Re: MD Making sense of it (levels)

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sun Feb 23 2003 - 21:34:07 GMT

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD Perennial Philosophy"

    Hi Johnny,

    > This is why I think using "idea" is problematic. I do think bees have
    > ideas, and I could even, if drunk enough, defend the idea that sunflowers
    > have ideas too, just not very many.

    We seem to have different ideas of what an idea is. I'll go along with
    Pirsig's idea that it "is the collection and manipulation of symbols,
    created in the brain, that stand for patterns of experience," an ability not
    evident in bees or sunflowers. But drunk or sober, I would be hard
    pressed to object to the idea that bees and sunflowers are aware, even
    if they don't know it.

    >Schopenhauer's "The World As Will and
    > Idea" suggests that everything is an idea of itself and what it will.

    Schopenhauer (next to Pirsig my favorite philosopher) gave us a most
    interesting initial premise on which to build a belief system--a
    transcendent "will" or "desire to be." I like Schopenhauer because "he
    saw that the ultimate good is beauty, and that the ultimate joy lies in
    creation or cherishing the beautiful." (Will Durant, "The Story of
    Philosophy.") I don't think Pirsig emphasized beauty enough.

    > Certainly we humans have ideas that we would put at the social level,
    > anyway, right? Like 'adultery is a sin' and stuff like that?

    Well, the social level is an idea if you want to look at it that way. We
    also have an idea of a biological level where we would put ideas such as
    "survival of the fittest" and "instinct." Then, of course, there's the
    philosophy of Idealism which says reality is all in your head anyway, so
    it must be a product of God's idea, etc., etc. We've been down that road
    many times on this site. Is that where you want to go?
    > It came to me in a flash of DQ ;-) I don't consider Pirsig the
    > one-and-only source to explain how everything works, even his "own" theory,
    > which I don't think is free from intellectual biases. Of course my scale
    > idea fits my static intellectual patterns, I don't have alzheimers yet.

    I assume Pirsig, since I don't think he has alzheimers, is the perfect
    person to explain his own theory, biases and all. A person without
    intellectual biases hasn't been born yet.

    > OK, my admittedly circuitous answer is: If the idea of personal two-wheeled
    > self-powered transportation was spread around on a large scale for a while,
    > and then someone finally built one, then the intellectual pattern came
    > first. But if someone just built one out of the blue, without any thought
    > that other people might see it and build others, then it was inorganic.
    > Seeing that no one just builds things out of the blue though, and that it
    > was surely the evolution of an existing product and emerging opportunities,
    > it was surely an intellectual pattern that come first. But I still say
    > that, apart from its world-changing abstracted powers, it is an inorganic
    > pattern. "Hey everyone, let's build and ride something to get around
    > quicker" is intellectual, the actual bicylce is not. But the bicycle
    > wouldn't exist without the intellectual pattern first. Without the large
    > scale petterns of industry and consumerism and maybe celebrity for
    > inventors, it wouldn't have been invented.

    Your circuitous answer is too hard for me on my bicycle to navigate.
    Want to run that past me again?

    > I think the nature of an intellectual pattern is facsist, in that any idea
    > that society would be better off in such and such a way, is fascist.
    > Including my idea that society ought to come to respect morality more.
    > Well, no, maybe to be technically fascist imposing a pattern would have to
    > be done with a huge army and police force, and trying to get society to
    > respect morality through persuasion, against the might of the Giant, would
    > not be fascist. It just seems that most intellectual patterns end up being
    > forced on people.

    I fully empathize with your fear. There are a gejillion people out there
    with ideas about how to make the world a better place because they
    think they know better than you do what's best for you and everybody
    else. Once they get enough like-minded people together they have few
    qualms about imposing their way on others through government
    coercion. But it's not only the fascist types. It's commies, too. In fact,
    the commies always appealed to so-called intellectuals, I guess
    because Marx fancied himself to be an intellectual. Whether intellectual
    or not, do-gooders are always suspicious characters in my book.
    > Just because it goes without saying doesn't mean it is meaningless or
    > doesn't make sense. 2 = 2 makes sense, doesn't it? Granted, it doesn't
    > explain anything, but it makes sense.

    Fairy tales make sense. I'm not sure what your point is.

    > I think the selfish gene theory is pretty much accepted these days.

    Oh? That's news to me. On what "scale" do you find such acceptance.

    > I think I can reconcile those quotes with my understanding. I see DQ as
    > the energy or force that moves things from expectation to reality, but it
    > itself is indifferent - it is the expectation that is moral.

    Whose expectation?

    > Its only
    > "goal" is to move things according to expected static patterns of morality,
    > and it can't help but do so. Repeating the patterns, doing what should
    > happen (should meaning both 'predictably' and 'ought to'), is the goal.
    > So, I agree it is certainly a "moral force" because it moves things
    > according to morality and not according to some randomness.
    > It is the patterns that are moral (we all agree right?), and DQ is the raw
    > force that repeats them, the desire for expectation to be real. Certainly
    > you have to admit that morality has to exist first before a 'moral force'
    > can exist right? Otherwise what does a moral force mean that is different
    > from an immoral force?
    Yes, morality has to exist first before a moral force can exist. That's
    exactly Pirsig's initial premise--reality is Quality. Pirsig starts off with a
    principle of "Good." Science starts off with a principle of "oops," a Big
    Bang suddenly appearing out of nowhere. Schopenhauer starts off with
    Will. Plato starts off with eternal Forms. Religion starts off with the
    Creator or a Loving God. All beliefs have a foundational beginning which
    colors everything afterward. Trouble is, most people today don't know
    what the foundation for their beliefs is, or if they do, don't ever question it.

    > The "perceived good is freedom" quote I can reconcile to an indifference of
    > DQ using Augustine's concept of freedom that you agreed with Sam about
    > before (21 Feb 11:28). >Sam: "- as Augustine puts it in a prayer to God,
    > 'in your service is >perfect freedom'. You also agreed with Sam that "to
    > the extent that one follows Dynamic Quality, which is undefinable, one's
    > behaviour is free."
    > So, the perceived good of dynamic quality, then, is service to God, or
    > following dynamic quality. But though that may seem circular and
    > meaningless to you, it doesn't to me. Like evolution, it is as true, and
    > as indifferent, as 2 = 2. Of course it is good to follow dynamic quality,
    > because dynamic quality is what makes things do what they should, what we
    > expect them to. And that's what we like, when our expectations are met.

    I don't think DQ is indifferent. Sounds too much like science's view that
    the world was created without purpose and operates largely out of
    "contingency" or chance. (The philosophy of "oops.") "In your service,
    perfect freedom" doesn't mean "In your service, chaos." It means bodily
    release and unity with the universe, as one feels when contemplating


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