don't, and we are only left with the lines I like such as, "saying
    that a Metaphysics of Quality is false and a subject-object metaphysics is
    true is like saying that rectangular coordinates are true and polar
    coordinates are false," (Ch. 8) then we are left with support for a
    pragmatist reading.


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